The Scottish Government fully recognises the importance of tourism to Scotland’s rural economies. The rich and diverse attractions on offer are actively promoted by VisitScotland through a range of both digital and traditional channels across both domestic and international marketing campaigns.
Other public bodies also play a key role in supporting tourism development in rural areas, through, for example, business and destination support from Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, training and development through Skills Development Scotland, and promotion and enhancement of the natural and heritage environments through Scottish Natural Heritage and Historic Environment Scotland.
An exact figure for our ongoing multi-agency support is not available. However, the Scottish Government separately announced £3 million in extra funding for the rural tourism infrastructure fund, on top of the £6 million that has already been awarded. We have also just confirmed additional support to promote food and drink tourism.
A lot of the work to promote Midlothian is co-ordinated by the Midlothian and Borders tourism action plan, which is now in phase 2.
A lot of the support is for individual businesses, particularly around a digital offer for their marketing.
VisitScotland’s spring 2019 campaign promoted family breaks in the region for visitors within a two-hour to four-hour drive time. It focused on Dalkeith country park and Roslin Glen, but also included Lasswade stables and Rosslyn chapel. The launch of Midlothian and Borders Tourism Action Group’s brand new “Scotland Starts Here” marketing campaign website and tourism app will also direct people to areas that are, perhaps, less known in terms of promotion of tourism within Colin Beattie’s constituency.
The cabinet secretary knows that the Scottish Borders is an amazing place for tourism, but there are more opportunities waiting to be explored. Can the cabinet secretary tell me why, specifically, funding from the Scottish Government has been more than halved over the past five years, from £138,000 to £55,000?
I am afraid that when Rachael Hamilton asked her question she did not say who the funding was for. Clearly, Scottish Government funding is given to VisitScotland, which is the national agency for tourism. Could the member write to me identifying the organisation that she asked about? It was not clear in her question.