Scottish tourism minister Fiona Hyslop MSP met with holiday park owners in Edinburgh this autumn (24 Nov) to hear how their industry is planning to maintain visitor momentum in 2017.
The minister was the chief guest speaker at the annual conference of the British Holiday & Home Parks Association (Scotland) held at the city’s Our Dynamic Earth.
Owners and managers of many of Scotland’s 200-plus park businesses were meeting at the end of what was generally regarded as a highly successful year for their sector.
Fiona Hyslop, who is cabinet secretary for culture, tourism and external affairs, was welcomed to conference by Aberdeen park owner Colin Fraser who is chairman of BH&HPA (Scotland).
Mr Fraser told the minister that an independent economic survey published last year found that Scottish holiday parks generate around £700m of visitor spending each year in Scotland.
This figure, he said, accounts for 8% of all the revenue produced by Scotland’s tourism economy, and allows the Scottish park sector to support more than 5,600 full-time equivalent jobs.
In her address to delegates, Fiona Hyslop said that the Scottish Government recognises the important role played by parks in producing visitor income and sustaining employment:
“The holiday homes sector is a unique but vital part of our tourism and hospitality industry. The sector provides important geographic spread, allowing visitors to see more of our country and, in doing so, to support our rural economies,” said Fiona Hyslop.
“The last VisitScotland accommodation survey shows that there were over three million bed nights from domestic visitors in camping and caravan parks, and 654,00 bed nights from overseas visitors.
“Those bed nights were right across Scotland, and spent within a wide range of accommodation types including holiday homes, touring and camping,” she added.
Fiona Hyslop was speaking at the start of the park conference’s busy day-long agenda which also included talks from a range of tourism and other industry specialists.
Delegates heard from VisitScotland senior tourism insight manager Chris Greenwood whose department has just completed a survey of how Scottish parks fared during the 2016 holiday season.
Although the results had yet to be fully analysed, said Mr Greenwood, they are likely to present an upbeat picture of an industry maintaining its popularity and continuing to develop.
Other speakers addressed a range of matters from consumer rights and employment law to how park businesses can increase still further the number of visitors from the UK and overseas.
Director general of BH&HPA, Ros Pritchard, outlined some of ways in which the association engages with politicians to help frame UK and EU laws and regulations affecting park businesses.
National BH&HPA chairman Henry Wild also gave his perspective as a holiday park owner on how the association helps its members develop their businesses and meet customer expectations.
Closing the conference, Colin Fraser said the industry was delighted with the support it receives from the Scottish Government, and thanked tourism minister Fiona Hyslop for her attendance.