New tourism boss urges unity of purpose to exploit the beautiful Borders

CATHERINE Maxwell Stuart, lady laird of Traquair, has been appointed chair of the Scottish Borders Tourism Partnership (SBTB).

She will take over from Councillor Ron Smith who has recently been appointed Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for social work (children’s services). Barbara Elborn of the Newcastleton Business Partnership will take over as vice-chair.

Speaking after Thursday’s SBTB meeting at which the appointments were made, Ms Maxwell Stuart told us: “I am very honoured to be taking over at a time when it is more important than ever that everyone involved in tourism in the Borders works together.

“The economic downturn has led to more people holidaying at home: a trend set to continue and the Borders should be able to take advantage of this as one of the best destinations in Scotland offering not only beautiful countryside, but also an exceptional range of activities and attractions for all ages.”

Ms Maxwell Stuart, while running the family business at Traquair House, has been involved with the partnership since it inception and has been actively involved in many tourism initiatives.

Last week’s meeting heard that the Southern Uplands Partnership was seeking to extend its initiative of promoting nature-based tourism into the Borders from Dumfries and Galloway. Businesses interested in working with the SUP and finding out more about how they can benefit from exploiting the wildlife, flora and fauna that abounds in our region should attend a meeting on August 18. For details contact Pip Tabor (01750 725154).

There was warm approbation from the meeting at the news that the combined South of Scotland tourism bid from Visit Scotland, Dumfries & Galloway Council, Scottish Borders Council for LEADER funding to extend marketing activity outwith the key season had been successful. As a result, a grant of £1.2million has been awarded, increasing the overall marketing budget by 40 per cent to more than £3million for the next three years.

Members also heard that Scottish Enterprise had announced a new funding round for the Tourism Initiative Fund (TIF) which provides matched funding of up to £30,000 and professional one-to-one advice to help develop and commercialise innovative tourism ideas.

Finally, the meeting was told that Dalkeith House in Newcastleton had become the only five-star rated self-catering property that sleeps 10 in the Borders. VisitScotland has also uprated the Buccleuch Arms Hotel in St Boswells to four stars after recent investment in the business.