Scotland

New council funding blows for VisitScotland

Clockwise from top left; Glasgow's Armadillo, Melrose Abbey, Abbotsford and Edinburgh Castle
Image caption VisitScotland said it was aware a number of councils were cutting or freezing their funding to the agency

VisitScotland has suffered a fresh series of funding blows following budget cuts by Scottish councils.

Glasgow City Council and Scottish Borders Council are among several authorities who are to cut funding to the agency.

Glasgow alone is to pull £400,000 in funding to the tourism quango and focus on its own city marketing bureau.

Last year, the Scottish government reduced VisitScotland's funding by 6.3% to £41m.

Scottish councils contribute about £4m a year to the national tourism organisation, with the rest of its funding coming from commercial partners.

The move by Glasgow follows a similar step two years ago by Edinburgh City Council when it pulled its funding of more than £500,000 to VisitScotland. City councillors claimed at the time that Scotland's capital was not getting good value for money.

Glasgow City Council said on Friday its decision to end funding was on cost grounds.

A spokeswoman said: "The reason we took this funding decision was that we have our own marketing bureau which does a good job.

"We have been reducing our funding to VisitScotland over the past couple of years."

VisitScotland said it was aware a number of councils were cutting or freezing their funding to the agency but said many of the funding decisions were unconfirmed and no jobs were at risk.

It also stressed it would continue to work closely with local authorities and "market every area of Scotland".

Following Glasgow's decision to cut its funding, a spokeswoman for VisitScotland said: "As the lead agency for leisure tourism in Glasgow, we will continue to work closely with tourism businesses, the Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, other tourism partners and the council to support ongoing promotion to bring visitors to the area.

"We would expect that as the funding situation improves we will work closely on a project basis as good joint opportunities arise."

She added: "We are determined to continue the good work being carried out in Glasgow and our focus will be on helping the tourism industry to market itself to key local, national and international audiences to ensure continuing growth."

'Disappointing'

In a separate development this week, VisitScotland reacted with disappointment to news that VisitBritain is to shed nearly 70 jobs as part of a global cost-cutting strategy.

Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland's chief executive, said any cut in tourism spend was "obviously disappointing".

He continued: "Fortunately, the offices that VisitBritain is continuing to operate are within our key emerging markets, including China, Russia and India.

"Given that Scotland has its own distinct brand, this country already has a strong presence in key overseas markets, such as North America and mainland Europe.

"We will also be working with VisitBritain to make sure that the option of travelling to Scotland forms an integral part of its London Olympics campaign."

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