The Scottish Government provides on-going financial support for the National Mining Museum Scotland in Midlothian and the national museum of flight, which is part of National Museums Scotland, in East Lothian, both of which are key cultural attractions. As with all areas of Scotland, the fantastic assets of Midlothian and East Lothian are marketed by VisitScotland using marketing campaigns, social media and trade and press familiarisation trips; and through VisitScotland iCentres and VisitScotland information partner programme arrangements with local businesses and community groups.
VisitScotland visitor guides and dedicated regional microsites feature attractions and activities in Midlothian and East Lothian, and wider VisitScotland campaigns feature the area as part of themes around food and drink, for example. Two 2017 year of history, heritage and archaeology partner programme events have taken place in Midlothian to date and two have already taken place in East Lothian, with another two scheduled to follow in September.
Does the cabinet secretary agree that cultural events such as Musselburgh’s riding of the marches, the Midstock music festival in Dalkeith country park and the more recent return of the historic Dalkeith station bell to Dalkeith museum all help to provide substantial financial and cultural benefits to my constituency?
I do indeed. Recent statistics on why people visit the Lothians showed that scenery and landscape account for 60 per cent, and history and culture account for 53 per cent. There are two aspects to consider here, one of which is that we want to ensure that our country is open and welcoming to visitors, which means that anything resulting from Brexit that would mean that visitors had to have visas would be detrimental. Secondly, an issue that is probably as important but more immediate is the future of the European Union nationals who help to support our tourism and culture industries. EU nationals form 10 per cent of those who are employed in the tourism industry in Scotland. It is therefore imperative that the negotiations that are due to start on 19 June establish the importance and recognise the status of EU nationals who live here and contribute to our economy, including the tourism economy, which they also do in the member’s constituency.
I had the pleasure of visiting the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick a few weeks ago. I was shown its extensive and ambitious plans for the marine centre, and strongly evident in the plans was the opportunity for education. There have been no formal approaches yet about taking the project forward. The centre has undertaken ambitious fundraising activity and it obviously wants to establish that before it contacts us on the matter. The centre is a fantastic tourism project. It showed vision at the outset when it was established, and it is a very good example for the rest of Scotland of what vision and ambition can do for visitor attractions.