ASVA CEO & Board Members meet Tourism Minister to discuss Opportunities & Challenges facing the Attractions Sector in Scotland

Last week (21st July), ASVA’s CEO and Members of the ASVA Board, were pleased to have the opportunity to meet with the Minister for Small Business, Innovation, Tourism & Trade, Richard Lochhead MSP, to discuss the current opportunities and challenges facing the Scottish attractions sector. The meeting took place in the inspiring setting of the Billiard Room in Mackintosh at the Willow (many thanks to ASVA Director Pauline Young for allowing us to use her venue) and, whilst the meeting was scheduled to last one hour only, we were delighted that the Minister actually gave us more than three hours of his time to fully discuss the various issues raised. As well as sharing the latest visitor information and some key highlights from ASVA’s recently conducted benchmarking survey of the sector, there were detailed discussions on a wide range of issues including: 

  • Our sector’s commitment to the fair work agenda and how we are trying to combat the current recruitment crisis 
  • Current challenges with domestic visitation & spend over the summer and the implications this could have for the sector in winter
  • The impact of rising costs, and most specifically energy bills, on our sector 
  • Innovation within the sector and our ongoing commitment to invest (where possible) in this arena 
  • The improvements required in tourism infrastructure in Scotland 
  • The Transient Visitor Levy (TVL) Scotland Bill and the important role the Scottish Government must play in ensuring that this funding mechanism is used by local authorities to invest in tourism.  

On that last point, all attendees at the meeting were at pains to point out to the Minister that, when this draft Bill is passed into law by the Scottish Parliament, it is essential that the monies raised by local authorities are ringfenced for improving tourism and tourism related infrastructure. Mr Lochhead took this on board, but was keen to emphasise that if we want to see this happen as a sector, we must all collectively respond to the current Call for Evidence on the proposed Bill, which has been put forward by the Local Government, Housing & Planning Committee in the Scottish Parliament. ASVA will, of course, be submitting our own response to this consultation, but we would urge all of our members to do similarly, as volume of responses will undoubtedly carry influence.  

We would urge all members, when responding, to emphasise the importance of local authorities being required to ringfence monies raised from this levy to be spent on local tourism infrastructure and marketing. The consultation has 13 main questions to answer but respondents are not required to answer every question and can focus on the questions most relevant to them.. Our colleagues at the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) are developing a visual guide with key considerations and suggested responses to the questions in the consultation. ASVA will share this guide with our members when it is published in early August.

  You can respond to the consultation by clicking here

From left to right: Pete Rubie, Deirdre Robertson, Gordon Morrison, Richard Lochhead MSP, Dr Victoria Hollows, Erin Flett, Pauline Young