The UK’s biggest privately-owned coach tour operator will return to the region after 18 years – thanks to a Business Gateway initiative.
The rolling yearly contract with David Urquhart Travel will see two coachloads of visitors tour the region each week from mid-July from their base, the refurbished George and Abbotsford Hotel in Melrose.
The deal, the first major success of the Discover Scottish Borders initiative, will inject an estimated £200,000 a year into the local economy.
Spearheaded by Phil McCreadie, tourism business adviser at Business Gateway, and funded with European cash, the initiative’s sole aim is to boost the local economy by attracting leading coach tour and travel group operators.
Mr McCreadie said: “By visiting travel trade exhibitions like the VisitScotland Expo and Best of Britain and Ireland, where the initial seed for this deal was sown, and by providing coach and group travel operators with all the information they need in a glossy brochure, the project has managed to bring a leading tour operator to the area. It will now hopefully encourage others to follow suit, as well as highlight to local attractions that extending their opening hours during the winter months will help them benefit from the upturn in visitor figures.”
Andria Gardner, who took over the George and Abbotsford Hotel in December, said: “This deal gives the George and Abbotsford a new lease of life – without it we would not be able to carry on. We’ve invested every pound we have into the hotel to get it back on its feet.”
She added: “Discover Scottish Borders has helped safeguard the future of our hotel and on the back of the Urquhart deal, we’ve already had enquiries from other coach operators, which is fantastic, not just for the hotel but for Melrose and the Borders as a whole.”
Nesta Gilliland, group managing director of David Urquhart Travel, said: “It is only through the Discover Scottish Borders project and Phil’s hard work in helping us source suitable accommodation and the increased flexibility of the visitor attractions that we’ve decided to return.”