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What will the campsite of the future look like?

What will the campsite of the future look like? - ECOCAMPS
Camping Initiative Stmk / Photo Fischer

What will the campsite of the future look like?
The 1st Camping Summit Austria in Graz provides answers. On April 11-12, 2024, Austrian camping entrepreneurs developed visions and strategies with experts from the industry.
The camping industry – economic engine for holiday regions
As a central basis for discussion on future strategies, conos GmbH presented the first Austria-wide camping study , commissioned by the Camping Initiative Steiermark and the WKO trade association for leisure and sports businesses. The study found that camping is the most climate-friendly form of vacation and, despite continuing prejudices, has developed into a high-quality lifestyle and nature experience vacation. In Austria, overnight stays at campsites increased from 5.1 to 8.3 million within 10 years. According to Conos and ACSI, the regional added value is very high at 55 to 60 euros per day per camping guest. In the host state of Styria, it amounts to around 45 million euros per year.

New self-image and more appreciation for camping
The study and the approximately 140 summit participants also formulated requirements to ensure that camping remains competitive in 2030: a new self-image and more appreciation of camping as a form of holiday, especially on the part of politicians, clear market positioning, even more quality and sustainability, innovations in rental accommodation, bundling of pitch offers, a revitalization of seasonal occupancy and a stronger appeal to international target groups.
What do camping guests expect in the future?

Answers were given and concrete strategies developed in workshops. One focus was the workshop “Campsite of the future – requirements for the campsite in 2030” with Martin Kaffka, CEO of CAR ELECTRIC , and Martin Rolletschek, ECOCAMPING consultant and auditor.
How do campsites inspire existing and new target groups? How do they secure their strong, regionally rooted market position? Rolletschek and Kaffka worked out these key points together with committed operators of Austrian campsites. We have supplemented them with ECOCAMPING experiences from working with other committed campsites.

The campsite 2030:
Preserving nature – for a future worth living
Camping guests will still want to enjoy and experience nature in 2030. Campsites should contribute even more to climate protection and biodiversity than they do today. Native plants or sustainably managed forests on the campsite contribute to this. The trees delight guests and provide a habitat for insects and other animals. By selecting the right tree species and taking proper care of them, the camping forest defies climate change. It also helps to slow down climate change. The trees remove CO2 from the atmosphere. They also provide shade, so that the environment, people and animals suffer less from increasing heat waves.

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Campsite 2030 – real experience
Camping will have to meet even more customer needs in 2030 than it does today: Many of the future guests don't just want to spend their free time on the campsite and relax in nature. They also go camping to discover an alternative "perfect" world in the face of increasingly complex everyday life. Guests want to have intensive experiences, enjoy time with family, friends or other camping guests. The campsite contributes to this with community, adventure and educational offers that delight guests. Campers of all ages also learn how they can protect the environment and climate.

Future camping – camping as a lifestyle
More and more campers want to experience nature and community not only on vacation. Many want to live on the campsite for longer. Tense housing markets are reinforcing this development. The trend to live comfortably but "simpler" and more sustainably is also driving demand. Campsites that want to benefit from this are preparing for this growing target group at an early stage. Whether caravan, mobile home, trailer, tiny house: the legal framework for permanent living on the campsite, which is still a gray area in many places today, must also be reviewed.

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Boomer boom – more retirees are camping
The demographic change in many European countries is both a challenge and an opportunity for campsites: by 2030, most baby boomers, the generations born in the 1950s and 1960s with high birth rates, will be retired. Even more active pensioners than today will camp. Campsites that create suitable offers will be successful. Today's "silver campers" and future retirement generations are also getting older: campsites that cater to the growing target group of very elderly campers combine camping flair, senior-friendly pitches and services - and create care offers.

Mobility – sustainable and guest-friendly
Individual charging stations for e-bikes or e-cars are now standard on many campsites. In the future, this will not be enough: If many guests arrive with an e-vehicle in 2030, pitches will need charging stations or wall boxes. The infrastructure must be planned and built for this. Campsites should also plan for economical and simple digital billing for guests. Guests also want to be mobile on site in a sustainable and comfortable way. Many ECOCAMPING campsites already offer bicycle and e-bike rentals, e-scooters, e-rental cars and convenient connections to local public transport. In the future, pick-up and rental services will enable guests to comfortably cover the "last mile" from the bus or train to the campsite.

Energy supply – renewable and self-sufficient
Despite many successful energy-saving measures, the need for (electrical) energy when camping is increasing - due to increasing e-mobility and permanent forms of housing that require electricity all year round. In addition, heating and grills are increasingly being operated electrically. More and more campsites are producing electricity or heat sustainably. If planned correctly, photovoltaics, solar thermal energy, etc. are economical and make the site less dependent on electricity price developments, power outages or bottlenecks. ECOCAMPING accompanies campsites on their individual path to sustainable energy supply. The necessary network expansion to the campsite and on the site is often underestimated. Forward-looking camping operators coordinate with power grid operators and technology experts in good time. This also applies to WiFi and more powerful internet connections that guests expect.

Conclusion: great challenges, great opportunities
Campsites with a future will successfully implement many ideas, inspire future guests, conserve resources, and protect the climate and the environment. Almost all workshop participants at the Austrian Camping Summit agreed on this! ECOCAMPING and CAR ELECTRIC want to support the campsites with experience and expertise.

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