A POPULAR Herefordshire leisure business say they have seen a catastrophic drop in revenue due to the coronavirus crisis.

With demand seeing the business doubling in size over last eight years, Oaker Wood Leisure were about to embark on their busiest summer season to date when lockdown hit on March 23.

The weeks between mid-March and the end of summer term in July are the busiest time of year for the adventure and glamping centre, which specialises in school activity camps and activity days.

Managing director and owner David Davies said: “We had spent the winter months, investing in the site, building a new shower block, enhancing our activities and training staff ready for the season to kick off, when, like the whole of the tourism and hospitality sector, the tap was simply turned off. We spent the weeks of lockdown transferring peoples bookings and making refunds.”

Many school bookings have been transferred to the autumn, but even that is now looking uncertain as it is unclear whether school trips will take place, even if travel for tourism in general is permitted.

The business also offers stag and hen weekends combining glamping with outdoor activities, with all weekends this year postponed or cancelled and many booked for July onwards have asked to transfer as the wedding is now postponed.

The Government furlough scheme is currently keeping the company afloat, but once the employer has to contribute to staff costs from August, the battle becomes trying to retain loyal staff without making redundancies, which the company fears will become a reality if things do not improve, Mr Davies said.

“That is what hurts me the most," he said.

“Many have worked for me for many years, some started as students in their university holidays and then became full time members of staff at the end of their course, others are family members. The staff are what makes a company like this."

The company has had to think quickly on its feet to see how it can ensure at least some income this year, and is offering family glamping, where extended family groups, or groups of two, three or four families can book an entire woodland glamping village to themselves.

Hereford Times:

The Glamping Villages lend themselves perfectly to social distancing as each family unit has their own pod and can be allocated their own shower and toilet. Each glamping village has its own fire circle and fully equipped kitchen and dining hut, but because it is all in the great outdoors it is easy for different family units to maintain a social distance while still enjoying each other’s company.

But, Mr Davies said, it is going to be impossible to recover the lost months and will take several years to bring the company back to where they were in March 2020.

For more information or to book, visit www.oakerwoodleisure.co.uk/offers/glamping