VisitScotland (Funding)

Question Time — Scottish Executive — Education and Young People, Tourism, Culture and Sport – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:00 pm on 11th November 2004.

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Photo of Mike Watson Mike Watson Labour 2:00 pm, 11th November 2004

To ask the Scottish Executive how the recently announced new marketing funding for VisitScotland will be spent. (S2O-4002)

Photo of Patricia Ferguson Patricia Ferguson Labour

The 28 per cent increase over three years that we announced in March supports our ambition to grow tourism revenues by 50 per cent over the next decade. We will sustain that level of additional funding through to 2008, on the basis that it is matched by the private sector, thus doubling its effectiveness.

Photo of Mike Watson Mike Watson Labour

The money has been much welcomed by the industry. How will it be targeted at areas such as business tourism, the short-break market and the route development fund? Specifically, how will it be targeted at the quality assurance schemes, which ensure that Scotland's tourism product—in the widest sense—is of the highest possible standard? The schemes are very important not just in attracting people to Scotland, but in attracting them back to Scotland.

Photo of Patricia Ferguson Patricia Ferguson Labour

The member will know that the route development fund is not administered from my portfolio. However, I am aware that during the past two years the number of direct routes into Scotland from other parts of the world has increased by 18.

VisitScotland's marketing campaign will be extended to include Northern Ireland and the midlands, as well as Sweden, Germany, France, Spain, Holland, Italy and Belgium.

The member is right to regard quality assurance as vital and we are keen to strengthen that area. For that reason, we have given £3 million over this year and next year to strengthen VisitScotland's quality assurance schemes. Those schemes already reach about 80 per cent of the accommodation and visitor attraction market in Scotland and we have set a target of increasing that figure to 90 per cent over the next three years. The marketing of major events such as the under-21 rugby world cup, the Heineken cup and the mountain bike world cup is important to that effort. We also hugely value business tourism.