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Parks “vital” to Scottish tourism, says minister

Tourism minister Fiona Hyslop MSP
Tourism minister Fiona Hyslop MSP (centre) is welcomed to the Scottish parks conference in Edinburgh by director general of BH&HPA Ros Pritchard OBE, and by the retiring chairman of BH&HPA Scotland Colin Fraser

Scottish tourism minister Fiona Hyslop MSP told holiday park owners meeting in Edinburgh recently that their businesses are a vital component of the country’s tourism industry.

The minister made her remarks at November’s annual conference of the British Holiday & Home Parks Association Scotland which was held at the city’s Our Dynamic Earth.

Fiona Hyslop, who is cabinet secretary for culture, tourism and external affairs, was welcomed as chief guest speaker at the conference by Scottish association chairman Colin Fraser.

The event was attended by delegates from many of Scotland’s 200-plus park businesses which offer holiday options from camping and glamping to luxury lodges to rent and own.

Mr Fraser, an Aberdeenshire parks owner, said his association has long worked closely with the Scottish Government on a range of issues, and welcomed the support it has received.

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:

Park delegates heard from a range of specialist speakers
Park delegates heard from a range of specialist speakers

“Holiday parks offer visitors to Scotland both great value and a wide range of high quality accommodation options, as well as helping to sustain employment in some of our most remote and rural areas,” she said.

“With Scotland voted the world’s most beautiful country by readers of Rough Guide, there are even more reasons than ever to enjoy a holiday here.

“I have no doubt that our holiday parks will respond to Scotland’s growing popularity as a visitor destination, and continue to play a vital role in the success of Scottish tourism,” Fiona Hyslop added.

Fiona Hyslop was speaking at the start of the conference’s day-long programme which also included talks from senior figures on a range of subjects related to the industry.

They included new and upcoming changes to statutes and regulations, many designed to provide enhanced consumer protection and which have been welcomed by the parks sector.

Delegates also heard about protecting their businesses from cyber-attacks, marketing to younger customers, succession planning, and issues concerning tax and insurance.

Director general of BH&HPA, Ros Pritchard OBE, outlined how the 3000-member strong association currently engages with politicians on matters affecting park businesses.

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.

In conclusion, Colin Fraser said the Scottish parks industry remained “robust and ambitious”, and was looking forward to another busy year welcoming visitors from the UK and overseas.

Mr Fraser thanked Fiona Hyslop for her attendance, and said that her department was a valued and trusted ally which had always demonstrated a clear understanding of the parks sector.

At the AGM following the conference, tributes were paid to Colin Fraser who stepped down as chairman of BH&HPA Scotland following 32 years of service in the role.

Mr Fraser remains a director of the body, and his place as chairman is taken by Brian Wetherley whose long-established family business owns a group of holiday parks in southern Scotland.

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