Visitors from China spend £36 million per year in Scotland. Last year, the First Minister said:
“Tourism is a vital part of Scotland’s economy, and these figures demonstrate the growing significance of Chinese visitors”.
However, yesterday we learned that the provider of Scotland’s only direct route to the country has stopped taking bookings from September and that the future of the route is now in doubt. Does the First Minister share my concern that the loss of that route would represent a huge loss to the Scottish economy and Scottish tourism, and that the Government should do everything in its power to retain such routes?
The Scottish Government works very hard with our airports to protect air routes. We are disappointed that Hainan Airlines has suspended the winter schedule for its service. We hope that the service will return for the summer season, when passenger numbers are likely to be higher, and we will work with the airport and the airline to secure that. Hainan Airlines obviously operates other services, and we hope that it will continue its Dublin and Edinburgh service.
Our tourism sector has been an area of success in recent years. We know that the sector faces a number of challenges, and we will continue to work closely with it to support the continued sustainable growth of that Scottish economic success story.