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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 12 November, 2002, 12:11 GMT
Tourism 'break away' call
VisitScotland sign
The SNP wants VisitScotland to become independent
Scotland's official tourism body should break away from its British counterpart to maximise success, industry figures have been told.

The Scottish National Party's tourism spokesman, Kenny MacAskill, also said that VisitScotland should discontinue its "policing" role in the industry and refocus efforts purely on marketing.

His comments came as the party unveiled its "Return to Scotland" strategy which prescribes ways in which to reverse the country's recent difficulties in attracting tourists.

This alternative approach has emerged at a time when the Scottish Parliament is carrying out it's own inquiry into the effectiveness of the executive's tourism strategy.

In a speech to industry figures in Inverness, Mr MacAskill said Scotland should be marketed as a unique product and called on the ministers to make the country "more accessible and affordable".

He said the SNP would:

  • establish a "Return to Scotland" strategy, aimed primarily at young people, to encourage them to holiday in Scotland;

  • establishing VisitScotland as the national tourist body for Scotland, independent of the British Tourist Authority;

  • refocus VisitScotland as a marketing body rather than a policing organisation and make it "properly resourced".

  • address the lack of transport links, particularly through the establishment of a Route Development Fund aimed at delivering more air links to our airports.

Mr MacAskill said: "We live in hard commercial times. As youth hostels shut we are at the same time opening more secure units. Perhaps there is a lesson in that.

"The government has an overarching role in promoting a return to Scotland. The cash strapped local authorities, never mind the beleaguered youth hostels, both private and public, cannot do so on their own.

Strategic drive

"If we can't encourage our own youngsters to return to Scotland how can we expect others to come?"

He said that other countries such as France, the USA and Sweden ensured their young people learned "both of their land and from their land" and stressed the need to "create our own model" for society and culture.

Mr MacAskill said that a "strategic drive" aimed at young people in Scotland would "have a knock on effect for the sector".

Kenny MacAskill
Kenny MacAskill wants to target young Scots
"Hostels that are closed or closing could reopen and blossom," he said.

"The development of a base market could allow marginal business to expand. Seasonal areas could become annual.

"The effect upon rural areas both north and south would be significant. Youngsters who went might return with their parents and depending on their age on their own.

"A love of the countryside, the outdoors and healthy pursuits can be fostered and encouraged. If we can't support our own countryside it is doomed."

See also:

14 Oct 02 | Scotland
12 Aug 02 | Scotland
31 Jul 02 | Scotland
24 Jul 02 | Scotland
11 Mar 02 | Scotland
17 Feb 02 | Scotland
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