The following is lifted verbatim from the Scottish Conservative Manifesto published on 4th of April. Comments are more than welcome.
The tourism industry is vital to Scotland’s economy and visitor spend is currently around £4.1 billion a year. It provides employment for roughly 210,000 people, spread all over Scotland.
A growth ambition was set by the industry and the Labour/Lib Dem Scottish Executive in 2005 to grow the
revenue from Scottish tourism by 50 per cent over ten years. We are now past the halfway point, with zero growth. If Scotland is going to remain a major player, we believe that it has to compete on quality, not price.
That means getting skills right, getting investment into the industry and getting a year-round strategy.
We need a highly trained and skilled workforce. We have to get everything right, from the welcome to the general standard of customer care. Tourism training in Scotland currently involves over 400 courses provided by 40 different institutions. We will establish a private sector group to deliver a wholesale rationalisation, creating a smaller number of industry-approved courses provided by fewer providers. The system must become demand-led so that we tackle the mismatch that exists between the skills required by employers
and the skills offered by applicants.
Investment is needed to improve the fabric of the industry, yet many tourism businesses are struggling to raise finance at the moment. So we will investigate the viability of a Scottish Tourism Investment Bank, based on the Austrian model.
We will lead development of a “Year-Round Tourism Strategy”. This will help ensure that tourism businesses make a continuous contribution to their local economies and will make employment in the industry more stable and rewarding, which will in turn raise the calibre of entrants and encourage the retention and development of staff.
We will retain the number of Tourist Information Centres (TICs), although encourage premises-sharing with other organisations. We will ensure all TICs provide Scotland-wide information to encourage tourists to travel throughout Scotland.
To encourage more visitors to come to Scotland, we will aim to establish an EU compliant successor to the Air Route Development Fund.
Historic Scotland manages many sites that are in an enviable position for
encouraging visitors to take advantage of a whole host of tourism opportunities across Scotland. We will place a formal obligation on Historic Scotland to promote tourism across Scotland.