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The future of campsites: why luxury will decline and simplicity will return with a vengeance


In the world of tourism, trends are constantly evolving. While 4- and 5-star campsites (called hôtels de plein air) have enjoyed a meteoric rise in recent years, attracting a clientele hungry for luxury and comfort, the coming years may well be less favourable for them. Conversely, campsites that are simpler and closer to nature look set to make a comeback. Here's why.


1. Changes in Passenger Behaviour

Trend towards simplicity and authenticity : More and more tourists are looking for authentic and simple experiences, far from ostentatious luxury. According to a 2023 Booking.com study, 54% of travellers prefer accommodation that offers an authentic, local experience rather than luxurious facilities.

Minimalism and ecotourism : A 2022 World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) study indicates that 60% of travellers are more likely to choose eco-friendly and sustainable options, even if this means less comfort and luxury.


2. The Economic Factor

Economic crisis and purchasing power : Economic uncertainties, such as financial crises or recessions, affect consumers' purchasing power. According to a 2023 INSEE survey, 68% of French households have cut their holiday budget because of the rising cost of living.

Rising costs at high-end campsites : 4 and 5 star campsites have much higher maintenance and operating costs, linked to their luxurious infrastructures. A Deloitte study from 2022 shows that operating costs at top-of-the-range campsites increase by an average of 5% a year.

The simpler campsites, offering competitive rates, are an attractive alternative for families and young travellers looking for a getaway without breaking the bank.



3. Increased competition:

Growth in alternative accommodation : The popularity of alternative accommodation such as Airbnb, guest houses or B&Bs has increased. A Statista study from 2023 shows that demand for Airbnb accommodation has increased by 15% on the previous year, attracting a clientele that might otherwise opt for luxury campsites.

Diversified leisure options : Holiday destinations are offering more and more leisure and accommodation options, diversifying the offer and reducing the appeal of high-end campsites.


4. The Search for Authenticity

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people think about their holidays. Many are now looking for more authentic and less standardised experiences. A study by the World Tourism Organisation shows that 65% of travellers are looking for local and immersive experiences.

Campsites close to nature, offering authentic interaction with the environment and local communities, are therefore in tune with these new expectations. In contrast, luxury campsites, often perceived as artificial bubbles, may seem less attractive.


4. Social Networks and the Value of Simplicity

Social networks play a major role in spreading travel trends. Platforms such as Instagram and TikTok increasingly value simple, natural experiences. The hashtag #VanLife, for example, has amassed millions of views, illustrating the popularity of minimalist, close-to-nature lifestyles.

Smaller campsites, often located in exceptional natural settings, benefit from this increased visibility. Travellers share their experiences of bivouacking under the stars, hiking in the forest or evenings around the fire, inspiring others to seek out similar holidays.


5. Growing environmental regulations

Governments are adopting increasingly strict environmental regulations. In France, the law on energy transition for green growth imposes increasingly stringent standards on tourist infrastructures. Luxury campsites, with their heated pools, spas and other energy-hungry facilities, will have to invest heavily to comply with these new requirements.

On the other hand, simple campsites with more modest facilities are naturally more compliant with these regulations, which is a competitive advantage.



Preference for authentic and local experiences : More and more campers are looking for more personalised experiences close to nature. A survey by tourism consultancy Protourisme shows that 43% of French campers prefer small campsites for their friendliness and proximity to nature.

Sustainable tourism : Small campsites are often more committed to ecological practices (waste sorting, renewable energy, etc.). A study by the Observatoire du tourisme durable (Sustainable Tourism Observatory) shows that 60% of small campsites have taken steps to reduce their environmental impact, compared with 40% of large campsites.

Online reviews and social networks : Online reviews play a crucial role in campers' decisions. Small campsites can benefit from good reviews by offering a personalised customer experience. For example, on platforms such as TripAdvisor, small campsites often get high marks for their warm welcome and family atmosphere.

Contribution to the local economy : Small campsites often contribute more to the local economy by working with local producers and traders. This strengthens their integration into the economic and social fabric of the region. An INSEE study shows that small campsites generate proportionately more local economic spin-offs than large ones, due to their local purchases and partnerships.


Conclusion

The popularity of 4 and 5 star campsites, synonymous with luxury and comfort, could decline in the years to come. Changes in traveller behaviour, the economic situation, the quest for authenticity, the impact of social networking and environmental regulations are all encouraging a shift towards simpler, more environmentally-friendly holidays.

Modest campsites close to nature are gaining in popularity. They are an attractive alternative for those looking for authentic, affordable and environmentally-friendly holidays. The tourism industry needs to adapt to these new trends to meet the expectations of tomorrow's travellers. The aim of this blog page is not to create an opposition between small and large campsites, but to share recent statistics. These data show that the future of the large outdoor hotel sector looks less promising than that of the smaller campsites. Our aim is simply to inform our readers about developments in the sector.


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