§ Mr. Browne
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if the Prior Options study of the Scottish Tourist Board which he announced on 30 July 1997 has been completed; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Dewar
The prior options study undertaken as the first stage of the 5 yearly policy and financial management review of the Scottish Tourist Board has now been completed.
I have accepted the conclusions and recommendations of the study. The Scottish Tourist Board will therefore continue as the national agency responsible for encouraging the development of the Scottish tourist industry.
The decision that the Board should remain in being as a non-departmental public body does not, however, denote absence of change. The study also concluded that, while the Board is effective in what it does, there remains scope for improving the type of support it provides and the way in which that support is delivered. A number of specific recommendations have been made which will secure the necessary improvements. Specifically, the changes proposed will help deliver a better quality of service to the Scottish tourist industry by ensuring:a more strategic role for the Board covering its marketing, visitor servicing and developments functions;better and more effective relations between the Board and its private and public sector partners;continued efforts to raise standards within the industry; andmore emphasis on the better spread of tourism throughout Scotland and throughout the year.
I firmly believe that the review and its outcome demonstrate a necessary ongoing commitment by this Government not only to the development of Scottish tourism but also to the more efficient and effective delivery of the support provided by my Department through the Scottish Tourist Board.
I am grateful to those organisations and individuals who responded to the invitation to comment which I issued at the start of this review. The second stage of the review, which will examine systems of financial management and control within the Board, will get underway shortly.19W
Copies of the report of the prior options study will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses and may be obtained from The Scottish Office Education and Industry Department, Area 3-F25, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh EH6 6QQ.