It has a very important role. Scotland has a strong reputation as the perfect stage for major events, and we are proud to have hosted a number of high-profile events. The 2014 Commonwealth games welcomed visitors from across the world, with an estimated 600,000 ticket buyers from outside Scotland. The world gymnastics championships were a great success in 2015, and just last month 17,000 spectators enjoyed the world badminton championships in Glasgow. More than 200,000 tickets for next year’s European championships are on sale, and the event has a potential television audience of more than 1 billion people, who will see what Scotland has to offer from the streets of Glasgow. There will also be three days of road races, the stunning Loch Lomond will be used for the open-water swimming and the renowned Gleneagles will be used for golf. As Scotland is the home of golf, golf tourism is worth £268 million annually, and the Scottish Government supports events such as the Scottish open, the ladies’ Scottish open and the open championship.
I thank the cabinet secretary for that answer and I would like to focus on one aspect of it. The Barclay review of business rates has called for rates relief to be removed from some of Scotland’s golf courses that currently receive it, including ones that attract tourists to Scotland. The Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution is currently considering that option. Is the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs concerned about the potential effects on tourism to Scotland if business rates are dramatically increased for some of those courses, which could lead to higher green fees and even the closure of golf courses altogether?
The Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution is sitting next to me. He has responded in part to the Barclay review and will be considering other aspects in relation to golf. People come here for the quality of our golf. High-net-worth travellers come to participate in golf tourism, which, as I said, provides a net value of £268 million. Barclay has clearly assessed that, and Gordon Lindhurst can make representations himself, but we must drive forward our agenda for tourism based on what we have on offer. Gordon Lindhurst must reflect on what the equitable response is when Scotland has challenges on business rates, and on what is fair and appropriate.
I have reflected on the economic impact. Looking forward, we have the European championships in 2018, as I mentioned, as well as the world junior curling championships, and in 2019 we will host the Solheim cup and the European indoor athletics championships. A lot of hard work goes into the bids to secure those events, and that work has an impact on tourism.