THE SCOTTISH Parliament has launched an industry-wide consultation programme on how to bolster tourism in the wake of a report showing a 6% decline in spending by tourists in 1998.
The initiative is being spearheaded by new Scottish minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning Henry McLeish, who is seeking the views of all 20,000 tourism businesses in Scotland.
It is backed by the Scottish Tourism Forum, an industry body representing tour operators, hoteliers, attractions and regional tourist boards.
The 6% fall in spending to £2.47bn has been blamed on Scots taking fewer holidays in their own country. Tourism spending by Scots fell by 38% to £353m last year (Travel Weekly July 19).
STF chairman Paul Murray-Smith, who is also managing director of Scottish Highlands Hotels, said: "We have got to attract our own market as well as overseas markets."
His group is still in the process of drawing up itssubmission to the ScottishParliament.
However, Murray-Smith said one of the areas it would focus on was the cumulative effect of government policies involving road tolls, fuel taxes and Air Passenger Duty on the tourism industry.
"We have to look at the whole impact of taxation policy," he said.
Other issues he intends to raise are the quality of Scotland's tourism product and training opportunities within the industry.
Murray-Smith claimed the Scottish Parliament's consultation would concentrate more on 'home issues' than a recently completed 18-month study of Scottish tourism by Westminster MPs. The Scottish affairs committee reported its findings earlier this month (Travel Weekly August 9).
The Scottish Parliament's consultation is set to run until the beginning of October.
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