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Wednesday, 7 November, 2001, 20:03 GMT
Tourism leaders look for answers
Alasdair Morrison speaks
Tourism minister Alasdair Morrison addressed the conference
Tourism leaders have been meeting to discuss ways of sustaining the industry through a spate of recent problems.

The Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA) conference has brought together 500 members with responsibilities ranging from historic buildings to modern science centres.

Tourism is one of Scotland's most important industries, employing 178,000 people and injecting 2.5bn into the economy annually.

Scottish tourism has suffered
But the strong pound, the cost of fuel, the foot-and-mouth outbreak and recent terrorist attacks in the USA have all had significant effects on the tourism industry.

The ASVA conference in Crieff, Perthshire, has been aimed at giving delegates a set of tools to combat these problems by concentrating on issues like branding, meeting visitors' expectations and making the most of Scotland's natural assets.

The association said it was an opportunity to hear new ideas and share knowledge about making tourism in Scotland sustainable in the current, difficult climate.

Ian Gardner, chairman of the ASVA, said: "Visitor attractions are an integral part of leisure tourism in Scotland and ASVA is committed to driving up the quality standard in this sector.

"At a time when many are finding it a challenge to take on board yet another threat to their livelihood, the conference offers an opportunity for our members to benefit from specific practical support."

Scotland's tourism minister told the conference that home visitors could help make up the numbers as tourists from overseas, especially America declines.

Alasdair Morrison said: "We have to try and grow our share of the United Kingdom market. We have to grow our share of the German, the French, the Dutch and the Italian markets. And that is something that is ongoing, and the marketing campaigns are about to be launched."

Andrew Anderson reports
"Americans make up a small percentage of those taking holidays in Scotland, but they are the big spenders."
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