The Scottish Tourism Alliance would like to congratulate Fiona Hyslop on the appointment to the Cabinet as Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs.
We have enjoyed hugely constructive dialogue with Fergus Ewing in his role as Tourism Minister over the last few years and seen evidence of a real commitment from the Scottish Government to actively enable some of the key drivers for growth for the industry. We now look forward to establishing and enjoying a similarly productive relationship with Ms Hyslop who I believe will bring a solid knowledge of the sector to the position with her background and experience in events and culture in Scotland. These two areas are already embedded in the heart of the national tourism strategy, Tourism Scotland (TS2020).
The Scottish Government recently acknowledged that tourism is “the most important” industry in Scotland and we are delighted to see further endorsement of that with tourism now being a direct responsibility of a Cabinet Secretary, and in the title of the post. We hope that this change is also a further demonstration by government to committing to invest in the sector, recognising its importance as the main economic driver in Scotland, one which already delivers £12b to the economy.
We’re delighted too that Fergus Ewing in his newly created role of Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity, will be responsible for driving forward two of the four key priorities identified as game changers in the recent TS2020 Mid Term Review, these being air route development and better connectivity both globally and digitally. His responsibility for the food and drink portfolio assures continued close relations with food and drink business in the tourism sector.
With c210,000 already employed in the tourism sector, one which is acknowledged for having huge potential for growth and job creation, addressing the skills gap still remains one of the key issues for the tourism industry. We have no doubt John Swinney will seek to do so in his role as Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills and look forward to having continued close working relationship with him too.
We will look forward to early engagement with Ms Hyslop and her team, continued dialogue with Mr Ewing over the coming weeks and months ahead and the opportunity to build on the already strong support from Scottish Government to drive the Tourism Strategy forward, enabling Scottish tourism to be as competitive as it should be on the global stage.