Emma bidding to get Tweed Valley tourism project in gear

Tweed Valley business improvement district project co-ordinator Emma Guy.
Tweed Valley business improvement district project co-ordinator Emma Guy.

She might be a former champion downhill cyclist, but Emma Guy is hoping the only way is up for her latest project.

Emma is saddling up to lead a business improvement district (BID) initiative aiming to make the Tweed Valley a world-class destination for cycling and outdoor activities.

The 47-year-old, formerly co-owner of the Hub in the Forest Cafe at Glentress Forest from 2000 to 2010, has been appointed as project co-ordinator for the next year and a half initially.

“We had an incredibly strong list of candidates for the position, each with a good range of skills, but we felt that Emma was the ideal person to enthuse and inspire tourism businesses to explore the benefits of the BID,” said Catherine Maxwell Stuart, chairperson of the BID steering committee and also laird of Traquair House at Innerleithen.

Emma will now consult businesses to see how they envisage the valley developing as a tourism destination in the years ahead and create a business plan for the BID.

Once that business plan is finalised, the BID proposal will be put to a vote.

That ballot is expected to be held in autumn 2019, and if approved, the initiative will enable Scottish Borders Council to collect a compulsory levy from all the businesses involved, with the resulting funds to be invested in delivering the agreed plan.

“I’m really excited to be given this opportunity,” said Emma, of Walkerburn.

“As all those who know me are aware, I’m deeply passionate about the Tweed Valley and its potential to become a genuinely world-class activity destination.

“Cycling and mountain biking are certainly the catalysts that will bring more visitors here in the future.

“I strongly believe that a tourism BID is the best way to take what’s already on offer in the Tweed Valley to the next level for the benefit of tourism businesses and visitors alike. I can’t wait to get started.

“This crucial first phase of the project is very much about listening to tourism businesses to understand where we are today and what their ambitions are for the future development of the Tweed Valley as a tourism destination.

“Only once we’ve spoken with as many businesses as possible will we begin to formulate our business plan.”

Tweed Valley-based tourism businesses are invited to attend the official launch of the BID at the Eastgate Theatre, Peebles, at 11am on Wednesday, April 25.

That event will include a presentation by Graeme Ambrose, chief executive of Visit Inverness Loch Ness, Scotland’s first tourism BID, and will be followed by the Tweed Valley Tourist Consortium’s annual meeting for 2018.

The consortium is among the backers of the BID project.

If approved, the Tweed Valley BID would be only the second of its kind in Scotland, following Visit Inverness Loch Ness in 2014, but one of almost 140 in the UK, two, or possibly three by then, of them in the Borders.

A previous plan to establish a town centre BID in Peebles was rejected in 2011, but a similar project is being proposed in Galashiels and another ha been approved in Selkirk.

For details, visit www.bids-scotland.com