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Monday, 24 July, 2000, 12:29 GMT 13:29 UK
Internet hope for Scottish tourist trade
STB promotional material
The number of visitors to Scotland has fallen
Another initiative to give Scotland's tourist trade a boost has been unveiled by Enterprise Minister Henry McLeish.

The industry has seen visitor numbers slide significantly and it has come under fire for poor standards of service.

But the Scottish Executive believes tourism to be vital to the country's economy and Mr McLeish is making it a priority.

To arrest the decline Mr McLeish outlined a new strategy earlier this year and on Monday he urged tourist businesses to get online.

Loch Maree
The pinch is being felt in rural areas
Development of the tourist board's website means people from across the world will be able to book and pay for accommodation on the net.

At the launch of the new service in Edinburgh, Mr McLeish said online international bookings for accommodation and tourist attractions would be commonplace before the end of the decade.

He said: "The internet is now the most powerful marketing tool in the world and the Scottish tourist industry needs to embrace the opportunities it opens up to realise expected future levels of growth."

The minister predicted that by 2003 Scotland could receive an extra 360m from online bookings alone.

'The incentives are there'

Mr McLeish said: "Already we are hearing of success stories from hotels and bed and breakfasts who have joined the on-line revolution.

"The incentives are there for the future. It is now up to the industry to take them".

The executive launched a tourism strategy in February and that recognised the value of the internet with a goal of 90% of the country's accommodation to be trading on-line by 2005.

The executive allocated the trade almost 4m this year to help get things started, but the onus is on individual businesses to invest for future growth.

The current decline of 10% in visitor numbers is being blamed on the strength of the pound and high fuel prices.

The fall, revealed in the tourist board's annual report, also showed spending by visitors is at its lowest level for four years.

In the last year the tourist board has spent some 7.5m, both at home and abroad, on marketing Scotland.

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See also:

07 Jul 00 | Scotland
Tourist trade takes a 'pounding'
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16 Feb 00 | Scotland
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16 Feb 00 | Scotland
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09 Dec 99 | Scotland
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