Businesses urged to make most of railway

Lord Thurso, Chair of VisitScotland speaking at the VisitScotland Borders Conference.
Lord Thurso, Chair of VisitScotland speaking at the VisitScotland Borders Conference.
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More than 80 Borders businesses were represented at this year’s VisitScotland conference for the region, held in Galashiels.

The aim of the event, at the town’s interchange was to encourage firms to continue to capitalise on the opportunities created by the Borders Railway.

The opening of the £350m line from Edinburgh to Tweedbank has boosted visitor numbers for businesses in the Borders, Midlothian and the capital, and tourism chiefs want to see that continue.

The event was opened by VisitScotland chairman John Sinclair, the third Viscount Thurso, and he urged delegates to work together to make the most of the “fantastic tourism asset” that is the new railway.

The former Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross MP said: “Our aim at VisitScotland is to see the visitor economy grow, but to make sure that this growth is spread across all regions of Scotland.

“The Borders Railway has had a massive impact on the local economy and has encouraged people to come and visit this part of the country.

“The railway links the Borders to the capital city, and for visitors to Edinburgh, the railway is the perfect way to experience the beauty of the region.

“The opening of the 30-mile route between Edinburgh and Tweedbank has provided a huge boost for the local area and Scottish tourism as a whole, increasing visitor numbers, creating jobs and sustaining communities.

“This event has brought local businesses together to ensure that we work together to make the most of the continuing opportunities presented by the Borders Railway.”

Delegates also heard from Tweeddale East councillor Stuart Bell, Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for economic development, and John Henderson, owner of the Born in the Borders brewery at Lanton, near Ancrum.

Mr Bell said: “The council is committed to maximising the economic benefit of the Borders Railway across the region, and bringing together businesses for this type of event is a fantastic way to hear about the latest developments and hear what others have done to take advantage of the visitors using the railway and network.”

VisitScotland Regional Director, Doug Wilson, added: “We were delighted to welcome so many representatives from tourism and local businesses to our conference this year.

“We are now one year on from the opening of the Borders Railway, and we want to support those working in the tourism sector to continue to capitalise on the important opportunities that exist in the Scottish Borders today.”