Nature, heritage and activities such as cycling are all identified as key assets in the industry-led tourism Scotland 2020 strategy. Based on their usage estimates of the national cycle network, the March 2017 research by Sustrans in Scotland and Scottish Enterprise valued cycle tourism as adding £345 million to the Scottish economy in 2015.
On Monday I visited Glentress forest and met local business people from the world-leading mountain biking trails there. I understand that the TweedLove bike festival, which took place over two weeks in May, brought 5,000 visitors and a net economic impact of £594,000 to the Tweed valley economy.
With that answer in mind, does the cabinet secretary agree that when new road infrastructure projects are in the design phase, cycle tracks and walking paths should be integral parts of the design, and does she therefore find it regrettable that the A77 Maybole bypass does not include such plans, which highlights yet again how the south-west of Scotland is excluded from such investment and positive tourism outcomes?
The south of Scotland—Ayrshire in particular—has a focus on outdoor activities and coastal routes. I am not aware of a tourist route around the Maybole bypass, and Brian Whittle’s question relates to tourism.
In connection with rail links, my experience this week in the Tweed valley was that people there have used the opportunity to develop cycle tracks by the railway—as happened with the Bathgate to Airdrie line—using the old solum.
Whether cycling can be included as part of road developments is a matter for Transport Scotland. I understand, for example, that parts of the A9 route development include cycling. Mr Whittle can make applications to Transport Scotland and make his case known, but from a tourism point of view he can be assured that I am investing in and supporting the work of VisitScotland on cycling and cycle tourism.