Tartan dollies in tubes – or what effect will independence have on tourism?


One of the concerns which we have heard at some recent Yes roadshows in rural Clydesdale is that the tourism industry  is struggling and some businesses have wondering how independence would affect them. Would it be a draw for tourists or a disaster? 

The tourism potential of southern Scotland is definitely under-rated and under promoted. If the beautiful and historic areas in southern Scotland were in Cumbria, the hills would be packed with walkers, people would come to watch our ospreys, and eat our excellent locally produced food. But would Independence change this? Probably not. The problem is could be addressed now by local councils working with tourist bodies such as VisitScotland and local people if they woke up to what potential there is. This is something which needs fixed regardless of the referendum result!

What about other ways in which Independence might affect tourism? Although views differ on this, we might end up with a different currency to the rest of the UK, something which my party, the Greens favour. Would this deter tourists? I doubt it! The UK already has a currency which it doesn’t share with any other country, but this does not deter tourists any more than it prevents us from holidaying abroad. People in the south of England don’t let the fact that France has a different currency stop them from hopping across the channel for days out or shopping!

After Independence we might have a different tax system to the rest of the UK. But what’s that got to do with tourism? Well, if we could control our tax system we could reduce VAT, a tax which falls disproportionately on the less well off, and recoop the income from more progressive taxation. This would make goods and services purchased in Scotland cheaper than in England, which would attract tourists, particularly to areas close to border.

Of course onerous border controls  might put off tourists, but if we signed the Schegen agreement we could reduce border controls with most EU countries. The UK hasn’t signed Schegen so if border controls were to be erected it would be up to England. It seems unlikely that this would happen, but it did let’s not forget that Checkpoint Charlie and the Berlin Wall were once amongst the tourist highlights of Berlin!

Finally airports. We have airports. Strategically important airports. So we will continue to be able to welcome visitors travelling by air. Except that Lord Fraser of Carmyllie the former Solicitor General for Scotland has warned that if Scotland was left “undefended” (possibly because it had removed weapons of mass destruction from its soil) England have no alternative “but to come and bomb the hell out of Glasgow airport and Edinburgh airport.” Really? This sounds like just another scaremongering statement from the pro-Union campaign!

So in conclusion I don’t think that Independence poses a threat to our tourist industry, and could offer new opportunities to welcome visitors from around the world including the rest of the UK to our wonderful area! And of course there will still be shops on the Royal Mile selling tartan dollies in tubes!



5 thoughts on “Tartan dollies in tubes – or what effect will independence have on tourism?

    • Apologies for inflicting that disturbing thought on you Andrew! I was meaning to post this on the Radical Independence D & G blog, but I still tend to fumble around doing things on WordPress. Well it might as well stay on Biggarideas now it’s there. Anyway I don’t think staying in the Union will prevent the sale of tartan dollies in tubes either!

  1. Mainly lack of publicity I think. The local councils don’t seem to want to promote them. South Lanarkshire Council with its focus on the urban area isn’t even a member of Visit Scotland and tries in a half-hearted kind of why to do its own promotion of the area, but doesn’t do it well. I had to point out to them recently that the picture they had to illustrate a description of a walk in Lowther Hills was in fact the much smaller Bizzyberry Hill in Biggar and that they had the same photo forTinto Hill and Coulter Fell! They said they couldn’t afford to send a photographer out! You rarely read anything in walking magazines about this area. D&G and SBC do promote their areas a bit. A proper campaign to publicise the area would make a huge different as the hills are at least as good as the Lake District and less crowded. So many folk from England just blast through the area when travelling north to the Highlands.

    Maybe another factor is that in some cases you have to walk across fields to get to the open hillside. You have every right to do this, but some people especially those used to the more controlled access situation in England are a bit uncomfortable about doing this.

    I guess in some areas the estates may not particularly encourage access, although generally they don’t seem too obstructive.

    Another factor might be the lack of cosy country pubs and tea shops to retire to after a walk, although that’s a chicken and egg situation.

    Looking at Peebles a few determined individuals making mountain bike tracks there a decade or so ago has transformed the area, and led to lost of spin offs! Hopefully as cycle paths spread out from there they will spread the biking boom! I know there are various community-led initiatives in the pipeline for things like walking and cycling trails through the Clyde Windfarm, better paths around Biggar and possibly for a canoe trail on the upper Clyde (when I get time to follow this up!), but there isn’t an overall strategy that I can see coming from the councils (certainly not from SLC)

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