It's become an annual tradition, every year just before Christmas we announce a brand new guide to campsites across Europe. It's a ritual that dates back to 1968 when Alan Rogers himself launched the first guide to Selected Sites in Europe. It contained just 50 sites. He continued to review camping grounds and compile comprehensive guides, launching the first dedicated to guides to British and French campsites in 1976 and 1985 respectively until his retirement in 1986.
Clive and Lois, friends of Rogers' take over the business, inheriting the work ethic and strong intertwined heritage of its founder. Throughout the nineties under their leadership, they launched many new guides covering year-round camping (1993) and rented accommodation (1998). Clive and Lois were incredibly forward-thinking and innovative, during their tenure they oversaw the switch from traditional book printing to digital printing and the introduction of computers and modern emailing systems into the office.
On January 14th 2001 aged 81, Alan passed away after a long-term illness. He had continued to work with the company he had founded right up until the late nineties. That same year, Mark Hammerton acquired the business and renamed it the Mark Hammerton Group - many of our established customers will remember this! Mark modernised and hugely expanded the company, starting first with the launch of our first website in October 2001. He followed by launching the Travel Service, insurance policies, a loyalty programme, an online shop, digital guides, Dutch language guides and a dedicated marketing department based in mainland Europe.
In 2013 we were acquired by the Caravan and Motorhome Club, a takeover which secured our long-term future. Our online presence has grown significantly, and it has been all change for our guides - production has become almost entirely automated, with human input only a fraction of what it used to be.
And so we are proud to announce the launch of our latest edition to the AR family, Selected Sites in Europe 53rd Edition, due to hit the shelves in February 2021! It's back and better than ever, and here's why...
EXPANDED UK & IRELAND SECTIONS
There is no doubt about it, 2020 was an odd and challenging year for us all. Travel stopped, businesses closed, we all stayed in a lot more than we usually would, the world became a very different place. Exploring what's on your doorstep has become the favoured option for many of us, and so we've added 40% more British and 45% more Irish sites to the guide. After all, there is so much to be discovered in our home country!
INFORMATION ABOUT COVID-19 AND TRAVEL AFTER 31ST DECEMBER 2020
News of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has meant that we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, but reaching that light could still be a way off. We mustn't become complacent. We should continue to follow Government-issued rules and advice, including the easy-to-remember 'Hands, Face, Space' rule, this should apply wherever you are, home or abroad. If you do plan to travel to mainland Europe next year, it is more important than ever to plan ahead. We've given some pointers on what you should do before travelling, while on holiday and when you return but for the latest advice and information, visit gov.uk.
The UK's withdrawal from the European Union will also likely affect travel, so make sure you do your research and compile all relevant documentation before you travel.
ENVIRONMENTAL POLICIES AND RECYCLING INITIATIVES
We had some great feedback from our customers about our inclusion of local environmental policies in our 52nd Edition but, to make it easier and quicker to understand, we've simplified it. We must do our bit for the planet at home and on holiday. Did you know that a camping holiday is one of the most environmentally friendly types of holiday you can choose?
This icon indicates whether a country has recycling initiatives in place. A short description will tell you what is recycled (e.g. glass, cardboard, plastic, aluminium etc.) and any other important information about local schemes. This is a general guide to country-wide procedures, but campsites may offer different systems so please check before you travel
LEZ stands for Low Emission Zone. This is a zone within a city or built-up area which has enforced rules on what types of vehicles can enter in order to reduce carbon emissions. Not all countries have implemented low emission zones, but those that have may require you to register for a sticker or vignette. Park and Ride schemes may also be a preferred option. Some major cities have also imposed Zero Emission Zones which ban all vehicles from driving within the area.
We believe that camping and caravanning should be open to anyone no matter their race, orientation, religion or ability. A few years ago we met Karla, a keen caravanner, avid explorer and wheelchair user and she made us realise that, while most sites across the UK are accessible, camps across Europe vary widely. This inspired us to research Europe-wide accessibility and include a new section in our guidebooks to help those who are disabled and less-abled make choices that will improve their experience while on holiday.
This year we're introducing our accessibility score, a ranking out of five that rates a country's access based on four key areas:
ease of street movement
public buildings access
transport, parking and road infrastructure
attractions and other public services
••••• A score of five indicates that streets and public spaces are mostly cobble-free, kerbs are dropped, and pavements are free of street furniture like benches and planters. Public buildings have ramp or lift access. Transport is adapted to accommodate all. Accessible parking spaces are available. Attractions and services are mostly accessible or have procedures in place to accommodate those who need assistance.
•••• A score of four indicates that most major cities are largely accessible but not uniform throughout. Towns and rural areas may not accommodate those with accessibility needs.
••• A score of three indicates that some major cities are partly accessible or that accessibility is being actively addressed.
•• A score of two indicates that accessibility is generally poor, but some public spaces, attractions and services have made accommodations.
• A score of one indicates that no accessibility accommodations have been made in public spaces, but some services and attractions may have procedures in place to accommodate accessibility requests.
Of course, we would always recommend that you research thoroughly before you travel.
Karla, who we mentioned earlier, has her own website offering useful tips, advice, reviews and inspiration. Head over to AdventureWheels ABTA also offer information and advice to those who use wheelchairs or those who are less-abled.
Rob is the General Manager at Alan Rogers Travel Group, he is responsible for the ongoing development of the Alan Rogers website and publication of the Alan Rogers Guides.
He has been involved in the leisure industry since completing a BTEC in Travel & Tourism in 1993. Previous roles have included the promotion of tourism in Yorkshire and running a motorcycle touring company in the Australian Outback.
Most guides to camping sites provide long lists of sites without passing any real judgement on them.
This book is different. It only mentions particularly good sites, and it gives very detailed descriptions of these, with frank and comprehensive reports.