Tourism (Scottish Borders and Midlothian Councils)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 10th March 2021.

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Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

We try to treat all businesses with parity of esteem and to be consistent in providing lifeline support. That has been, I think, the correct principle to apply throughout. Colin Smyth has made a very fair point that businesses in the Borders area, and in Dumfries and Galloway, have a particular reliance on the market of visitors who come from England. That is absolutely understood. In fact, I discussed the issue this morning in a call with representatives of the Scottish weddings sector—which is, of course, concentrated in Gretna—including Alasdair Houston, who made those points very crisply and effectively.

We are acutely aware of the importance of the issue. We all wish to see a reopening of the market and to welcome again our good friends from England—our nearest neighbours—to continue to enjoy Scottish hospitality and custom, just as soon as we can safely do so.