Page last updated at 17:48 GMT, Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Tourism debate

Tourism Minister Jim Mather told MSPs that figures from the Offiice of National Statistics showed Homecoming Scotland 2009 had been a success, during a debate on the Scottish tourism industry on 16 March 2010.

Mr Mather said the industry would play a crucial role in Scotland's economic recovery.

He said there had been an increase in visitors from North America and from outside Europe and that with the focus of the industry in 2010 being food and drink, there was cause for optimism.

The minister's amended motions was carried after during decision time.

MSPs from Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats highlighted the fact that overseas visitor numbers fell in the first three quarters of 2009 when European visitor figures were taken into account and economic activity in the hotels and catering sector also fell.

Opposition MSPs also stressed that many Scottish tourism businesses were facing significant increases in non-domestic rates without the offer of any assistance from the Scottish government.

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