The most significant change to Callander’s tourist economy is the decline in serviced accommodation and the significant increase in self-catering businesses in the area. Since 2016 7 B&B businesses have closed in Callander.
During the same period the number of self-catering businesses operating from properties that were once residential has increased in the central Callander area from 18 to around 41 and in the rural areas from 5 to 12. Long established self-catering businesses such as Forest Holidays and Woods Leisure have also added more capacity. This reflects a growing demand, by visitors, for more informal holidays and short breaks. In total we estimate that there are 148 separate self-catering units in the Callander area offering a total of 295 rooms per night.
There are 27 hotels, guest houses and B&Bs in the town. Between them, they offer a total of 206 rooms per night. There are also a few informal lets – residents who let out a room in their house for paying guests on a B&B basis but are not an accommodation business.
One possible impact of the rise in self-catering properties is a loss of jobs. Serviced accommodation providers tend to employ staff to cook or to clean the rooms. Self-catering owners tend to either clean their properties themselves or contract the work out to external agencies. The 2011 census tells us that 12.3% of our residents worked in accommodation and food service activities. This equates to around 172 jobs.
Properties that could have housed families are being purchased as self-catering units.This is not yet a significant problem in Callander, with around 3% of residential homes being used as self-catering businesses. However, across the Trossachs and Teith Ward a 2019 Government report estimated that 5.5% residential properties are now operating as self-catering businesses. It is probable that this percentage has increased in the intervening 2 years.
The National Park is responsible for promoting tourism and visitor management strategy.
View details of their visitor management plan and budget here (PDF).
A survey caried out in 2017 for Callander Landscape Partnership (CLP) produced a profile of Callander’s visitors. Access the full survey here (PDF).
The headline findings are that the majority of visitors:
- Are over 60
- Live in Scotland
- Live in the Central Belt
- Are repeat visitors
- Are day trippers
- Enjoyed walking when in Callander
28.8% of the respondents were staying overnight, or longer, with just over half staying in Callander and the rest staying nearby. An aggregated total of 37% were staying in serviced accommodation (hotel, B&B, guest house or hostel)
27.1% people were staying in self-catering accommodation and an aggregated total of 46% stayed in non-serviced accommodation (self-catering, campsite, or caravans).
2020 saw an influx of irresponsible visitors, specifically at Bracklinn Falls and Loch Venachar. Unlike our usual day trippers, these visitors brought little additional custom to our local shops, failed to dispose of their waste (human and packaging) responsibly, blocked access to emergency services and damaged the sensitive environment around Loch Venachar. A temporary clearway has now been imposed at Invertrossachs Road by Stirling Council.
Both LLTTNP and Stirling Council actively promote tourism in the town. Plans by Stirling Economic Development team to create a major visitor attraction along the lines of holiday parks such as Lalandia in Denmark, at Claish Farm would not benefit our existing tourist economy and this proposal was rejected by both CCC and CCDT. The reasons behind this rejection were twofold.
1. This sort of attraction is self-contained, with visitors sleeping, eating, and being entertained within the boundary of the site. There would be little economic benefit to our local restaurants or bars.
2. The community has expressed a clear preference for an environmentally sustainable tourist offer which provided space and facilities for locals as well as visitors and focussed on our green spaces, lochs and hills.
The Park has a policy of actively supporting new-build self-catering properties. It can be argued that this sort of accommodation does have trickle down advantages to our businesses, specifically the food retailers, bars and cafés. However this policy only benefits those with landholdings large enough to accommodate new properties.
Most importantly the existing infrastructure is unable to support the volume of traffic and people a theme park would need to generate so be financially viable. The LLTTNP Callander South Masterplan states that the capacity of the existing A81/A84 junction could only accommodate an additional 120 homes and a 60-bed hotel. Since that report was produced 50 homes have been built and the increase in self-catering accommodation along Invertrossachs Road and the A81 has created the equivalent of 41 additional bedrooms. This leaves the remaining capacity at 70 homes and a 19-bedroom hotel (or self-catering equivalent).