Published: 06:00, 12 February 2020
| Updated: 08:16, 12 February 2020
New camping plans for The Open 2020 have been shared at an information session on the golf championship for residents in Sandwich.
Tom Critchley, director of Caboose & Co which operates The Open Camping Village on behalf of The R&A, said the relatively new scheme is now the only reason some families return to the international event.
The facility which will feature tents for one to six people and glamping teepees has capacity for 2,200 people and will be set up in a field off Sandown Road.
It will be positioned along the new path being created for visitors from Sandwich Railway Station to the venue, Royal St George’s Golf Club.
The main pull, Mr Critchley believes, is its affordablity which was the key focus behind its launch five years ago.
It is free for anyone under 25, otherwise prices start from £40-60 a night for camping and £150 for two people for glamping.
Mr Critchley said: “Research was carried out and found the biggest obstacle for people visiting The Open was accommodation.
“So the chief executive Martin Slumbers said how do we make it more accessible for young people and families to come to the Open and from that The Open Camping Village was born.”
There is a minimum stay of two nights and guests must present their ticket number when they book. Bookings for the Saturday night have almost sold out.
Mr Critchley added: “It’s grown year on year and we’ve had superb feedback. Some people say they only come back to The Open because of the camping village.
“It makes it affordable for families. We get a lot of repeat customers.
“People are blown away by the facilities.”
The site will boast a family area with food and drink, many of which is locally sourced, and live music until 10pm in the evenings.
There will also be games for children, two football pitches, shower facilities, a pamper tent with mirrors and power sockets, and 24-hour security.
Mr Critchley said: “We’re there to have a good night’s sleep as well as enjoy ourselves. We’ve had no complaints from any residents in the past four years.”
It takes around 25 people and seven days to set up, and will operate on a wrist band system with people permitted to leave the site as many times as they wish.
Leader of Dover District Council Trevor Bartlett, who attended the information session in Sandwich Guildhall, said: “I’m really inspired by this. I think it’s great for youngsters and families.
“You can see it’s being professionally done and the facilities look really smart and clean.”
Other representatives from Dover District Council, Kent County Council, Network Rail, Southeastern were also on hand to answer questions.
The R&A were unable to attend due to cancelled flights from Scotland as a result of Storm Ciara.
The major sporting event is from Sunday, July 12 to Sunday, July 19.
More by this authorEleanor Perkins