Day-tripping visitors to Cumbria with nowhere to go could pose serious health risks to local communities, an Ambleside holiday park owner has warned.
Henry Wild says that as spring moves into summer, more visitors are likely to be streaming into the Lake District, only to find that all public conveniences are closed.
He says he has already heard reports of people making use of the roadside, or walking a short distance out of sight.
Illustrating the problem, says Henry, are the growing number of phone calls being made to his 450-pitch Skelwith Fold caravan park just outside Ambleside.
They are coming, he says, from people who own holiday caravans on the park, and asking if they can pay a brief visit to their holiday home to use its facilities:
“Some of these customers are contacting us while they are spending the day out in Cumbria, and others are calling from home prior to setting off,” he said.
“The anomaly is that we have to say no because all holiday parks are closed by order of the government, despite holiday caravans having their own bathrooms and toilets.
“Yet day visitors are being allowed into Cumbria with no toilet or ablution facilities provided for them, and some take whatever opportunities they can when the need arises.
“We have over three hundred holiday caravans and glamping units at Skelwith Fold which are entirely self-contained and spaced at least five metres apart,” he said.
“The government may allow parks to re-open in July, but I think this needs to be brought forward to encourage the type of visitors less likely to pose human health hazards,” said Henry.
He said his park will be making changes to how it operates after the lockdown ends to reassure visitors, employees and local residents that they will be safe:
“We’re examining a range of measures including equipping staff with PPE, and introducing on-line check-ins so that guests don’t have to use our reception building.
“We could also help minimise our guests’ contact with the surrounding community by arranging for local retailers to deliver food and other supplies to the park.
“Tourism is massively important to Cumbria, but we must manage it in new ways, and that means reviewing and resetting almost all of our procedures.
“I have no doubt that our visitor industry will stage a comeback, and after weeks of being cooped up, there will be a thirst for re-engaging with nature and enjoying its calming effects.
“But all we want them leaving in our countryside is footprints,” said Henry.