Wednesday, June 30, 1999 Published at 07:58 GMT 08:58 UK
Tourism to weather gloomy figures
Edinburgh Castle: A major tourist attraction
The Scottish Tourist Board has struck an optimistic note, despite reporting its gloomiest turnover in Scotland for several years.
Tourism bosses blame the strong pound, poor weather and the 1998 World Cup for a 6% fall in tourism turnover last year.
Total tourism turnover in Scotland for 1998 was £2.47bn.
A 38% fall in the number of Scots holidaying in their own country contributed to the 6% overall decline.
Board Chairman Lord Gordon of Strathblane said the fall was disappointing after record figures achieved in the previous three years.
"An increasing number of competitive destinations beckon visitors from around the world and we must benchmark ourselves against the best.
"The tourism futures group has analysed current and future trends in the industry and this will be reflected in the new strategic plan for tourism to be presented later this year," he said.
The overseas tourism market to Scotland increased by 6%, from £891m to £940m, while the English short break holiday market also rose by 6%, from £126m to £133m.
STB Chief Executive Tom Buncle said tourism would become the world's biggest industry by the end of this year, presenting Scotland with "a huge opportunity" as well as a challenge from well-organised competition.
"Businesses are going to have to adjust to more change in the next four years than we have seen in the last 20," he said.
"At the STB, we are going to have to make the adjustment too - and that is why we have begun the process by re-shaping the organisation."
The board will be turning to the new Scottish Parliament for measures which will boost the industry in Scotland.
Lord Gordon said: "We look forward enormously to working with ministers and MSPs to achieve our vision for Scotland's most important industry."