Â£96 million investment in Scottish Borders' visitor journey
The tourism industry in the Scottish Borders stands to benefit from investment of almost Â£96 million over the next three years, a joint initiative between VisitScotland and its key local and national partners has revealed.
The updated Tourism Development Framework, first published in 2013, aims to highlight the importance of the visitor economy within the wider investment and infrastructure plans of local and national agencies. The Framework is closely aligned to and supports the contributions of the industry-led “Tourism Scotland 2020” strategy.
The £96 million figure for the Scottish Borders represents overall public and private sector investment in major infrastructure projects being delivered across the region that are expected to have an impact on the visitor economy and support tourism growth.
Key projects in the Scottish Borders include:
· The Great Tapestry of Scotland
· Innerleithen to Walkerburn Cycle Path
· Glentress Forestry Commission Plan for 65 cabins
· Eyemouth Harbour and Museum
· Improvements to Peebles Hotel Hydro
· Wilton Lodge Park in Hawick
The total amount of investment, across Scotland in the next three years, is estimated to be over £16 billion.
Transport is one of the key themes of the refreshed Framework, with travelling around Scotland a key part of the experience for visitors. Investment projects aimed at enhancing the customer’s transport experience are valued at over £8bn. Major projects include:
· Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Project
· Queensferry Crossing
· Upgrades to improve Scotland’s popular scenic routes, including the dualling of the A9 from Perth to Inverness, and routes in Dumfries and Galloway
· Significant improvements to rail, ferry and airport infrastructure
VisitScotland research has found that cars are the most popular mode of transport used by domestic visitors to Scotland. On average, there were 8.2 million domestic trips to Scotland by car each year from 2006 up to 2014*. In addition, the use of trains to Scotland has increased since the economic downturn, with on average of 1.6 million domestic trips to Scotland each year up to 2014*.
Digital investment worth £486 million is also outlined within the Framework, including plans to deliver fibre broadband access to at least 95 per cent of premises in Scotland by the end of 2017.
The Framework, which is supported by all 32 of Scotland’s local authorities and a range of national agencies, identifies projects that are due to start or be completed over the next three years covering all aspects of the visitor experience including digital, transport, accommodation, nature, heritage, towns and cities, and events and festivals.
Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop said: “Tourism is one of Scotland’s most important industries with its benefits and impacts reaching many other sectors of the Scottish economy. The Tourism Development Framework has identified £16 billion of major projects being delivered across Scotland that will have a positive impact for our visitors, ensuring they can be better connected and have the best possible experience while they’re here – with clear benefits for the visitor economy. I look forward to continuing to work with partners to ensure our tourism industry reaches its full potential and ambition.”
Doug Wilson, VisitScotland Regional Director, said: “The visitor economy in Scotland supports many jobs across the country and is often the cornerstone of local economies. Realising its growth potential to 2020 through the planning system is an important opportunity to grasp, especially in our challenging economic climate. This National Tourism Development Framework refresh sets out actions to support sustainable growth in the visitor economy to 2020.
“The Framework focuses on every single part of the visitor journey in the Scottish Borders from arrival to departure. Good internet connectivity, smooth roads, informative signage and urban improvement projects are just a few of the hugely important pieces that join together to ensure our visitors have the best experience possible while in the Scottish Borders, no matter where they go.
“We are excited by the level of investment in the Scottish Border’s tourism future and aim to ensure this close working between local authorities and planning departments continues, creating real opportunities and benefits for many years to come.”
Councillor Stuart Bell, Scottish Borders Council’s Executive Member for Economic Development, said: “Tourism is absolutely vital to the Scottish Borders’ economy, and the range of developments in the pipeline for the next three years is extremely exciting for the Borders.
“Scottish Borders Council is committed to driving forward a range of key tourism-related projects in this period, not least the Great Tapestry of Scotland visitor centre in Galashiels in respect of infrastructure. The Council is also working with a range of partners to ensure that the area’s excellent events programme continues to bring in tourists from across the UK and beyond, from expanding local events to bringing in those of national and international significance.”
COSLA Spokesperson for Development, Economy and Sustainability, Cllr Stephen Hagan said: “COSLA welcomes the refresh of the National Tourism Development Framework which highlights current investment in the visitor economy across Scotland. Tourism and its positive impact on local economic development plays a vital role in improving outcomes for local communities. Despite a period of uncertainty following the EU referendum I’m heartened to see that a variety of local projects and initiatives are being taken forward in order to raise the profile of the tourism sector which remains of crucial importance to the Scottish economy.”