A number of rural hostels are facing an uncertain future after a decision by the YHA to cancel its contracts with affiliate providers.
The association for England and Wales has long held partnerships with independently owned remote hostels, bunkhouses and camping barns, giving them permission to operate under a YHA badge. However, these partnerships, of which there are 15 in total, will now be discontinued over the next few months.
Alstonefield Camping Barn between the Peak District’s Dovedale and Manifold Valley is one of the affiliate hostels. Its owner Teresa Flower said that she has had a “good working relationship with the YHA over the past 17 years” but that she now feels “dismayed and confused” by the decision.
Another owner, Lesley Handley of Taddington Camping Barn in Derbyshire said that the affiliate hostels received “no advance consultation” from the YHA prior to the announcement.
The hostels will no longer have their bookings managed by the YHA. They will also be removed from its website and other promotional materials.
Two hostels in mid Wales, Dolgoch and Ty’n Cornel, survived an earlier closure plan when the Association decided to sell them, but they were rescued by YHA members who formed a charity known as the Elenydd Wilderness Hostels Trust. While this initiative was able to bring the two hostels back into the YHA network, the recent decision now returns them to the same situation as before.
A representative of the Elenydd Wilderness Trust, Marilyn Barrack, reacted by saying: “We are very sad that our long association with the YHA is now ending after such a mutually beneficial relationship. However, we are confident that our hostels will continue to thrive over the coming years and provide a unique experience.”
Responding to calls for clarification, a spokesperson for the YHA stated: “Our commitment to maintaining a network of hostels in rural areas has not changed; however, trends of where people want to stay has changed.
“As a charity we must ensure that every penny we generate goes back to ensuring the greatest positive impact on people who stay with us.”
The affiliate hostels have called for the Association to ‘urgently review its decision’.
A full list of the providers set to lose affiliation within the next few months can be found here.