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Last Updated: Monday, 17 November, 2003, 13:35 GMT
Hopes for a 6bn tourism industry advert
The tourism agency said it was not being forced to relocate
Ambitions for the future of Scottish tourism are being mapped out at a gathering of the industry's movers and shakers.

The meeting in Glasgow is focusing on new ways of attracting and motivating staff and encouraging more custom.

The event is aiming to develop a strategy which will ensure that the target of generating 6bn of visitor income a year is achieved.

The conference, which is the third of its kind, is the result of a partnership between VisitScotland, the British Hospitality Association, the Scottish Tourism Forum and Scottish Enterprise.

Scotland's tourism minister Frank McAveety believes the industry can become one of the leading drivers of economic development north of the border over the next decade.

I'm proud to be a Scot but worry about suggesting a holiday in Scotland to my friends because I know how variable the quality of food and accommodation can be.
Colin G Patten

He said tourism was one of the fastest growing parts of the Scottish economy, and the performance the industry had turned in over the last two years could be sustained long-term so long as public and private sectors work as a single team.

Mr McAveety told the Glasgow conference: "What a change from two years ago. This morning, I have come here first and foremost to salute this industry - an industry that has pulled itself out of the quagmire of 2001 and proved exactly what it can do.

"Yours is a remarkable achievement by any standard. It underpins the statement that this industry is one of the fastest growing parts of the Scottish economy."

Stephen Leckie, from Scotland United which is hosting the event, echoed the upturn in fortunes.

"Our business in Crieff is 6.6% up on last year and that needs to be the case because costs are rising all the time.

'Poor standards'

"Perhaps the weather has made a difference and perhaps for all the sad and wrong reasons September 11 has made a difference.

"Perhaps people are holidaying at home in Britain more and therefore holidaying in Scotland. Those hoteliers, guest house owners and B&B owners who have invested money in the last few years are now reaping the rewards."

Philip Riddle, chief executive of VisitScotland, has in the past experienced poor standards, but he has also seen improvements.

He said: "You can get really good quality in Scotland but unfortunately it is not uniform and it needs to be uniform.

Hotel staff
The industry has seen a recovery in the last two years
"You should expect high quality standards, wherever you go, whatever you want to do."

The area tourist board review by the Scottish Executive was meant to be announced last year, but this has been delayed.

Andrew Matheson from the Scottish Tourism Forum said he finds that frustrating.

"It is outrageous that this has been delayed. I feel very strongly that the minister needs to make an announcement.

"People have been hanging around for three years, they want to know what is happening.

"The industry has moved on, the area tourist boards have moved on. But the area tourist boards employ 600 people and those people have been hanging around without knowing if their jobs are safe," said Mr Matheson

Mr McAveety admitted that the review was not ready because of various factors and new information which had come to light.

However, he added: "What we have recently done is connect tourism with other cabinet ministers, so there are a whole host of ministers looking at the future of tourism which is central to discussions in the cabinet."

BBC Scotland's Nina Macleod
"Tourism insiders say the industry still lacks clear direction"

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