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Lake District lovers can for the first time enjoy year-round park holidays in South Cumbria following a council decision to allow a 12-months opening season for Holgates Holiday Parks.
Planners on South Lakeland District Council this week (29 September) gave the green light to the award-winning business to welcome guests all year round on three of its six parks..
Until now, Silverdale Holiday Park and Far Arnside Holiday Park - both near Arnside - were required to close for six weeks during November and December.
A third park in the family-owned group, Silver Ridge Holiday Park in Hale near Milnthorpe, was forced to close for six weeks in December and January.
Now owners of the 630 caravan holiday homes and lodges on the three parks will be able to visit any time, and Silverdale Holiday Park's 70 touring pitches will also stay open all year.
According to company managing director Michael Holgate, the council's decision will provide a valuable boost to the area's tourism economy at a traditionally leaner time of year:
Tourist board figures, said Michael, suggest that the extra opening weeks on the three parks will produce an additional £160,000 of visitor spending per annum:
"Almost all of this cash will be fed directly into other local businesses in South Cumbria, from shops and cafes to restaurants and visitor attractions," he said.
"Like our company, many of these enterprises are dependent on tourism for their survival, and the extra income is sure to be welcomed at a time when visitors are often thinner on the ground.
"If this also helps to put the jobs these businesses sustain on a more secure footing, or even create new work opportunities, then that will be another benefit of this move.
"For our part, it will allow us to convert a number of seasonal jobs into full-time positions, meaning that fewer staff will have employment gaps during the year," added Michael.
He said that this had been an excellent trading year for the Holgates group which was started by his family just over fifty years ago in Silverdale as a single site for caravans and tents.
"Holiday patterns have changed dramatically over the years, and today we are looking at a big increase in shorter breaks spread throughout the four seasons," said Michael.
"That's why this decision to allow twelve-months opening is entirely consistent with what present-day holidaymakers expect - and can now find here in Cumbria.
"The council's economic development unit have been entirely supportive of our plans, and quick to acknowledge the economic and employment benefits they will bring," he commented.
A number of parks in the Holgates group have won awards from national and regional bodies for the quality of their facilities, and also their environmental achievements.
Silverdale Holiday Park was named by the AA as its 2011 park of the year, beating over 3000 other UK parks to the prestigious title.
Holgates parks have also been praised by world-famous conservationist David Bellamy for their many different initiatives which help to protect the natural world.