Letter: Value of tourism

VisitScotland's chief executive Malcolm Roughead tells us that tourism in Scotland is now worth £11 billion per year (your report, 29 December). Just a few months ago the nation was led to believe the figure was £4bn but now Deloitte reports that rather a lot of day trips - which apparently total £7bn - had gone unnoticed.

It's a small figure; easy to miss, nonetheless it didn't cross Mr Roughead's radar screen.

What this tells me is that VisitScotland hasn't a clue how much revenue is generated from tourism and therefore we have no accurate way of measuring whether the 48 million budget for VisitScotland is well spent.

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Remember this is an organisation which said Homecoming generated 53.5m in revenue but then had its figures blown out of the water in an official report by Dr Geoff Riddington, who said the real figure was 38.8m and that the agency's job creation figure estimate was 70 per cent too high.

The 2010 annual accounts also stated, in an astonishing display of marketing and PR naivety, that 154m of positive international media coverage was generated for Homecoming and Scotland in the year.

Need I remind students of the absurd that this was the period that the premature and ill-advised release of Lockerbie mass murderer Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi dominated global headlines. Let me take an educated guess and suggest the highly negative media coverage generated by that shameful event easily tops 1bn and is possibly more.

Clearly statistics, measurement and simple sums are a problem for VisitScotland, a problem it shares with most of the country's bloated quangos. Anyway, here's my New Year teaser for them and your readers.

If the taxpayer didn't fork out almost 48m per annum for VisitScotland and its numerically challenged staff, what would be the financial effect on tourism? a) No effect b) a little c) a lot?

Jack Irvine

Ironmonger Lane