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Parks “essential” to Scotland’s economy says tourism minister

MSP and tourism minister Fiona Hyslop
Pictured are (from left) chairman of BH&HPA (Scotland) Elspeth Sutton, Director General of BH&HPA Ros Pritchard, MSP and tourism minister Fiona Hyslop, and policy director for BH&HPA Scotland Jeanette Wilson

Scottish tourism minister Fiona Hyslop MSP paid tribute to Scotland’s holiday parks sector in Edinburgh this week (22 November) when she took the platform at the industry’s annual conference.

The minister was the principal guest speaker at the event organised by the British Holiday & Home Parks Association (Scotland), and held at the city’s Our Dynamic Earth.

In attendance were the owners and managers of many of Scotland’s 200-plus park businesses which generate around £700m of visitor spending each year in the country.

Fiona Hyslop, who is cabinet secretary for culture, tourism and external affairs, was welcomed to conference by the chairman of BH&HPA (Scotland) Elspeth Sutton.

Fiona Hyslop said Scottish parks were defined by their excellence
Fiona Hyslop said Scottish parks were defined by their excellence

Ms Sutton, who manages Sandgreen Caravan Park in Gatehouse of Fleet, said that the association had long worked closely with the Scottish Government across a wide range of subjects.

The industry, said Ms Sutton, 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 her department recognises the important role played by parks in producing visitor income and sustaining employment:

“With the number of overseas visitors to Scotland increasing, and the total overnight spend by both domestic and overseas tourists rising to over £5 billion last year, tourism is one of Scotland’s most important, vibrant and successful sectors.

“The Scottish Government recognises the hard work that the holiday parks sector plays in providing excellent accommodation for all types of visitors.

“Whether it’s families on a staycation or overseas visitors coming for an authentic Scottish experience, holiday parks play an essential role in the success of Scottish tourism,” said Fiona Hyslop.

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 an update on a survey currently being undertaken by independent analysts on the economic impact of holiday parks across Scotland and the rest of the UK.

It was delivered by Bob Hill of the Economic Impact Review Group, and Dr Suzanne Hamilton who is associate director of Frontline Consultants, both of whom are helping to lead the study.

Although the full survey has yet to be concluded, the conference was told, it is likely to present an upbeat picture of an industry maintaining its popularity and continuing to develop.

Other speakers addressed a range of matters from further enhancing the customer service provided to consumers to how parks can best protect their businesses from cyber-attacks.

Director General of BH&HPA, Ros Pritchard, outlined some of ways in which the association engages with politicians to help frame laws and regulations affecting park businesses.

National BH&HPA chairman Paul Searle also gave his perspective as a holiday park owner on how the association helps its members develop their businesses and meet customer expectations.

Running parallel to the conference was an exhibition featuring the suppliers of goods and services to Scottish parks, the majority of which are family owned and managed.

Closing the conference, Elspeth Sutton said the industry was delighted with the support it receives from the Scottish Government, and thanked tourism minister Fiona Hyslop for her attendance.

Dynamic Earth Scotland
Beside the Scottish Parliament at the foot of Arthur’s Seat, Dynamic Earth is a major Edinburgh conference venue