There is clear mutual interest for cross-border collaboration. As well as the long-standing informal linkages between VisitScotland and relevant tourism bodies in the north of England, the Scottish Government understands that Carlisle City Council, Cumbria County Council, Northumbria County Council, Dumfries and Galloway Council and Scottish Borders Council continue to work together to develop cross-border tourism as they build on the borderlands initiative.
I am pleased that the cabinet secretary mentioned the borderlands initiative. One of the strands of that initiative is to build and promote the borderlands as a tourist destination but, after an encouraging start, there is a feeling among some stakeholders that progress has stalled. To date, no strategy or development plan has been published.
I acknowledge that to move it forward will require the co-operation of the United Kingdom and Scottish Governments, as well as local councils, and the Scotland Office has confirmed to me that it shares my desire to move the initiative forward. Does the cabinet secretary agree that the Scottish Borders has a lot to offer as a tourist destination and will she pledge to do more to promote cross-border co-operation on tourism?
With my new responsibilities for tourism, I will take a close interest in tourism in the Scottish Borders and the rest of the south of Scotland. I am due to meet the other tourism ministers from across the UK and—with their agreement—I will ensure that that is an item that we discuss.