“VITAL to the Scottish economy”, “one of our biggest employers” – the praise for our tourism industry just kept on coming from deputy first minister John Swinney as he opened the Scottish Tourism Week conference earlier this month.
In fact, I lost count of the number of times he referred to the sector’s “significance” and “importance” at the event.
In a press release issued afterwards, Swinney is quoted saying the government “recognises not only the direct economic contribution of tourism but also how it helps to support and sustain some of our most fragile communities”.
It is unfortunate then
that, later the same week, the operator of a rural Highland hotel shut up shop, citing the lower drink drive limit – introduced by the Scottish Government even though it does not have the power to alter the penalties – as the final nail in the coffin.
Sadly he is not alone.
Bars, hotels, restaurants and golf clubs right across Scotland – all vital to tourism – have seen trade affected to some degree.
In the wake of the new limit, SLTN has asked the Scottish Government on more than one occasion to comment on the effect it is having on the tourism industry and what it can do to help mitigate that.
A straight answer was not forthcoming.
But surely now, after trade bodies, pub groups and countless independent operators have illustrated the detrimental effect the lower limit is having on licensed trade businesses, the government must take whatever action it can.
Otherwise Mr Swinney and co might not have much of an industry left to crow about.