English tourists ‘cancelling holidays to Scotland’

SCOTTISH holiday companies have been faced with cancellations from English tourists worried that there may be “ill feeling” towards them after the referendum - no matter what the result.

Holiday accommodation firms have claimed English tourists are cancelling trips to go to Scotland. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Holiday accommodation firms have claimed English tourists are cancelling trips to go to Scotland. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Companies providing holiday accommodation north of the border say dozens of holidaymakers have contacted them saying that they do not want to holiday in a country where the national feeling is one of division.

They say other English travellers have also cancelled planned breaks because they say they no longer want to support Scotland if it becomes independent.

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“We have had numerous phone calls from customers stating that if we do become independent then they will no longer we willing to support Scotland and won’t be returning for a holiday,” said Amber Swinton, property manager at a company which markets holiday cottages across Scotland. “But of more concern is that people are cancelling holidays they had booked for next year irrelevant of the outcome of the vote.”

She said her company usually had a number of repeat customers from England who booked their Scottish summer holidays immediately after returning from their last one, who had not done so this year.

“A large proportion of our market is from England, as is the case for many other tourism companies like us,” she said. “We have a lot of clients who are passionate about Scotland, who holiday here every year, who have not come back yet this year, which is unusual. It is very worrying.”

Ms Swinton said the company had been deluged with emails from concerned tourists from England.

“Reluctantly we are going to cancel our holiday in Scotland due to all the unrest there,” said one English holidaymaker.

“As the split for Independence is so close which ever way it goes tomorrow, there will be a lot of unhappy people there and do not wish to be taking our holidays where there may be any ill feeling towards the English.”

David Smythe, chairman of the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers, said tourism businesses would “have some work to do” to maintain levels of visitors from England and the rest of the UK, who, according to Visit Scotland figures, account for around two thirds of overnight visits to Scotland.

“People will always want to visit Scotland, no matter which way it goes,” he said. “We are a must-visit country and we always will be.

“However, it is very divisive in Scotland at the moment and the rest of the UK has only just woken up to what has been going on here for two years, which has panicked everybody. We will have to wait for it all to calm down and see how it goes. We may have some work to do to tell people in England that we are still here and that we still want to see them.”

A spokeswoman for VisitScotland said the organisation hoped that the 5 million trips made by English visitors to Scotland each year would “continue to increase” in the future.

She said: “Scotland welcomes visitors from every single corner of the globe to experience our vibrant culture, remarkable heritage, spectacular landscapes and world-class attractions.

“As the recent Commonwealth Games clearly demonstrated, we are a nation renowned for our warm welcome and friendly people, a people reflected by ethnic, religious and cultural diversity. Indeed VisitScotland’s latest Visitor Experience Survey suggested that 80 per cent of visitors to our country stated they were made to feel very welcome by locals while in Scotland. We do not anticipate that will change significantly in the future.”

A poll released today by GoEuro revealed that two thirds of Belgians would find Scotland a more attractive place to visit as an independent country, but that the majority of Dutch holidaymakers would be put off.

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