SNP-Green coalition slammed for ‘failing’ tourism sector

Tourism is a hugely important business in West Dunbartonshire and Argyll.

By Lucy Adams with pictures by Bill Heaney

The SNP-Green government will be forced to explain why they are failing to support Scotland’s tourism sector in a Scottish Conservative led debate in Holyrood tomorrow.

Shadow finance and economy secretary Liz Smith will use her party’s parliamentary time to slam SNP-Green ministers for bringing forward a “slew” of measures that have discouraged a “vital” sector of Scotland’s economy.

Liz Smith is set to criticise policies such as the “flawed” short-term lets licensing scheme, as well as a general “anti-business agenda” from the nationalist coalition that has led to additional costs and red tape for the tourism industry.

The party will also slam the SNP-Green government for failing to address infrastructure weaknesses in Scotland’s rural and island areas, such as the ferry scandal and the lack of dualling on the A9, which has a knock-on effect for tourism in key hot spots across the country.

Liz Smith – who will also highlight that Humza Yousaf dropped a dedicated tourism minister from his team, yet added an independence minister, upon becoming First Minister in March – is urging his government to bring forward an urgent plan to address the concerns of the industry.

Liz Smith MSP, pictured right, said: “The tourism sector is absolutely vital to the future growth and success of Scotland’s economy.

“However, the industry is being failed at every turn right now by a SNP-Green government, who do not even have a dedicated tourism minister in place any more, but find room for a minister for independence.

“Those ministers picking up the burden continue to bring forward a slew of regulations that undermine tourism businesses and saddle them with additional costs and red tape.

“There is an anti-business agenda running through the heart of the SNP-Green coalition. They have failed to pass on 75 per cent rates relief to our leisure, hospitality and retail businesses which has left them at a disadvantage compared with their UK counterparts, and that impacts negatively on our tourism sector.

“Our rural and island communities in particular have been deeply damaged by their failures.

“From the ferry scandal, which has left islands without lifeline services, rowing back on promises to dual key routes, and failing to deliver on their superfast broadband programme, this is a government which is not on the side of our rural areas where many of tourism hot spots are.

“The SNP-Green government has been short-changing the tourist industry for years.

“They must now urgently provide a blueprint for how they intend to repair that damage, and begin by listening to the concerns of the local residents and tourism businesses that they have let down so badly.”

Meanwhile, Scottish Liberal Democrats have today revealed the disparities in arts and event spending across Scotland, urged the Scottish Government to encourage creativity in every corner of the country and called for stark differences in funding to be fixed.

Figures from Creative Scotland and Events Scotland reveal that last year:

  • The City of Edinburgh received almost 28 times as much money per head from Creative Scotland as the least successful local authority, Clackmannanshire (£50.85 v £1.82).  
  • Glasgow alone had more projects funded than 30 local authorities combined, with 510. Clackmannanshire had just three.
  • Event Scotland figures reveal East Lothian council recorded the highest event spending per head with £18.75, while South Ayrshire recorded a spend of £0.  
  • In the Fife local authority which contains Mr Rennie’s constituency, the spend per head was 71p. This is five times lower than in Glasgow and half that of Edinburgh.

Creative Scotland is the public body responsible for funding creative industries in Scotland and distributes funding from the Scottish Government and National Lottery. Event Scotland is responsible for supporting and developing Scotland’s events industry.

Willie Rennie said:  “The differences in spending are stark. Some variation between different parts of the country is to be expected, but if you live outside of Scotland’s biggest cities you will be rightly feeling short-changed.

“Scottish government bodies should be promoting and encouraging creativity in every corner of the country.

“We should not expect the next great Scottish artistic talent to spring up from nothing. Not only that but the creative and events industries are also key parts of our economy and support many jobs.

“Spending by Creative Scotland and Event Scotland should be reviewed to end the big city bias and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to cultivate their talent and opportunities are not being missed.”

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