You may have missed it but a report recently presented to Midlothian Council revealed the value of tourism locally, writes Ian Gardner (Midlothian Tourism Forum).
This report showed that tourism brought in nearly £106 million last year. And it's a growing industry, as the figures showed that income from tourism has increased by 26 per cent since 2009.
Too often, tourism is not taken seriously enough as a significant contributor to an area’s – or to a country’s – economy but this report underlines the huge importance of the industry in Midlothian, sustaining and creating jobs, and supporting businesses large and small. However, there is still room for improvement and through the new Midlothian Tourism Action Plan, which was launched earlier this year, the Midlothian Tourism Forum will be working with Midlothian Council and VisitScotland to encourage more people to visit, enjoy a better experience and return to Midlothian.
I am pleased to say that we have already started making progress. Recently, 41 people met at Melville Castle Hotel to start planning how we can make more of events in the area, by developing new ones and building on existing ones, and a steering group will be formed to lead this work in 2017. Food and drink is an essential part of a tourism experience and another group of businesses met this month to hear about the importance of using Scottish produce in their menus and then plan accordingly. Heritage is a big part of our tourism offering and next year has been designated as the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, giving us a great platform to tell more people about our fantastic heritage across Midlothian. We will also be focussing on the outdoors, cycling, youth and business tourism as well as supporting efforts to make more of our town centres.
Tourism is everyone’s business and I would urge any organisation or business in the area to become a member of the Midlothian Tourism Forum and play their part in delivering this plan. It promises to be a busy year ahead. In the meantime, on behalf of all members, thanks to readers for supporting Midlothian's tourism in 2016 – and best wishes for Christmas and New Year.