SPECIALIST Holidays Group is to launch a dedicated
French camping programme to exploit the gap left when EuroSites disappears from
the high street next summer.
Travel Weekly has learned that at least 25 French camp
sites have already been contracted for the new operation, which it is thought
will be run out of existing offices in Manchester.
An SHG spokeswoman refused to give details about the
programme, but admitted contracting was continuing. She said the new operation
would be restricted to France.
Bosses at SHG – which is part of TUI northern Europe –
are believed to have taken the decision to move into camping after rival
MyTravel sold its EuroSites brand in October last year. New owner Holidaybreak
has since decided to ditch the EuroSites brand for 2004 (Travel Weekly June 30)
and incorporate the product into its own brands Keycamp and direct-sell
Eurocamp. “We are still in the early stages,” said an SHG spokeswoman. “More
details will be released in the next six to eight weeks.”
It’s believed former EuroSites staff are contracting
sites on behalf of SHG and talking to mobile home manufacturers about buying
units for next year.
No decision has been taken on which TUI brand will
carry the camping product.
Holidaybreak camping division managing director Jim
Crew said he was not concerned TUI would push its own camping brand through
Lunn Poly. “Anything that raises the exposure of the sector is good news,” he
said. “We are the market leader and have already signed our agreement with TUI
Thomson Holidays, part of the TUI UK
group, launched its first self-drive programme in June although
accommodation includes hotels and
family-run properties, not camp sites.