Improve transport in Scotland and make it more affordable for international visitors, tourism chiefs tell MPs

Tourism chiefs have told MPs Scotland needs to emulate Switzerland and invest in improved and more affordable transport for international visitors.

Patricia Yates, chief executive officer of VisitBritain, claimed visitors would come to events like the Edinburgh Fringe, but were then unlikely to move on because it was tricky to get around.

Calling for improvements across UK, she pointed to the system in Switzerland, where visitors could enjoy a single price ticket that takes them anywhere.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Appearing before the Scottish affairs committee in Westminster, Ms Yates said: "In some ways the Edinburgh Fringe in a normal year is a bit of a mixed blessing actually because although it's something you talk about in international markets and you want people to go, it’s really busy and quite expensive.

Tourism bosses hope people come to the Fringe then see the rest of the country.

“So you do actually want people to dip in there, but then to go and explore the rest of the country. So it's incredibly important that we make it easy for people to understand how they can go to a city and then go out and explore.

“So public transport and combined ticketing, if you were trying to wave for a magic wand and integrated transport indeed are areas in which we as a nation and Scotland as a nation could do better because we're not necessarily an easy country to navigate, particularly with rail strikes, for an international visitor.”

Pointing to fares and travel options in Switzerland, Ms Yates said pricing should be more “sensible”. She said: “If you look at why people don't travel, it's because they don't know what there is there, and they can't practically get there.

"I think if you look at other countries, like people keep saying Switzerland to me and their train system, how easy it is to get a single price ticket that takes you everywhere, and we're just not there, are we?

“So it's getting the right transport links, getting the extra mile so you don't just turn up at the rail station and you can't get to the attraction you came to see."

The session also revealed pre-Covid there were 3.5 million overnight visitors to Scotland from international markets versus 15 million overnight trips from the domestic market, but internationals were responsible for 43 per cent of the spend.



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.