SYHA closures are short-sighted blow for Borders tourism

This year should have seen the Scottish Youth Hostel Association organising events to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the opening of its very first facility in Scotland, at Broadmeadows in the Yarrow Valley.

Instead it is planning to shut its doors permanently, along with the association’s only other two local hostels, thus ending a link stretching back before the Second World War.

Over the intervening decades, thousands of travellers from all over the world have had their first experience of the Borders made possible by the cheap accommodation offered by hostelling.

However, along with two other Scottish hostels, the three Borders properties – the others two are in Melrose and Kirk Yetholm – are being closed due to apparent low usage and the fact that they need too much money spent on renovations.

Yet there is clearly a market for hostel accommodation in Scotland, given that the SYHA has recently spent several million pounds refurbishing its hostels at Fort William and Oban.

If low occupany rates are the problem in the Borders, the question has to be asked whether this region is being marketed properly to those who use hostels. The challenge has always been persuading travellers coming to Scotland to stop off in the Borders. We’re competing against the global perception of the Highlands as being Scotland.

But we’re not giving ourselves a fighting chance if we cut ourselves off from a whole sector of the visitor market by not providing a full range of accommodation types – and that includes youth hostels.