Steart Farm Touring Park @ Bideford, Devon
The West country is a fabulous place to live and work. It’s also the top UK destination for people holidaying at home. In 2010, tourism was worth over £2.4 billion to the Devon economy, with 34 million visitors spending over £1.5 billion in the county and supporting almost 42,000 jobs.
Tourism is a vital driver for our economy, and the lifeblood for Robin Croslegh, who runs Steart Farm Touring Park, about seven miles outside Bideford. Like any small business owner, Robin has invested in facilities to make his business a success and attract plenty of holiday-makers. His park caters for caravans and campers and he provides a range of amenities from shower-block and laundry facilities to picnic and barbecue areas and mobile phone-charging. In 2010, Robin decided to pilot a new WiFi service for his customers. He explains:
“The majority of our visitors are coming to us from towns and cities because they want a break away from it all. However, over the years we’ve found that people now want to be able to keep in touch while they’re away, particularly if they keep a static caravan here and spend the whole summer with us. We’ve also seen an increase in the number of people who want to be able to work while they’re away, keeping in touch with the office but still managing to be with the family on holiday. The service is really popular and we need to be able to improve and extend it but the limited bandwidth means we can’t. Our nearest exchange is Clovelly and we don’t have a cable service so we’re entirely dependent on copper wires. Our upload and download speeds are consistently less than 1Mbps. This means we can’t offer our guests any more than a basic email and browsing service. Streaming or uploading files just isn’t possible!”
Robin also finds it difficult to get on with the day-to-day online needs of his business in the summer when guests are using the WiFi service. He’s hoping that Connecting Devon and Somerset will be able to unlock a better internet service for him and thousands of other small businesses in a similar position.