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Milestone on Moray tourism BID journey

By Lorna Thompson

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A BUSINESS campaign to transform Moray's tourism industry reached a milestone today as its funding plan was submitted for Scottish Government approval.

The campaign aims to raise the region's profile to world-class tourism destination status through a Tourism Business Improvement District, or TBID, scheme.

The TBID would take tourism funding out of the public sector and place the responsibility in the hands of the businesses who stand to benefit.

Local tourism businesses would be asked to pay an annual levy and the scheme would be run by a board of directors elected from the levy payers. The board would manage funds and have access to other funding streams.

Campaigners say the TBID would more than double the amount of funding available to invest in the marketing of Moray Speyside – to around a million pounds over a five-year period.

On approval from government, tourism businesses will be asked to vote on the plan through a postal ballot, which will run for six weeks from December into January 2020.

So far more than 100 businesses have got behind the campaign.

Operations manager for Moray Speyside Tourism (MST) Laurie Piper said it was "crucial" that local businesses understand the importance of the vote.

Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID) plans for Moray Speyside have gone to the Scottish Government for sign-off.
Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID) plans for Moray Speyside have gone to the Scottish Government for sign-off.

Mr Piper added: "We are facing strong competition from other parts of Scotland and the UK who are heavily promoting themselves to tourists – and funding for MST is coming to an end. Undoubtedly, local tourist-based businesses will suffer unless we establish a new way of driving growth in the industry.

"A TBID is the perfect alternative as it allows local businesses to control a collaborative funding pot, choosing where and how to invest their money. I believe this new, ambitious approach to business will be beneficial, not just financially but in securing a community spirit within local businesses and our region."

Steve Oliver, who represents a number of small tourism businesses in the community group Dufftown 2000, said: "I have been involved in tourism in Moray since 2002, as a business owner and then the director of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival.

"It is absolutely vital that we have a destination marketing organisation in Moray, not only to showcase our tourism offering but also to advocate on behalf of the tourism businesses on the issues of direct importance. While Dufftown 2000 would not have to pay the levy, I will be recommending to the board that we voluntarily pay it next year because I wholeheartedly support a TBID."

Penny Laing, owner of Logie Steading near Forres, said: "It is vital that the Moray Speyside TBID is voted in. We need an organisation to continue to build on the work done over the last five years by Laurie and his small but very engaged Moray Speyside team.

"As a Scottish tourist destination, Moray Speyside is becoming known in its own right. Potential visitors are being made aware of all the area has to offer. This translates into higher visitor numbers, longer stays and stronger local businesses."

Visit www.morayspeysidetbid.com for more information.

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