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Scottish independence: No referendum tourism fears

Alex Salmond addresses last year's independence rally in Edinburgh. Picture: Jane Barlow

Alex Salmond addresses last year's independence rally in Edinburgh. Picture: Jane Barlow

  • by BRIAN FERGUSON
 

TOURISM chiefs have insisted they have no concerns about the impact of the independence referendum next year.

VisitScotland said there was no evidence that potential visit­ors would be put off taking a holiday north of the Border.

The agency said it was confident Scots would be “fully welcoming” to the English next year, when the independence debate will see unprecedented media attention focused on the country.

Chairman Mike Cantlay said cross-party support meant the tourism industry was unlikely to be brought into the independence debate, despite the second Year of Homecoming next year.

Mr Cantlay was speaking ahead of the launch of a campaign to raise the nation’s profile ahead of its hosting of the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup, and the 700th anniversary cele­brations of the Battle of Bannock­burn.

The drive – dubbed Scotland Welcomes The World – is being launched to coincide with Scottish Tourism Week, aimed at raising the profile of the £11 billion industry.

VisitScotland believes 2014 is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the industry because of the combination of events being held, particularly with the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup coming within a few months of each other.

The Scotland Welcomes The World campaign, which will be launched on Tuesday with the unveiling of a promotional video soundtracked by rock band Biffy Clyro, is aimed at ensuring both the tourism industry and the Scottish people play the “perfect hosts”.

Mr Cantlay said: “We have never had two world-class events like this in the same year.

“We have a period coming up to create the momentum to set us up for the second half of the decade. We want the whole of Scotland to welcome the world from right now through to 2015.

“The political support for what we are trying to do is cross-party. The goodwill messages from across the political divide and across the parliaments for us is very strong.

“Of course, people will feel welcome from England. The constitutional settlement is not an issue that comes to people’s minds when they are choosing a holiday, thankfully.

“There is no evidence that the referendum debate has an impact on tourism. That’s important because the English market is absolutely key to Scotland. Scotland has always been and will be fully welcoming to people from across the UK – this year, next year and forever.

“It is important to send out the message.”

Half of Scotland’s domestic tourism business comes from south of the Border, with some six million people making overnight visits from England.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “Scots are renowned across the world for our warm welcome for all nationalities – a welcome that will be warmer than ever in 2014.”

 

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