Audit shows how Borders Railway can boost tourism businesses

Training has started for Borders Railway trainee drivers this week. This train is coming through Shawfair station from Newcraighall towards Borders.
Training has started for Borders Railway trainee drivers this week. This train is coming through Shawfair station from Newcraighall towards Borders.

A tourism audit commissioned by Midlothian Council and Scottish Borders Council (SBC) has highlighted almost 30 tourism business development opportunities connected to the opening of the Borders Railway.

The audit of tourism products and services identified over 1,600 different facilities of visitor interest across the two areas that can be easily and quickly accessed through the Borders Railway.

It also identified a number of gaps in the provision of facilities and services that will need to be addressed to maximise the positive impact of the new railway.

Key amongst these are visitor orientation and welcome facilities and integrated onward travel services from railway stations to ensure the spread of visitors.

Councillor Stuart Bell, SBC’s executive member for economic development, said: “The audit clearly outlines the potential to grow tourism, taking advantage of the opening of the Borders Railway.

“This is the ‘warts and all’ view of the tourism industry in the area that we knew we needed. It is important that the problems are addressed, and in fact many can actually be viewed as further opportunities to maximise the economic impact of the railway.”

A survey of local businesses, which was undertaken as part of the audit, found that over 80 per cent of those who responded believe the Borders Railway will benefit tourism in Midlothian and the Borders.

But the same survey highlighted that a majority are not currently planning any new activities or services to cater for visitors arriving by rail.

The tourism destination audit was delivered as part of the Borders Railway Blueprint that sets out an ambition to realise the economic benefits of the Borders Railway.