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The Latest news from Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce -

Keep up to date with the latest news and stories from across Dumfries & Galloway.

 

Increased Expo-sure for Dumfries & Galloway

The tourism industry in Dumfries & Galloway, from the hotels and accommodation to the world-famous dark skies and wildlife, are set to be promoted to the world at next week’s VisitScotland Expo.

Ten of the region’s top tourism businesses are heading to Scotland’s biggest travel trade event next week to showcase their tourism offering to international tour operators and travel agents from all over the world. The businesses from Dumfries & Galloway include the Gretna Green Famous Blacksmiths Shop andthe Edinburgh Woollen Mill in Langholm.

For the first time this year, six businesses from the region are working together to showcase their products and services within a dedicated ‘Dumfries & Galloway’ area of the exhibition at Glasgow’s SEC (Scottish Event Campus) on 26 and 27 April.

The group, which includes the Cairndale Hotel in Dumfries, the Annandale Distillery, the McMillan Hotel Group, Drumlanrig Castle and Country Estate, Thornhill, Nocturnal Wildlife Tours in Castle Douglas and the Galloway Forest Park, are collaborating together for the first time at the event to promote Dumfries & Galloway as a destination for visitors.

By situating themselves together in the exhibition hall, the group hopes to raise the profile of Dumfries & Galloway as a destination and capitalise on the opportunities to promote the region to new audiences.

The history, heritage and archaeology of Dumfries & Galloway will also take centre stage as part of a themed trip for Canadian tour operators as part of this year’s Expo.

During the four-day familiarisation (fam) trip of the Scottish Lowlands, from 22 to 25 April, the eight delegates will visit some of the region’s most well-known and celebrated visitor attractions and locations, including the awe-inspiring medieval Caerlaverock Castle and Robert Burns House in Dumfries.

Organised by VisitScotland, the tour will also take in the historic and romantic Gretna Green, Threave Castle, Laggan Outdoors, Galloway Forest Park and Crawick Multiverse. During their trip, the tour operators will enjoy hospitality at a number of locations, including the Cairndale Hotel in Dumfries, Cally Palace Hotel and The Globe Inn, Dumfries.

 

VisitScotland Regional Director Doug Wilson said: “I am delighted that these international delegates will get the chance to experience some of the very best attractions in our region on the fam trips.

“It is also very encouraging to have so many businesses from Dumfries & Galloway at this year’s Expo. VisitScotland Expo is the most important date in Scotland’s tourism calendar. It allows us to showcase this must-visit region to UK and international buyers. It also reinforces to the tourism industry in the rest of Scotland that Dumfries & Galloway is a destination of choice for quality, value and memorable experiences delivered by skilled and passionate hosts.”

VisitScotland Expo 2017 will be the 38th staging of Scotland’s biggest business-to-business event for the travel trade. The national tourism organisation’s flagship show will give 276 Scottish tourism businesses – including accommodation providers, visitor attractions and activity providers – from every corner of the country the chance to showcase their products and services to more than 600 tour operators and travel agents from all over the world.

The event is expected to create a net economic impact of £2.5 million for the local economy while, thanks to one-to-one appointments facilitated by VisitScotland, exhibitors are expected to generate an average of £22,000 worth of gross turnover as a result of attending.

 

Full list of Exhibitors from Dumfries & Galloway:

 

  •          Annandale Distillery, Annan
  •          Cairndale Hotel & Leisure Club, Dumfries
  •          Drumlanrig Castle & Country Estate, Thornhill
  •          Galloway Forest Park, Newton Stewart (including Churchill Catering, Newton Stewart, Galloway Lodge at Clatteringshaws)
  •          Gretna Green Famous Blacksmiths Shop
  •          McMillan Hotels, Stranraer
  •          Nocturnal Wildlife Tours,Castle Douglas
  •          Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Langholm

MORE THAN HALF A MILLION SCOTTISH JOBS DEPEND ON TRADE WITH THE UK:

More than half a million Scottish jobs – around one in four – depend on Scotland’s trade with the rest of the UK, new research published today reveals. That is more than four times as many jobs supported by EU trade.

The figures from the Fraser of Allander Institute show:

  • around 530,000 jobs in Scotland (nearly      one in four of all jobs) are supported by demand for Scottish goods and      services from the rest of the UK;
  • more than 175,000 jobs in Scotland      are supported by export demand from the rest of the world; and
  • around 125,000 jobs in Scotland      supported by export demand from the rest of the EU.

Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell said:

“More than half a million Scottish jobs depend on being able to trade freely within the UK.  These figures demonstrate clearly the value of the UK market to Scottish businesses – which is worth four times that of the EU market. As we leave the EU, it is vital we maintain the integrity of the UK market and prevent any new barriers to doing business across the UK.

“We have seen recent worrying figures showing the Scottish economy contracting, compared to the UK economy growing overall.  So, at this time, it is more important than ever that Scotland’s two governments work together for the benefit of people in Scotland.  That is what people in Scotland expect, and to what I am committed.

”The UK Government is working closely with the Scottish Government to help boost the Scottish economy.  That includes our new industrial strategy, UK City Deals and a £1.2 billion funding boost for Scotland.”

Around two thirds of Scottish jobs supported by exports to the rest of the UK are in the services sector (more than 328,000 jobs), and just under one third are in manufacturing and construction (more than 150,000 jobs).

The new research confirms the importance of Scotland’s trade with the rest of the UK, the value of which is worth four times that of the country’s exports to the EU.  Scotland sells goods and services worth £49.8 billion to the rest of the UK, and £12.3 billion to the EU. Today’s figures show that more than four times as many Scottish jobs are supported by UK trade compared to EU trade.

 

SCOTTISH COMPANIES MUST SEE R&D FOCUS IN ELECTION MANIFESTOS

Jumpstart UK – the leading R&D tax credit specialist – has urged political leaders across the UK to ensure “a renewed focus and commitment” to R&D in their party election manifestos, following the announcement of a snap election for 08 June. 

Ian Donaldson, Business Development Manager for Jumpstart in Scotland, commented:

“Political parties across the UK will already be in the throes of producing election manifestos and we are calling upon leaders and policy-makers to ensure that they reflect the critical importance of R&D in shaping the UK economy in the coming years.

“Given the short lead in time to 08 June, we would realistically expect a series of much shorter Brexit-focused manifestos, harking back to policies set out in more substantial equivalents in 2015.  However, we must see a renewed focus and commitment to R&D – we simply cannot have a quick copy and paste job from previous manifestos.

“Just six months ago, the Prime Minister pledged to boost the Government’s investment in R&D by an extra £2bn a year to ensure that ‘post-Brexit Britain is at the cutting edge of science and tech’. Parties must demonstrate to their constituent companies through their manifestos how they will ensure that this becomes a reality in the coming years.

“In order for Scottishcompaniesto flourish in a post-EU world, they must utilise every vehicle they can to strengthen their competiveness and underpin their journey to sustained growth.  Investment in R&D will be crucial to this and, in the run up to the snap election on 08 June, we will be looking to each of the political parties to outline what they will be doing to support and encourage R&D activity across the UK.”

Arkless comments on latest Bank closures

"This announcement by the Bank of Scotland brings the total number of proposed bank branch closures throughout my constituency of Dumfries and Galloway since the beginning of the year, to eight.  

"That’s eight individual communities damaged through losing an important service facility.  Eight teams of experienced bank staff facing redundancy.  Many of these staff members will have dedicated their working lives to the bank and it is vital that everything that can be done to support them is being done.  I will be writing to the bank to object to these closure and suggest they have been premature in closing them. I have also asked what steps they are taking to mitigate the harm these closures will have on their staff, if they do indeed go ahead. 

"Taken separately, each branch closure has a devastating effect on each rural town centre but when you look at this issue as a region wide event the impact becomes even more serious.  

"Dumfries and Galloway is a vast region with an ageing population.  It is simply not reasonable to expect elderly and vulnerable people to travel miles to access banking services.  These closures will see Bank of Scotland customers in Port William being expected to travel over 16 miles to their nearest branch in Newton Stewart, for customers in Dalry it is just as bad as they will now have to travel 15 miles to Castle Douglas.  It is quite simply, unacceptable.

"Banks are telling us that online mobile transactions have increased ten fold whilst branch transactions had fallen by 20%. Whilst that it is a substantial drop, it is not significant enough to close the branch.  Banks should be re-looking at the way the do things to make their branches more viable – they shouldn’t simply be closing them without exploring other options. 

 

"I have written to all three banks and demanded a meeting with them all at the table - the Clydesdale, RBS and The Bank of Scotland talk about ‘legacy’ programs to help lessen the impact of the branch closures.   I propose that instead of each bank doing their own small thing, they put all the legacy money together and work with each other to make a substantive difference to the communities that are losing their branch. These legacies should be meaningful and could be a mix of mobile banks to reach elderly and rural customers - and of course better mobile signals so others can move to online banking. It is ironic that rural branches are closed in areas with poor internet because of a rise in online transactions.

"It’s simply not good enough for the banks to shut up shop and leave their customers to sort out access to online services themselves.  Banks have a duty and a responsibility to the communities they are leaving to make sure that online access is possible."

DECLINE IN SCOTTISH ECONOMY MUST SIGNAL RED ALERT FOR GOVERNMENTS

Scottish Chambers of Commerce have called for urgent government action to restore confidence in the Scottish economy, as GDP figures show that Scotland’s economy is contracting – in stark contrast to the overall UK position. 

Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:

“The news that Scotland’s economy is contracting at a time when the overall UK economy is growing healthily must ring alarm bells for both the Scottish and UK Governments.  While Scotland’s growth has been sluggish since the fall in oil prices in 2015, the evidence now shows that no sector in the Scottish economy is experiencing growth, with production and constructing falling and our service sector flatlining.

“This news must now bring an urgent change in policy from the Scottish Government in particular.  The Scottish Parliament has just introduced a Budget in which medium and large businesses pay a higher rate of business rates than they would in England and where Scottish higher rate taxpayers pay more tax than they would anywhere else in the UK.  The Scottish Government is also planning higher planning fees, a potential new infrastructure levy and the returns from the Apprenticeship Levy are also less direct than for businesses in England.  These additional costs for Scottish businesses are only now being felt, so could result in an even less competitive business environment in Scotland this year.

“It is time for the Scottish Government to abandon this high tax agenda before it is too late, as these policies risk driving investment out of Scotland.  Instead, it must focus its attention on supporting businesses to grow and to create the jobs and wealth our economy needs.  Urgent action is needed to reverse the additional costs that businesses are incurring in Scotland.

“The urgency of the Scottish Government’s enterprise and skills review and the agenda for change that this signals in terms of government policy is also now paramount, enabling a reinvigoration of how Scotland’s public and private sectors can work together in mutual support.

“These may be one quarter’s figures, but they are illustrative of a trend which has existed throughout 2015 and 2016.  Scotland’s economy is in red alert and must be the number one priority for both the Scottish and UK Governments.”