THE Group proposing a new approach to financing tourism initiatives for the Tweed Valley region have revealed a five-year business plan outlining their hopes for developing the area into a world-class activity destination.

Tweed Valley Tourism BID Steering Group hopes to create a Business Improvement District (BID), whereby money to invest in the tourism industry is generated by applying levies to local businesses, who themselves are central to the decision-making process.

The BID concept originated in Canada in the 1970s, although only one other tourism-oriented BID operates in Scotland – Visit Inverness Loch Ness, set up in 2014.

The draft business plan provides further detail on how a Tourism BID will benefit local businesses, what priority investments will be made, and which businesses will be involved.

Crucially, it also details the banded scale of levy fees that have been determined as a means of ensuring that all tourism businesses, including those owning multiple properties, participate in and contribute to the Tourism BID.

The banded levy structure is seen as the most equitable way of funding additional projects that businesses in the area have said they would like to see developed, but which the public sector is not required to provide.

With around 120 participating tourism businesses, it is expected that the levy fees will generate an income of around £80,000 a year, or £400,000 over the five-year period.

Catherine Maxwell Stuart of Traquair House, and Chair of the Tweed Valley Tourism BID, said: “As a business owner in the Tweed Valley for more than 30 years, I have witnessed the many fluctuations of tourism in this area.

“What has been particularly clear is that the Tweed Valley has benefitted significantly from the development of mountain biking, cycling and other outdoor activities which, together, have increased visitor numbers and spawned many new tourism businesses.

“A Tourism BID will enable local businesses to shape the future of tourism in the area and be at the heart of the decision-making process.

“With local input and support, the Tourism BID will fund and deliver projects that will help businesses grow and secure a strong, sustainable tourism industry for years to come.”

Graeme Ambrose, CEO of Visit Inverness Loch Ness, is delighted with the impact the BID has had in his area. He said: “The Tourism BID has been hugely positive for the area.

“Led by tourism businesses for tourism businesses, it is a financially sustainable model which, in partnership with the public sector, has enabled real and lasting change in the local tourism industry which will ensure that Inverness and Loch Ness are able to compete effectively with other destinations both nationally and internationally.”

The steering group have invited local tourism businesses to read through the draft business plan and submit feedback.

Local feedback will inform a final, and far more detailed, business plan that will be presented to businesses in June ahead of a planned Tourism BID ballot scheduled for the Autumn.

The draft business plan is available for review at