£300,000 funding boost for businesses in the Borders and Midlothian

An action group set up to develop the tourism industry in Midlothian and the Scottish Borders has secured a £300,000 funding boost to continue benefitting businesses in both areas.

Established in January 2017, the Midlothian and Borders Tourism Action Group (MBTAG) has been awarded £150,000 of Borders Railway Blueprint money and £150,000 from Tyne & Esk LEADER.

The money will be used to implement Phase II of its project to capitalise on the benefits of the Borders Railway along the corridor and for tourism businesses region-wide.

MBTAG project manager Jemma Reid said: “The funding for Phase II is fantastic news and will allow us to build on the success of the first two years. There’s a lot still to be achieved.

“The 2017 International Passenger Survey identifies that Midlothian and the Borders achieve the lowest number of international tourists of any of Scotland’s regions. In comparison, Edinburgh has the greatest number. The commercial opportunity is, therefore, to attract between more domestic and international visitors to the region encouraging them to visit by rail and encourage them to spend longer and spend more time in the area.”

The new LEADER funding will build and deliver traditional and digital destination marketing activities for a 21-month period for the Midlothian and Scottish Borders regions.

The Blueprint money will help MBTAG do more to increase the number of both domestic and international visitors’ overnight stays in Midlothian and the Borders by working with the travel trade and supporting businesses to help them understand international and develop products and experiences which would be of appeal.

Successes in MBTAG’s first phase of work include:

  • Industry engagement and innovation events providing information to inspire improved businesses practices and increased productivity.
  • A travel Trade Development Programme (TTDP) providing businesses with the skills to engage better with the travel trade market. Supported by an inbound familiarization trip of tour operators.
  • The launch of a new Business to Business (B2B) website. A resource of information, data and digital content to encourage product development and support evidenced-based decision making.
  • The development of a new tourism app due to launch early 2019 which will highlight walking, cycling and themed driving routes with itineraries to help encourage visitors to visit and spend more time in the region.

The initial two-year project was funded with £150,000 from the Borders Railway Blueprint Group, and a further £200,000 from Scottish Enterprise’s Tourism Destination Development Fund to implement the plan.