Tourism “vital” says MSP on Edinburgh park visit
MSP Gordon MacDonald helped raise the banner for Scotland’s tourism industry recently when he visited a popular family-run caravan park near Edinburgh.
Mr MacDonald, who is the member for Edinburgh Pentlands, visited Linwater Caravan Park in Newbridge in the wake of last month’s Scottish Tourism Week.
The event is designed to put the spotlight on Scotland’s tourism sector, and the multi-billion pound annual contribution it makes to the country’s economy.
The MSP met with business directors Katie Guinan and her husband Alistair whose parents took on the tranquil 40-acre park almost 20 years ago.
Recently, Katie left her job with distillers Diageo in Edinburgh to take over the full-time management of the park – and says it has tremendous scope for development.
During his visit, Gordon MacDonald toured the grounds of Linwater which provides 60 pitches for families with tents, touring caravans and motorhomes, plus glamping pods for hire.
Katie told the MSP that a recent independent economic survey found that Scottish holiday parks generate around £700m of visitor spending each year in Scotland.
This figure, she 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.
This year, says Katie, the park will remain open for 12 months of the year in response to customer demand, and a new children’s play area has recently been created.
She and Alistair also plan other improvements such as a new reception building, an indoor cooking area, a larger laundry, upgraded toilets and showers, and a new cafe facility.
Gordon MacDonald commented during his visit: “Tourism is an import part of the Edinburgh economy with close to four million visitors a year, and has won for the last three years a national newspaper’s readers award for being the best city in the UK to visit.
“Many of those tourists are backpackers and people with touring caravans who stop off overnight in Edinburgh on their tour of Scotland. It is important for the city that the facilities provided for those who enjoy the outdoor life are well maintained, clean and are operated by friendly staff.
“From my experience this morning, Linwater Caravan Park ticks all those boxes,” added Mr MacDonald.
Katie said she believed the future for tourism in her region was “extremely exciting”, but hoped that the City of Edinburgh Council would also play its part in encouraging visitors.
One major step the authority could take, she said, would be to improve the condition of the road on which per park is situated, and which is pitted by potholes.
Another positive step, she suggested, would be to introduce a better public transport provision which would benefit both the park, and members of the local West Clifton community.
“We are very grateful that Mr MacDonald took time out to come and see our park, and to hear how we plan to increase visitor numbers even more in the future,” she said.
“This is such a wonderful area to stay in, and has the benefit of lovely green surroundings, visitor attractions on our doorstep, and an easy journey into Edinburgh itself.
“The potential is huge, and our visitors’ spending also helps other small local businesses – so we look forward to seeing the council play its part too!” she added.
There is more information about Linwater Caravan Park at www.linwater.co.uk