Radical improvements to roads, railways, ferry networks and air services are needed to help the Scottish tourism industry meet a multi-billion pound target within the next three years, industry leaders have said.
Ensuring better broadband and mobile access, building new “high end” hotels and cruise liner facilities for wealthy travellers, and overhauling historic villages and towns are all identified by VisitScotland as key priorities for the future.
New walking and cycling trails, facilities for outdoor sports like skiing and golf, wildlife tourism attactions, and food and drink-related attractions, like whisky distilleries and craft breweries are to be pursued, according to a report by the agency.
More than 217,000 people were recorded working in the Scottish tourism industry in 2015 – up 11 per cent in the space of 12 months. Nearly 14.9 million visitors flocked to Scotland in 2015 spending just over £5 billion.
However the Scottish tourism industry is trying to boost that figure to up to £6.5bn by 2020 by transforming infrastructure across the country.
More than £16bn worth of planned investment over the next three years is mapped out in the new blueprint, which is aimed at helping to shape major new developments around the country.
Key transport projects include the new Queensferry Crossing, improvements to the main Edinburgh-Glasgow railway line and the dualling of the A9 between Perth and Inverness. Other major schemes include the opening of Dundee’s V&A museum, the refurbishment of Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh Building, a revamp of Stornoway’s harbour and a refurbishment of Perth Theatre.
Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said: “The visitor economy in Scotland supports many jobs across the country and is often the cornerstone of local economies. Realising its growth potential to 2020 through the planning system is an important opportunity to grasp, especially in our challenging economic climate.
“This framework focuses on every single part of the visitor journey, from arrival to departure. Good internet connectivity, smooth roads, informative signage and urban improvement projects are just a few of the hugely important pieces that join together to ensure visitors have the best experience possible while in Scotland, no matter where they go.”
Scottish tourism secretary Fiona Hyslop added: “Tourism is one of Scotland’s most important industries with its benefits and impacts reaching many other sectors of the Scottish economy.”