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Plans for Moray Tourism BID move forward

By Staff Reporter

BUSINESSES across Moray/Speyside are to be balloted on the establishment of a Tourism Business Improvement District (BID).

Moray Council's economic development and infrastructure services committee this morning agreed to back a poll of around 420 firms working in the sector after a request from Moray Speyside Tourism (MST).

Established in 2014, the destination marketing organisation was supported with a funding package from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (£355,000) and the council (£105,000).

That is coming to an end and, with future funding unclear and in a move to become self-sustaining, MST is leading the development of a Tourism BID.

A steering group, including 14 representatives from the sector, has been established to drive the project forward.

A report to committee stated: "The creation of a Tourism BID will provide a sustainable model which would focus on delivering key strategic tourism development projects and services for Moray.

"If supported, it is democratic, time bound, accountable and provides a clear mandate for actions.

"If the ballot is successful, the BID’s identified key priorities so far include marketing the visitor offer, lobbying on behalf of the region, extending the visitor season, improved visitor signage, events and festivals over the next five years."

Members heard that in 2017, tourism generated £129.8 million for the Moray economy – the equivalent of £30,000 extra per day compared to the previous year.

Committee chairman Graham Leadbitter (Elgin City South) said: "This doesn’t commit the council to any financial commitment at the moment, it is simply giving them permission and officer support to run the ballot."

A further report detailing the priority projects, costs and a business plan will now be worked up and is expected back before the council in June.

It is envisaged voting would then take place in the summer with results announced at the end of July.

Cllr John Cowe (Heldon and Laich) welcomed the idea, stating: "Six or seven years ago, tourism to Moray was worth £94 million. It is now worth £130 million. It is now, at this time, £10 million more a year than what Lossiemouth airbase will be worth to the local economy in 2020, so it is going in the right direction and doing extremely well.

"Laurie Piper, of MST, and his team are working extremely hard on this and I wish them success."

While BIDS are generally thought to be based on a geographical area, such as the Elgin BID, they can also be established on a thematic basis.

The committee heard: "BIDs are developed and managed by the business sector with projects being partly funded through a compulsory levy, which can be calculated on the non domestic rates valuation. All tenants and, if applicable, property owners, who will be asked to pay this contribution will be invited to vote on whether a BID proposal will go ahead or not."

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