Tourism site launched before it's finished

SCOTLAND's new official tourism website is still a work in progress, officials said yesterday at its launch by Jim Mather, the tourism minister.

The new site is seen as crucial in meeting the Scottish Government target of increasing tourism by 50 per cent by 2015. With the 5 billion-a-year trade increasingly reliant on internet reservations, the website was described by Mr Mather as "the gateway to Scotland". This will also make it vital for the "Homecoming 2009" push, where it is hoped descendants of Scots from all around the world will journey here to rediscover their heritage.

Alan Keith, who runs a B&B in Galloway and was a vocal critic of, told The Scotsman that the revamped website represented a good start. "Certainly, VisitScotland has addressed our two major concerns," he said. "The new site no longer hides our contact details and forces people to go through a call centre and, on the searches, the lists are now randomised.

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"Also, the site looks better, more appealing. However, the feedback I am getting from others is that it still seems to be behind the times in terms of links and technology."

Mr Mather claimed businesses across Scotland could flourish following key changes to the website.

A spokeswoman for conceded that further development was necessary. "Of course the website is not a finished product and ongoing evaluation and development will continue," she said.