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30 July 2018

Investment key to securing tourism's economic lifeline

Dani Garavelli’s article (Insight: Visitor numbers drive Highlands into tourist trap, 22 July) underlined the importance of government and business working together to deliver sustainable growth in our tourism industry. That means ongoing infrastructure investment and a high quality offering from Scottish businesses, as well as national marketing efforts. Glenfinnan Monument Loch Shiel Lochaber (2)

In many areas of rural Scotland – including the North Highlands – tourism is the largest industry, without which there would be little reason for the working age population to stay. In our cities and towns, tourists bring vital revenue to our hospitality and retail operators – sectors already facing severe challenges – ensuring that locals can use these businesses all year round.

Indeed, the importance of our tourism industry is underlined by the very existence of VisitScotland - an agency dedicated to marketing Scotland to the world - which helped convince 3.2 million overseas tourists to visit our country in 2017 and spend £2.3 billion in our local economies.

Dunrobin Castle Golspie Sutherland (2)However to facilitate this Scottish success story we must see investment in transport and digital infrastructure. We must see better links between education and our hospitality industry – so that we can give our visitors the high quality experience they deserve (and indeed expect). We must ensure that our tourist hot-spots are maintained and protected. At the very least, the Scottish Government should extend its rural tourism infrastructure fund for another year.

Many in tourism are alarmed by the casual anti-visitor sentiment that has been adopted by many – which stands in stark contrast to the hospitable spirit adopted ahead of Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games just four years ago.  Scotland should want to welcome the world’s visitors – and we must be ready for them.  

Yours faithfully,

Andrew McRae, Scotland Policy Chair, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)


This article first appeared in Scotland on Sunday