Equality thriving in campsite ownership according to new data

New data from online campsite marketplace Pitchup.com shows that more than 50 per cent of its listed campsite owners in the UK are women. This is one of the highest figures across Europe, with women making up just 26 per cent of campsite owners in Germany, 28 per cent in Spain, 36 per cent in Italy and 41 per cent in France. The figures show that the campsite industry is an employment sector with generally good levels of equality, especially when compared to the manufacture and sale of camping units sector.

Pitchup brand marketing manager, Brodie Farrow, said: “The feedback we’ve heard from site owners in the UK is that our sector provides enjoyable and often lucrative careers for women, so we’re glad to see that the results reflect this. In fact, our top earning campsite so far this year is owned by a woman, with sales topping £160,000. Pitchup itself is made up of 60 per cent women, many in senior leadership roles, of which we are very proud.”

The campsite industry is a great place to work in, according to one woman taking the lead in the sector. Harriett Cunningham, owner of Benville Manor Camping, said: “We really got into it because of Covid. We’d already spent about 10 years turning a former cattle field into a wildflower meadow and then my daughter decided it would be the perfect place to offer wild camping, since no one could holiday abroad. Everyone got involved - it was a multi-generational family project.

“It was extraordinary really how many people turned up unprepared. A lot of young families came from Bristol for their first ever camping trip, in order to escape the city. In the beginning we lent out a lot of wellies, jumpers and extra pairs of socks! Once people got the hang of it, it was lovely to see how everyone embraced being out in the wild.

Harriet runs her campsite alongside her daughter and believes that despite it not being easy at times, it is a rewarding career. She added: “It’s not easy - you have to clean a lot of toilets and clear up a lot of rubbish - but it’s very sociable and so rewarding seeing how much people enjoy the experience you’ve created.”

The role of women in agritourism

More than 33 per cent of the campsites listed on Pitchup are on working farms, with agritourism becoming a popular form of diversification, supporting farms through the turbulence of reductions in subsidies, increasing costs and unpredictable weather.

Although 80 per cent of farm holders are men, agritourism and the outdoor accommodation sector appears to be offering equal opportunities for both men and women. In fact, a recent study in Ireland argues women have played a key role in the growth of agritourism.

According to the study’s leading researcher, Dr Maura Farrell, women in the farm sector “are much more open to farm diversification and they’re much more open to going beyond that productivist type of thinking in agriculture.

“Women are willing to go beyond the tradition and engage in diversification, giving rise to this idea of a progressive feminism within agriculture for women.”