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Domestic tourism booms as recession bites

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Cairnsmill Caravan Park is run by third-generation owner John Kirkcaldy with his sisters Margaret and Caroline, niece Michelle and son Alan. Kirkcaldy’s great uncle originally ran the site as a dairy farm and introduced the first caravans on the land in the early fifties. Cairnsmill now comprises 200 static caravans and space for around 60 touring caravans.

"Because we’re a family business, we’re prepared to go that extra mile to keep the business moving, and that often means rolling up our sleeves and doing more work ourselves rather than relying on employees," says Kirkcaldy.

"You’ve got to be pretty resilient and be prepared to do anything, including working late at night, early in the morning and at weekends. It’s not a nine-to-five job." Kirkcaldy says his father also believed in trying to meet people’s budgets rather than running the business for pure profit. This tradition has helped to keep prices competitive.

Normally, summer bookings wouldn’t start until after Easter, but the park’s phone is already ringing off the hook: "We’re already taking bookings for July, August and September," says Kirkcaldy. "We usually get bookings about a month in advance, but now they’re happening at least two months’ in advance. Enquiries have definitely gone up."

Kirkcaldy isn’t the only entrepreneur in the domestic tourism industry to see a boom in trade. Ian Smith – boss of British holiday camp operator Pontin’s – is creating another 2,000 jobs and says bookings are up by 20 per cent.

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Related articles:Family businesses are bestPontin’s boss: "We’re recruiting"

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