South Scotland

Tweed Valley tourism goal gains momentum

River Tweed Image copyright Tweed Valley Tourist Consortium
Image caption Businesses in the area could pay a levy which would be spent to help attract visitors

A bid to boost the Scottish Borders economy by increasing visitor numbers has taken a step forward.

Initial funding from the Scottish government has been secured to develop a tourism based Business Improvement District (BID) in the Tweed Valley.

It could see local companies pay a levy to go towards improvements benefitting both the community and the economy.

Scottish Borders Council has also indicated it will provide support for the project's development phase.

"This initial funding means that we can now really get started on the project," said Catherine Maxwell Stuart, of Traquair House, who chairs the Tweed Valley Tourism BID.

Image copyright Tweed Valley Tourist Consortium
Image caption Cycling and mountain biking have boosted tourism in the area in recent years

"When we applied for funding in the summer, we saw excellent support from local tourism businesses, all of whom recognise this as a means of securing a consistent level of funding to resource a targeted and effective tourism business plan for the Tweed Valley."

The area has seen significant tourism growth in the past 15 years with mountain biking and leisure cycling playing a key part.

Neil Dalgleish, vice chairman of the BID, said: "It's an exciting prospect - we have an opportunity to do something bold, innovative and unique here, which could dramatically transform the tourism offer and industry in the Tweed Valley.

"This project could help take the Tweed Valley to a totally new level of visibility and success."

Image copyright Tweed Valley Tourist Consortium
Image caption The people behind the BID said the area had "world class assets" to work with

If approved, a BID would enable the local authority to collect a compulsory levy which the businesses within the proposed BID area must vote in favour of before it can be established.

The income raised from the levy can then be matched against other public sector funds to allow for additional investment.

A project manager is expected to begin work on the project next year with a final vote on the proposed BID in 2019.

Ms Maxwell Stuart said: "The Tweed Valley has a strong brand, but in order to sustain and grow tourism here we need further investment in marketing the area, as well as improving transport links and tourism infrastructure.

"We have some world class assets to work with, and standing still is not an option.

"There's huge potential if we combine our ideas and resources and work together for mutual success."

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