John Swinney, MSP for Perthshire North, helped celebrate Perthshire’s visitor industry recently when he made a special visit to Blair Castle Caravan Park near Pitlochry as part of Scottish Tourism Week.
The event, which ran until 18th March, is designed to put the spotlight on Scotland’s tourism sector, and the £23 billion annual contribution it makes to the country’s economy.
Mr Swinney – who is Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth at the Scottish Government – visited the four-star park in the village of Blair Atholl to see how the award-winning business attracts thousands of visitors each year to the region.
He also took the opportunity to present an Exceptional Service Award from the British Holiday & Home Parks Association to the park’s senior receptionist, Anne Muirhead.
The accolade marked Anne’s 21 years at Blair Castle, and she was nominated by the park’s owners, Atholl Estates, in recognition of her hard work and commitment to customer care.
Mr Swinney said: “I was delighted to have the opportunity to visit the park and congratulate Anne on her many years of service to the business.
“I visited the park myself as a child and have very fond memories of what is a truly spectacular location. It’s a great park which contributes hugely to the economy of Highland Perthshire, and a park which has a large number of visitors who return year after year.
“One of the reasons for this is because of the friendly, professional staff at the park such as Anne. I wish Anne and the park continued success,” added Mr Swinney.
Blair Castle first started welcoming camping and caravan guests in 1971, and quickly gained in popularity as an idyllic location for exploring the Scottish Highlands.
Set in nine acres of open countryside in the picturesque grounds of the Blair Castle, which dates to the 13th century, the park enjoys spectacular mountain views across the Cairngorms National Park.
Mr Swinney heard that the park today attracts more than 70,000 guests each year from the UK and overseas, and their spending helps support many small businesses in the region.
As well as 200 touring pitches, the park has 85 privately-owned caravan holiday homes, and another 18 available for letting – plus woodland lodges, camping pods, and 70 seasonal caravan pitches.
In addition to paths and miles of waymarked trails to follow around the grounds, there are many children’s activities plus a putting green and the chance to tour the grounds on an electric Segway scooter.
Atholl Estates general manager, Andrew Bruce-Wootton, said he was delighted that Mr Swinney was able to take time out during Scottish Tourism Week, and to meet staff at the park as well as to present Anne’s long service award.
He told Mr Swinney that according to research commissioned recently by the Scottish Caravan and Camping Forum, Scottish parks generate just over £700m of visitor spending annually.
There is more information about the park at www.blaircastlecaravanpark.co.uk