HC Deb 22 October 1986 vol 102 cc1146-7
1. Mr. Pollock

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has any plans to review the structure of area tourist boards and their relationship to other public bodies with similar promotional responsibilities; and if he will make a statement.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Ian Lang)

My right hon. and learned Friend does not have any plans to undertake such a review. We consider that area tourist boards remain the most suitable mechanism for involving the private sector and local authorities in local tourism.

Mr. Pollock

I welcome my hon. Friend back to Scotland and wish him well in his new duties.

Does my hon. Friend agree that tourism is one of the most important aspects of the Scottish rural economy and that, for it to be fully effective, there must be the fullest possible co-operation between local authorities, Government agencies and the trade? Does he further agree that the welcome extension of the Highlands and Islands Development Board area to embrace parts of my constituency provides an opportunity for a reappraisal by all concerned of how best to achieve effective promotional and marketing opportunities?

Mr. Lang

I thank my hon. Friend for his kind remarks and agree with him about the importance of tourism in the Scottish economy. I also agree with him about the importance of collaboration and co-operation between the various bodies at national and area level. I am sure that my hon. Friend will find that the HIDB, the Scottish Development Agency and the Scottish Tourist Board are ready to co-operate locally to facilitate the advance of tourism in the Moray area.

Mr. Buchan

Will the Minister urgently ask his right hon. and learned Friend to consider the massive job and tourist implications of yesterday's announcement that Glasgow is to be the cultural capital of Europe? For that reason, will he persuade the Minister for the Arts to go back on the statement that there will be no Government funding? We require major Government funding if the proposal is to do a job for the economy and the culture of Scotland and of Britain.

Mr. Lang

I share the hon. Gentleman's pleasure at Glasgow's success in winning the contest. Progress in Glasgow during the past few years has been quite remarkable and I am sure that it will fulfil the role satisfactorily. I feel sure that the availability of funding from the private sector and from local authorities will be adequate to maintain the momentum that they are now developing.

Sir Hector Monro

Does my hon. Friend agree that this is a likely area for the provision of new jobs in the future? To assist the industry, will he maintain the high Government expenditure on roads, particularly on the A75, where there have been unfortunate accidents lately, and do what he can to help the industry over the rating of caravans and caravan sites?

Mr. Lang

I, too, attach importance to the A75. Our record on increasing expenditure on roads is remarkable, as I am sure my hon. Friend will agree. That is reflected in the high quality of roads in Scotland available to the tourist industry and others.

Mr. Kirkwood

I wholeheartedly agree with the Minister's statement that the area tourist boards play an important and valuable role in the promotion of tourism in Scotland. If that is the case, will he confirm that the Scottish Office block grant to the Scottish Tourist Board for onward transmission to local tourist boards has not kept pace with inflation during the past three years? Many area tourist boards depend heavily on that subvention to promote their activities.

Mr. Lang

The Scottish Tourist Board certainly has an important role to play, but an important role must also be played locally. The enthusiasm, local enterprise and initiative in area tourist boards are the factors that can generate the most effective tourism for each area in Scotland.

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