THE new boss of a Dorset-based holiday park operator is on a mission to keep people taking ‘staycations’.

Rod Tucker, who joined the caravan industry in 1976, has been appointed managing director of Highcliffe-based Hoburne Ltd.

He wants to see people continuing to holiday in Britain after the series of factors that kept many from going abroad in recent years.

A year ago, having been chief executive of a large residential and holiday park operator for seven years, he was resigned to leaving the industry, turning down other offers and focusing all his attention on his other passion, property development.

But he grabbed the opportunity when the job at Hoburne came up.

Between them, Hoburne and its sister company Burry and Knight run seven holiday parks, including Hoburne Naish and Hoburne Bashley in Hampshire and Hoburne Park in Dorset; three golf courses, including Crane Valley in Verwood and Bulbury Woods near Wareham; property development company Hoburne Development; and electrical company Hoburne Electrical.

Mr Tucker was chairman of the National Caravan Council from 2010-12 and involved in influencing the government to drop plans to apply 20 per cent VAT on static caravans.

He said: “I have known Hoburne very well for a long time, so I knew what the company was all about.

“You cannot pin down another company quite like Hoburne. There are quite a few small businesses with similar values and ethos, but nothing the size of Hoburne with its diversity and quality. Recent developments like Hengistbury Heights at Hoburne Naish are really impressive; the attention to detail with landscaping, lighting and colour co-ordination, it’s very exciting.”

He said there were exciting and challenging times ahead.

“The industry, as a whole, has been very lucky. Overseas property horror stories, airport delays, even the ash clouds, all helped keep people in this country,” he said.

“We have got to offer the customer a good service, good quality and good value. A lot of families have tried ‘staycations’ in recent years, now we have to stop them going back to buying overseas properties and only taking overseas holidays.

“We need to work on the strengths of our holiday industry and it’s a big challenge. But the quality parks will benefit.

“I have always had a strong customer service ethic and found that staff like working for a family business and customers like being part of a family business; they feel more secure.

“Hoburne is understandably well respected in the industry and I am very proud to join such a successful family business and be given the baton to take the company forwards.”

His track record is impressive – turning a loss-making concern into a very profitable operation, restructuring companies, improving profits and developing staff.

The latter is key to his business beliefs.

“I have a very open management style. Nothing depresses me more in business than seeing managers not exploiting the full potential of their staff.

“I like developing people. It’s good to see people progress through the business. I have known people who started as seasonal staff and are now park managers – and I love that.”