You’ve all done very well!

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

This is the time of the year when home countries celebrate tourism.

An old and new Scottish tourist attraction; the new V&A Dundee and the RSS Discovery

Usually they take the form of tourism weeks when the industry discusses practical issues like VAT reductions for tourism products, recruiting staff and where replacement people for returning EU citizens might come from. Elected representatives are invited along to say how wonderful and important tourism is and how tourist works are doing a great job.

A week or so later, most of this is forgotten and the news reports are as stale as last week’s loaf of bread.

The first “week” of this tourism clambake season is in Scotland where they are in the middle of a tourism month. As part of this navel gazing, there was a debate in the Scottish parliament so Just about Travel sat down with the Hansard equivalent to see if anything useful for us holidaymakers and travellers emerged from event. Just eleven members spoke plus Fiona Hyslop, the minister responsible for tourism.

Many MP’s just plugged tourist spots, café’s and outlets in their constituencies but that is of little interest to readers.

Although Fiona Hyslop’s speech was the last of the debate there was a bit more meat in her comments than in many of the eleven. It was she who pointed out that although there had been a 3% growth on visitor spend this wasn’t keeping up with the rise in visitor numbers. What she wants is for us to spend more when we visit Scotland and to “spend in the appropriate places and in the appropriate ways.”  I’ll let readers puzzle out precisely what she wants us to do.

She pointed out that because of rising costs in tourism have exceeded 3% in many cases, businesses connected with or in tourism were under real pressure. All is not as rosy as some MSP’s were pointing out. That tourism had over 11% of the workforce made up of EU citizens presented another issue. Where would future workers be found if EU citizens left?

As for the future she referred to a marketing campaign to encourage us to visit the south of Scotland and that work was under way on a new tourism strategy.

When opening the debate, Stuart McMillan let us know that the McLean Museum was now called the Watt Museum (in honour of 2019 being the 200th anniversary of the death of James Watt) and reminded us that the transient visitor levy (accommodation tax) would not come in before 2021 as was announced by Fiona Hyslop a few days earlier. Hyslop didn’t mention this in her speech.

McMillan also pointed out that some camper van tourists were leaving bags of human waste by the side of the road and something needed to be done. I don’t know that I really wanted to know this but if true then camper van tourists should hang their heads in shame at such behaviour.

Patrick Harvie raised an issue not just common to Scotland; that of residential flats being used largely as commercial lets and depriving locals of housing. This is something that all holidaymakers should be aware of when booking accommodation as it sours relations between visitors and locals. It has led to demonstrations in places like Barcelona and legislation in some places to limit for how long rooms/flats/houses are let.

Visitors who have passed through Coatbridge or avoided it might be heartened by the local MSP – Fulton MacGregor – who put forward a case for visiting the area. It made a change from those MSP’s who had well-known tourist haunts in their constituencies and were happy to talk of those whereas what is needed in Scotland – as everywhere else – are other tourist draws to try and spread the benefits of tourism.

But apart from these contributions, for the visitor there wasn’t much to learn. We did learn that nearly every speaker was congratulatory of the industry. In the comment of young Mr Grace in the old sitcom, Are You Being Served, “You’ve all done very well!”

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