Tourism leaders warn of Scotland missing key £1 billion target

SCOTTISH tourism leaders have warned the industry faces falling short of a key target of bringing in an extra £1 billion from visitors within the next few years.

Stephen Leckie at Crieff Hydro. Picture: Robert Perry

The Scottish Tourism Alliance has admitted there is no prospect of achieving the figure unless there is an overhaul of current efforts.

Chair Stephen Leckie, chief executive of Crieff Hydro, said the industry could not afford to “rest on its laurels” and hope to achieve the target of £5.5 billion a year in visitor spending, which was set in 2012.

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Every business in the country has been urged to ensure they have online booking in place as part of a new four-year strategy.

Other key aims include attracting new direct flights to Scotland, rolling out broadband and mobile coverage to every corner of the country, introducing an integrated ticketed system for public transport and “developing a more international mindset.”

The new strategy, which was unveiled at the annual Scottish Tourism Week conference in Edinburgh, said the country needed to look to its main competitors overseas to “better understand what our next generation of travellers will be buying.”

Mr Leckie said: “Our findings have reinforced what we already knew. Despite Scotland’s high profile over the last two years, the industry cannot rest on its laurels. Growth will not come to us, we need to go out and find it.”

Marc Crothall, chief executive of the STA, added: “There has been steady growth in visitor spending over the last few years. We are projecting for that figure to be up to £4.7 billion for 2015 when we get the final figures through.

“The trajectory at the moment suggests we could fall short by around £300 million if we do nothing. We have been reassessing our focus and looking at where our priorities should be, and look at see what needs to be put in place to accelerate things.”