Expert opinion on caravan park

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A TOURISM expert from Stonehaven has expressed her professional opinion on the future of the Queen Elizabeth Caravan Park.

In a letter which was presented at the public meeting over the future of the caravan park which was held on Thursday, Elma McMenemy, who has over 30 years tourism experience said: “For several years it has been obvious that Stonehaven needs a better caravan park. The Council has done its best within limited budgets to keep our park operational and upgrade others.”

She continued: “I contacted the Caravan Club on behalf of the Tourism Group, as, based on my tourism experience, I believed it to be the best organisation to invest in and operate a successful caravan park for the town. We did not know if they would be interested and indeed Stonehaven was not at that time on their radar, but they quickly realised what potential the town and the park offered.”

Elma explained that other operators were given the opportunity to bid however she said: “The community organisations have decided that the Caravan Club’s bid is so attractive that they are the preferred bidder to invest in and operate the park on behalf of the community.”

Since being named as the preferred bidder for the Queen Elizabeth Caravan Park, there have been concerns raised over the Caravan Club’s stance on static caravans.

Elma said: “The Caravan Club did warn that, in these situations, there were two myths, neither of them correct, which often jeopardise their being appointed to take over a park, ie: that they operated touring pitches for members only and that they did not allow static vans on their parks.

“I was assured that they would of course be open for non-members and also allow a limited number of static pitches for owners’ occupation, and I believe that is what currently forms part of their plans and their bid. However, it would seem that they are unlikely to be able to accommodate all the current static vans whose owners wish to retain a pitch in Stonehaven.”

She says that the argument about static caravans must be balanced out against the “benefits” of the Caravan Club’s investment.

“Stonehaven currently under performs with regard to tourism in Scotland. This caravan park development could easily turn that around and make Stonehaven a must-visit destination for tourers, with significant knock-on effects for the town’s shops, pubs, eateries and attractions such as the Pool, the Tolbooth and the Castle, with additional knock-on effects through word–of–mouth recommendation bringing others to stay in the town’s serviced and self catering accommodation. 

“Make no mistake, without a modern, professionally–operated and promoted caravan park, Stonehaven will continue to under perform as a tourist destination and will struggle to attract a critical volume of visitors in future, particularly as these become more and more discerning, as is predicted. With poor investment and less experienced operation, the caravan park could easily become a liability for the community and even, in future, close.

“With the Caravan Club’s professional expertise and stated high level of investment, it is likely to become a lucrative asset for our town.”