BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: UK: Scotland
Front Page 
Northern Ireland 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Sunday, 8 July, 2001, 11:25 GMT 12:25 UK
McLeish criticised over holiday plans
Henry McLeish
Henry McLeish has been criticised over his holiday plans
Scotland's First Minister Henry McLeish, has been criticised by opposition politicians for taking a foreign holiday, as tourism figures at home hit a record low.

Mr McLeish, who has led a campaign to encourage people in Scotland to stay at home this summer, is to fly to Sorrento in Italy later this month for a 10-day break.

His decision comes despite a storm of protest when Tourism Minister, Alasdair Morrison, decided to fly to Italy for a holiday with his family at the height of the outbreak of foot-and-mouth, which decimated visitor numbers.

Earlier this year the first minister led a delegation including Mr Morrison, to America for the Tartan Week celebrations to try and convince US tourists that Scotland was open for business.

Tourism sign
Scotland's tourism industry suffered due to foot-and-mouth

But days after returning from the US, details of Mr Morrison's Easter break in Italy emerged.

His return was met with a storm of protest and he apologised to anyone offended by his decision to holiday abroad.

Political parties north of the Border have been quick to seize on Mr McLeish's holiday plans.

The Scottish Conservative's tourism spokesman David Davidson MSP said: "I'm astounded. I couldn't believe the insensivity of Mr McLeish at this time, when the Scottish tourism industry is at its worst level, and under the greatest pressure for years.

"And he actually, along with his ministers, indicated they would all be spending some part of their summer holidays in Scotland to support the industry and to give confidence.

Spending days abroad

"This is the man who went to America and talked about coming to Scotland for their holidays at the time of the foot-and-mouth crisis and what does he do? First opportunity he bails out and goes to the sun in Italy.

"I don't mind him having a holiday but I would have thought he could have flown the flag more vigorously before he went off to do a second holiday perhaps somewhere else."

A spokesman for the Scottish National Party said: "From Henry McLeish it seems to be 'Do as I say, not do as I do.'

"He's the one who's been urging Scots, and Americans, to take their summer break in Scotland this year after the crisis in Scotland's biggest industry.

Alasdair Morrison
Alasdair Morrison: Came under fire for foreign holiday

"Yet again there is a lack of consistency between Henry McLeish's words and his deeds."

But a spokeswoman for the Scottish Executive defended Mr McLeish's decision, saying: "He has decided, in line with many other Scots, to spend 10 days abroad. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

"The important thing is that he, along with other ministers, has been doing everything he can to boost tourism in Scotland.

"He's already had three short breaks in Scotland. He'll be on holiday in Scotland later in the year and he'll also have his first minister's tour of the country in August."

Mr McLeish's holiday comes as new figures are released showing the number of visitors from overseas dropped by more than 150,000 last year and is the latest in a series of controversies to overshadow efforts to help the ailing industry.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

13 Jun 01 | Scotland
McLeish standards inquiry dropped
08 Jun 01 | Scotland
Labour chiefs in comments row
11 Jan 01 | Scotland
We are a government - McLeish
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Scotland stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Scotland stories