Around 100 delegates from across the hospitality and tourism industries attended the ‘Beyond the Referendum’ debate, which was organised by the Institute of Hospitality Scotland, the British Hospitality Association and the Scottish Tourism Alliance.
The event heard from tourism minister Fergus Ewing MSP and parliamentary under-secretary for state David Mundell MP, as well as a panel which included Katie Corrigan, head of hospitality and leisure at Tods Murray Solicitors, Rebecca Brooks, managing director of Abbey Tours Scotland, professor Brian Hay and historian and author Michael Fry.
Ewing made the case for a ‘yes’ vote, claiming Scotland would be “better off running her own affairs”; while Mundell represented the ‘Better Together’ campaign, saying Scotland currently has “the best of both worlds”.
Much of the panel discussion centred on currency in the event of a ‘yes’ vote, with Abbey Tours Scotland boss Brooks saying uncertainty over what Scotland’s currency would be if it becomes independent is impacting on the tourism industry.
“Currency is key,” she said.
“England is our biggest [visitor] market and it could have huge implications.
“Fluctuations in other currencies has a dramatic impact on visitors to Scotland.
“In an industry where we need pricing to market at least 18 months in advance, we need to know.”
Ewing made the case for a Sterling zone in the event of independence, while Mundell said a currency union “simply wouldn’t work”.
The wide-ranging discussion also addressed Scotland’s relationship with the rest of the UK in the event of a ‘yes’ vote, ‘regulation or deregulation’ and ‘devo max’.
In an initial snapshot poll of delegates’ voting intentions ahead of the debate, 34 of those who took part said ‘no’, four voted ‘yes’ and 21 were undecided. After the debate, 33 people said they intended to vote ‘no’, six said ‘yes’ and 17 people said they were undecided.