Future tourism

I write in response to your 
report quoting the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) chairman (13 March).

I disagree that the tourism industry has lost its appetite for this debate – my experience from within our business and from those I meet across Scotland is polar to that. The frustration I note is that while those advocating Yes engage in what independence could do, those against are reluctant to do the same for their proposition.

Whatever the referendum outcome, what I have taken from many is a recognition that tourism would be better served by the aspirations described by the current Scottish Government.

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They recognise the current government has given more attention to Scottish Tourism than any previous administration – Scotland has become a player on the global tourism stage, delivering serious prospects for business in 2014 and beyond.

Our businesses are located in Scotland and, regardless of the referendum, we are here to stay.

However, I struggle to understand how businesses could, today, determine where they should locate after a Yes vote; we have no knowledge of what UK stability would be without 
Scotland any more than we know what it would be like in post-No Scotland.

On currency, about 25 per cent of our customers are from overseas – our feedback differs to the STA description. Our overseas agents, who sell bedrooms globally, tell us currency is irrelevant.

STA says the industry position is against independence, but I disagree with that conclusion. Our business is located across Scotland – the strongest feedback we have from peers is an undecided position.

The first poll carried out by STA is taking place now but has been pre-empted by the chair’s comments placing influence on those asked to tick a “yes” or “no” on the STA ballot.

The tourism industry needs an informed position on referendum day to decide whether we should be independent or not. The debate needs to grow but with the No camps presenting their aspirations and commitments after a No vote rather than just naysaying the ambitions Yes have provided.

I note that the STA and the British Hospitality Association will be holding a debate on 20 May. They must ensure balanced, uninfluenced debate for those attending to objectively consider the positions. If STA is to properly represent industry it must challenge equally and objectively all involved in proposing Scotland’s future. Any less could be unrepresentative and diminish this crucial debate.

Paddy Crerar

Crerar Hotel Group