Farming News - Lack of government action chills vital Welsh agritourism sector

Lack of government action chills vital Welsh agritourism sector

Welsh landowners are turning away from camping – despite Wales being the most popular country in the UK in which to take an outdoor holiday.


According to figures from, just 33 new Welsh pop-up campsites were added to the leading booking website in the last 12 months, down from 53 the year before, and 97 the year before that.

This is despite Flintshire being named as the most popular place in the UK to camp last year by, as holidaymakers sought an authentic 'off the beaten track' experience.

Data from VisitBritain also revealed that 34% of holidays in Wales involve camping or caravanning compared to just 20% in England and 21% in Scotland, meaning the country has a big opportunity to capitalise on.

Key affected areas include Carmarthenshire, which saw 22 new pop-up campsites added to in 2021/22. However, that figure dropped to just eight in 2022/23 and four in the past 12 months. 

Pembrokeshire saw a steeper fall with 27 new sites added in 2021/22, down to 14 a year later and just three in the past year. 

Powys recorded 17 new temporary campsites listed on in 2021/22, but the figure dropped off a cliff a year later with just four new sites added in 2022/23.

Dan Yates, Founder of, said that pop-up campsites – those run for a limited length of under Permitted Development Rights (PDR) – were the cheapest and easiest form of diversification for farmers and landowners looking to realise extra revenue.

They also opened up new areas of the countryside to holidaymakers, making them a win-win for rural communities and those wanting a break from the rat race.

But Mr Yates added he was not surprised the growth in pop-up sites was declining, stating the issue lay firmly at the door of the Welsh government.

Currently, PDR allows farmers and landowners in Wales to run a temporary campsite for 28 days per year without applying for further planning permission, yet just across the border in England, pop-up campsite owners can legally operate for 60 days a year.

The Welsh Assembly ran a public consultation on extending PDR to help farmers diversify and boost the rural economy, but more than two years after the consultation ended, Ministers have yet to make an announcement on the issue.

Mr Yates said: "There is a huge opportunity here. Wales is a rural country and outdoor tourism is massive. Allowing farmers and landowners to run temporary campsites for the summer season means they can earn extra income, more people can camp in Wales and rural communities can feel the impact of holidaymakers spending in the local area.

"When the Welsh government launched the consultation we were extremely optimistic they would see sense and extend PDR as the Westminster government has done in England. But instead, in a snub to Welsh farmers and landowners, they've remained completely tight-lipped about it.

"As a consequence, a sector that should be absolutely flourishing is rapidly slowing down and likely to go into reverse over the next couple of years if something isn't done."

PDR was first extended from 28 days to 56 days in 2021 as a way for the rural economy to bounce back from COVID and to provide extra holiday accommodation in the UK as people were unable to travel abroad.

Despite the success of the initiative – which added an extra £25m into the rural economy – PDR returned to 28 days on December 31st, 2021.

However, after lobbying from, as well as rural organisations, PDR was permanently extended in June 2023 to 60 days in England, while in Wales and Scotland it remains at 28.

The Welsh government has consulted on the issue, but more than two years after the consultation closed, they're yet to give an update on whether or not the law will be changed.

Susan Allen, who runs the Moss Lane Cottage campsite just a mile from the English border in Wales, said the disparity in regulations threatened the survival of the pop-up camping sector in Wales – an assertion supported by's figures. 

She said: "It is very frustrating that the Welsh government doesn't seem to want to follow suit and extend PDR as in England, as campsites there get five or six more weekends than we do. 

"I'm not saying that if we got 56 or 60 days we would use them all, but to be able to open more weekends across the summer would make a big difference to us financially."

Freda Shaw, who runs highly-rated pop-up campsite The Boat House on land alongside the River Severn, right on the Welsh border near Welshpool, branded the decision not to extend PDR as "ridiculous".

She says: "There's a pop-up campsite a couple of miles away that is just over the border and they can open for 60 days. It's just ridiculous that we are being punished by the inaction of the Welsh Government.

"Campsites like mine are bringing much-needed money into rural communities. Why are the Welsh Government objecting to this when everybody wants it to be extended to 60 days?"