THE Tweed Valley Tourism BID has been given the go-ahead after a significant majority of participating businesses voted to establish it in a ballot conducted by Scottish Borders Council.

Although there are nearly 40 improvement districts operating throughout towns and city centres around Scotland, this is the second tourism-specific improvement district, following in the footsteps of Visit Inverness Loch Ness in the Highlands.

Improvement districts provide a mechanism for local businesses to collaborate with public and private sector partners to improve local economies and communities.

As previously reported, the Tweed Valley Tourism BID has been in development for the past 18 months, and announced their five-year business plan in October following consultations with participating businesses within the tourism industry.

In its plans, the Tourism BID offered a range of new trails tailored to the growing interest in the Borders from walkers, runners and horseriders, as well as plans to expand the potential of the Tweed as a canoe trail.

After voting, the ballot results showed that overwhelmingly, more than 80 per cent of the voting businesses, from a 68.4 per cent turnout, supported the Tourism BID. T

his will allow a levy to be taken from participating businesses over a five-year period to fund investments to improve the area’s tourism product. It is hoped that the £350,000 private investment will be match-funded by the public sector.

“This is a result that provides a strong mandate to take forward our ambition to see the Tweed Valley develop as a world-class activity destination,” commented Catherine Maxwell Stuart, Chair of the Tweed Valley BID steering group.

“This was a plan led by business for business and an overwhelming majority have backed our vision. I would like to thank Emma Guy and the whole team that has worked on the business plan and, of course, the businesses that have worked so closely with us along the way.”

From the beginning, Scottish Borders Council supported the development of the Tourism BID, providing advice and financial assistance for the development phase alongside the Scottish Government through the Scotland’s Towns Partnership.

Councillor Mark Rowley, the council’s Executive Member for Business and Economic Development, said: “I am delighted at the result of the BID vote, which demonstrates a huge commitment from tourism and hospitality businesses in the Tweed Valley to work together and make a great destination exceptional.

“The Tweed Valley BID is ambitious and will have an extremely positive impact on the area, enhancing and expanding the existing tourism offering and the vibrancy of an area that already punches well above its weight in attracting national and international events and visitors to the Scottish Borders.”

Scotland’s Improvement Districts, the national agency which supports business improvement districts across Scotland, also welcomed the outcome

Phil Prentice, National Programme Director of Scotland’s Improvement Districts said: “It’s great to see the establishment of the Tweed Valley as another tourism-themed improvement district in Scotland.

“This shows the flexibility of the business improvement district model, which as well as focusing on town centres or city neighbourhoods can be sectoral and span a wide geography.

“The Tweed Valley Tourism BID team has worked hard to build this collaborative vehicle for the area, and we wish them every success in their plans to make a difference for the local economy and communities.”

From this result, the project steering group will now establish and register the Tourism BID as a not-for-profit limited company, with the primary responsibility of delivering the projects outlined in the approved business plan. The Tourism BID will operate from 1 April 2020.

Tweed Valley Chair, Catherine Maxwell Stuart added: “We have some preparatory work to do ahead of the start of the Tourism BID in April next year, but we intend to hit the ground running and fully deliver on this exciting project.

“We can’t wait to get started.”