MOBILE home owners are in for at least another six weeks of misery with restrictions on non-essential travel effectively barring them from caravan sites.
Van owners endured a disrupted summer in 2020 and will miss out on the traditional season opening date of St Patrick’s Day again this year.
Some sites have remained open throughout the winter but An Garda Síochána has confirmed that it is continuing to stringently impose Covid-19 regulations. Latest available figures show that more than 6,000 fines of €100 have been handed out for non-essential travel.
With sites out of bounds, some mobile home owners have been critical of the fact that holiday park proprietors have continued to demand full fees.
One individual who owns a caravan in Bundoran told the Donegal News the situation was “scandalous” and said there should be some level of government support for holidaymakers.
“We didn’t get a full season last year due to restrictions and this year is going to be the same. Yet I’ve had to pay full fees both years. It’s scandalous but there is no point in trying to negotiate with site owners. They hold all the cards and ultimately they will say if you don’t like it, you can take your caravan out the gate.
“I do think though there should be some help from government for mobile owners. For many people like myself owning a van is a big commitment and it’s expensive. I’m from the North and myself and my family spend as many weekends as we can in Bundoran. We spend thousands of euros a year in Donegal. Yet here we are having to pay full fees and we aren’t entitled to a single penny in government help.
“Take for example this year. We have no idea when we will be able to get to our van. We haven’t even been able to get across and air it out after the winter. It could be flooded, it could be storm damaged, who knows. But I’ve still had to write a cheque for almost €2,000 just to keep it on site.”
The Donegal News contacted the Department of Tourism to ask if there was any financial recompense available to van owners.
They said site fees and opening hours are a contractual matter between mobile and holiday park owners. And while tourism businesses are entitled to assistance, van owners are not.
“Covid-19 supports are provided to tourism businesses to help them deal with the devastating impact of Covid-19 and survive the impact of the virus. Supports do not extend to holidaymakers or mobile home owners,” said the Department.
This newspaper also contacted six caravan park owners across the county. Only two responded when asked if they had any advice for their customers.
Johnston’s Caravans in Letterkenny said they will be seeking to following government guidelines while Magheragelt-based McNicholl Caravans which owns sites in Bundoran and Buncrana added, “Instead of increasing our fees this year, we have discounted their fees in accordance with the VAT reduction we have received.”