South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed a poll which shows that tourists in the rest of the UK and the Republic of Ireland would not be deterred from visiting Scotland after a Yes vote – and that tourism would actually receive a boost after independence.
A poll carried out by Dunira Strategy surveyed 1834 adults across the British Isles and found that 85% of respondents said “it would make no difference”. Of the 15% who said it would make a difference, a large proportion (43%) said that independence would make them “want to visit even more”.
Tourism in Scotland would also receive a further boost after a Yes vote through the Scottish Government’s plans to half the level of Air Passenger Duty (APD) in the first parliament – as backed by key figures in the airline industry.
The UK currently has one of the highest levels of APD in the world – estimated to cost Scotland more than £200m in lost tourism spend. When the public finances allow, the Scottish Government would abolish APD entirely.
Commenting, Ms McAlpine – who is also a substitute member of the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee – said:
“This news is especially welcome in the south of Scotland, where – acording to the most recent Scottish Tourism Economic Activity Monitor Report – almost 6’000 jobs are supported by direct tourist expenditure, and a further 1’358 by indirect revenue from tourism.
“In Dumfries and Galloway it is estimated that tourism currently accounts for upwards of 11 per cent of employment – placing it in the top three employment sectors.
The SNP MSP added:
“It is clear from this latest poll that Independence will be the best way to achieve substantial growth in a sector which is so integral to the economy of the south of Scotland.
“After independence, the Scottish Government will cut Air Passenger Duty by half to further support our tourism industry, and will eventually abolish it – and Scotland’s airports support transferring control of APD from Westminster to Scotland.
“Scotland’s international image will only be enhanced after a Yes vote – and combined with a cut in APD will see our tourism industry continue to go from strength to strength.”
Michael O’Leary, head of European airline Ryanair told BBC Radio Scotland:
“There’s no doubt that most airlines would support the position of the Scottish Government in relation to the abolition of the APD (air passenger duty), which does untold damage to Scottish tourism.” He added that the drop in APD will mean: “business numbers to Scotland double over a 5-10 year period” benefiting “job creation in tourism”.
Willie Walsh, the Chief Executive Officer of IAG – the parent group of British Airways said: “If anything it might be marginally positive because, I suspect, the Scottish Government will abolish air passenger duty because they recognise the huge impact that tax has on their economy.