Russia spat could hit Scottish tourism, say business leaders

David Watt: 'fraught relations'.
David Watt: 'fraught relations'.
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Business leaders yesterday warned that rising tension with Russia would harm Scotland’s tourism trade and hit exports in the aftermath of Brexit.

David Watt, executive director of the Institute of Directors in Scotland, said fraught relations with Russia were unhelpful at a time when the UK should be forging new trade relations.

“This could have come at a better time shall we say, given that in almost a year to the day we are going to be leaving the European Union and we are looking to develop new markets,” Watt said.

“So given that background it is probably not good news from a trade perspective.

“Russia is relatively accessible when it comes to the countries beyond Europe. It is not that inaccessible, so from a trade point of view we don’t want deteriorating relationships which we are having now.”

Watt also warned that Russian tourism to Scotland would also be affected. “There will be a big impact on tourism and Russians who go abroad and come to Scotland tend to have a significant amount of money and inhabit places like the jewellers of George Street. That will have a significant impact on tourism, because while not massive numbers they are fairly affluent people.”

With the UK importing some Russian oil and gas, the petrochemical industry is also looking at ways of making up a potential short-fall.

Oil & Gas UK market intelligence manager Adam Davey said: “The UK is a net importer of oil and gas; however only a small proportion of UK energy demand is met from Russian sources.”