Page last updated at 00:40 GMT, Monday, 3 May 2010 01:40 UK

Stranraer facilities could secure tourism dividend

Stena Line is currently moving its ferry operations out of Stranraer

A new report has claimed that existing train and pier facilities in Stranraer could be utilised to unlock a multi-million pound tourism dividend.

The study outlines the potential for the town to become a gateway for tens of thousands of visitors by attracting rail tours and small cruise liners.

The document has been produced by the Wigtownshire Chambers of Commerce.

Chairman Peter Jeal said the plans could only succeed if proposals to scrap the town's station were dropped.

Major changes are on the horizon in Stranraer with Stena Line set to move its ferry port out of the town to a site nearer the mouth of Loch Ryan.

Dumfries and Galloway Council has prepared a master plan for how to regenerate the waterfront area.

'Gateway project'

However, the chambers of commerce fears the proposals could "prevent rail-based tourism altogether".

They believe the railway alone has the potential to generate £3.9m for the local economy.

The "gateway project" has the backing of the Stranraer to Ayr Line Support Association (SAYLSA).

Mr Jeal said: "Our approach is not to target millions of individual consumers through expensive and unsustainable marketing campaigns, but to target tour operators who then bring the people here in their hundreds and even thousands.

"What's more, this is an environmentally sustainable way of bringing tens of thousands of people to Wigtownshire to explore all that this area has to offer.

"But all this will be academic unless we can persuade the council to do a u-turn on its current plans for the station."

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