The creation of an ‘eco-tourism hub’ could spell the future success of Silverburn Park.
The plans were detailed at a public meeting last week which was attended by around 30 people.
Consultants from Fife Employment Access Trust (FEAT) explained that in order for the park to survive and thrive in the future, a plan must be put in place to share the benefit of the huge numbers of tourists that Fife already enjoys.
And making the most of the adjacent Fife Coastal Path, the group wants to see the creation of not only a 20 bed ‘affordable luxury’ hostel space in the former Flax Mill, but also eco-pods and camping in the grounds.
The Kingdom welcomes over 31 million visitors every year, with over 500,000 of them trying out the Fife Coastal Path.
It is those visitor numbers that FEAT hopes to tap into, with a particular focus on attracting ‘eco-tourists’.
Eco-tourism is a growing industry in Scotland designed for those who not only want to explore a new place, but want to do it responsibly - reducing their carbon footprint, learning about the local landscape and eating local grown and locally-sourced produce.
As well as an affordable hostel, the group hopes to offer eco-pods: specially designed at Methil-based company Microlodges, these fully-insulated pods come in a variety of shapes and sizes, built for two - four people, and with electricity.
It is hoped that by focussing on tourism, Silverburn can become a fully sustainable and economically viable attraction.
“Silverburn Park is open to everybody,” said Alison Crook, consultant for FEAT. “But the key thing is to find a way to make people come more often.
“It has a fabulous environment and is a real jewel in this part of Fife.
“We want to exploit the tourist potential – why should people just whiz past on their way to the East Neuk.
Fellow consultant Peter Mountford-Smith added: “There are different groups of people who will use the park – local people, those from further afield who are ‘day-trippers’ – within an hour of here there are one million people which is a massive market – and tourists.
“Tourism is growing and the domestic market has grown hugely in the past five years.
“There are changes in the type of tourists we’re seeing and a group called Tourist Intelligence Scotland has found that there is a growing trend for eco-tourism – people who want to engage with the areas they are visiting.
“The point is to get people to stay here and to spend money locally.”