They are often maligned as nightmare road users, the bane of other drivers’ lives, holding up traffic as they slowly snake along the highways.
But now caravanners, once accused by former Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson of being in charge of “fibreglass menaces strangling Britain”, have been revealed as big spending culture vultures flocking to movie and film locations shot in Scotland and contributing £37 million to the economy.
The Caravan Club says high-profile films such as Steven Spielberg’s The BFG which includes scenes filmed on the Isle of Skye, Netflix’s blockbuster biographical drama series The Crown about the early years of the Queen’s reign shot in location across Aberdeenshire including Dundarg Castle, Fraserburgh and Slains Castle, and the Edinburgh International Festival, have all led to the upswing and spend by the club’s members.
The £37m spend off-site by the club’s members in Scotland in 2016 is up £2m from the £35m spent in 2015.
The 2016 cash injection supports the equivalent of more than 680 full-time jobs north of the Border, up from 650 in 2015.
The club’s Scottish sites, including the smaller, privately-owned five-van-only certificated locations, account for more than two million touring bed nights per annum.
These sites are located in some of the most beautiful parts of the world such as North Ledaig Caravan Club Site on a two-mile sandy and shingle beach at Ardmucknish Bay in Argyll and Bute.
Around 70 per cent of tourists staying on the club’s sites in Scotland are from outwith the country.
Overall, the sector is worth an estimated £700m annually to the Scottish economy according to a report by the Scottish Caravan and Camping Forum.
The trend looks set to continue following the opening of the club’s two new multi-million pound site developments at Strathclyde Country Park and Stonehaven Queen Elizabeth Park in Aberdeenshire.
Nick Lomas, director general at the Caravan Club, said: “The Caravan Club has long been recognised as an important contributor to Scottish tourism, and we are pleased to see that our members continue to both visit and spend more in the region.
“From the breathtaking scenery of the Highlands down to a wide range of coastal walks, Scotland is a fantastic holiday location for anyone who wants to get closer to nature or experience some of the best culture in the world.
“By investing in our sites and continuing to enhance the experiences on offer to those travelling with the Caravan Club to Scotland, we’re excited to see our investments aiding further tourism growth and support for the local economy.”
A spokesman for VisitScotland said: “With our stunning landscapes and great open roads, Scotland is the ideal location for a caravan holiday. It is fantastic to see the boost that the outdoor leisure industry is having on the visitor economy and there is no doubt that the growing number of high-profile films being shot in Scotland is playing a part in this.
“With more and more blockbusters using Scotland as a backdrop, we look forward to seeing the positive impact of ‘setjetting’ on Scottish tourism continue for years to come.”