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Henry McLeish sets out his arguments for change
"I want us to be more confident, more aspirational"
 real 28k

Forbes McFall takes soundings from the industry
"The Irish Tourist Board has three times the budget"
 real 28k

David Clark, British Hospitality Association
"Scotland has tremendous opportunities"
 real 28k

Audio
"The minister has recognised the importance of tourism to the Scottish economy"
 real 28k

Hayley Millar reports
"Special focus will be given to niche marketing"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 16 February, 2000, 19:44 GMT
Tourism searches for its niche

McLeish with Saltire Mr McLeish wants a change in strategy


A new plan has been unveiled to breathe life into Scotland's tourism industry.

Announcing an £11m boost for the industry, Enterprise Minister Henry McLeish said he wanted to change the emphasis of the industry and generate an extra £500m for the economy.

High among his priorities are online booking, e-commerce and a new marketing campaign.

Single destination

Measures announced also include the promotion of niche marketing such as business trips, golfing holidays and tracing family trees.

Mr McLeish told BBC Scotland: "We are underperforming, we could do much better. We want to shift from generic marketing to niche marketing, we want to improve quality.

"Technology is the key. There are many positive things happening, but overall, I just want the industry to be more confident, more aspirational and set our ambitions much, much higher."

Cairn Gorm ski area Activity holidays like skiing feature in the strategy
Until now, the Scottish Tourist Board has focused on generic marketing, selling Scotland as a single destination.

Welcoming the announcement, board chairman Lord Gordon of Strathblane said he was delighted the executive had moved tourism to the top of the political agenda.

"Tourism is facing up to many challenges in Scotland at the moment and is holding up well against a changing environment," he said.

"What is important as far as our industry is concerned is that this is a unique and important opportunity for Scottish tourism to come of age, recognise the faith that Government has placed in it and unify behind a new vision for tourism.

Budgets reduced

"That's what this strategy is about and that¿s what the Scottish Tourist Board is committed to."

David Clark, chairman of the British Hospitality Association, said: "Scotland has tremendous opportunities in terms of golfing, activity and the environment.

"I believe that's got to be focused on. In a global economy, you've got to stand out, find a way of actually attracting people. In our case, attracting people to stay in Scotland.

"Sometimes it's a case of stating the obvious."

Irish Tourist Board website Irish Tourist Board: Competing with Scotland
More money will be spent on selling the industry by telephone and by the internet through a centralised call centre.

Local authorities will also have to commit more funding for area tourist boards or the role could be taken from them and their budgets reduced.

At the moment, councils are not obliged to fund their local tourist boards, which often cover more than one authority area.

Tourism is Scotland's biggest employer, creating work for at least 170,000 people, but the industry has been riven for years by in-fighting.

The Scottish Tourist Board has been accused of failing to act in all its members' best interests and there have been complaints about a lack of funding for promoting the industry.

'Untapped pool'

One of Mr McLeish's biggest challenges will be improving the industry's image and encouraging people to view it as a viable career.

Mr McLeish's vision is founded in the belief that there is a large untapped pool of people who want to find out more about Scotland and, particularly, their own roots.

Oban Harbour Scotland has been sold as a single destination
He has quoted the popularity of the online service run by the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (the Mormons), in Salt Lake City, Utah.

When they posted their detailed records of births, marriages and deaths they were inundated with 12 million hits in one weekend.

The Scottish Executive's website includes detailed records which go back further, to 1570, and include details of 15 million people.

There had been speculation that Mr McLeish's reforms would lead to the effective disappearance of the Scottish Tourist Board, or its merger into enterprise networks across Scotland.

The latest figures for tourism income in Scotland show a decline until last year, when it held more or less steady at £2.5bn.

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See also:
16 Feb 00 |  Scotland
Ossian is jewel in tourism crown
09 Dec 99 |  Scotland
Minister signals enterprise re-think
27 Jul 99 |  UK
MPs attack 'MacFawlty Towers'
30 Jun 99 |  UK
Tourism to weather gloomy figures

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