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Will Scottish Tourism Recover After The Referendum?

While all the talk about Scotland over the last few months has focused almost exclusively on whether they will vote for independence, another far more interesting story has remained untold until now. Some interesting tourism figures have been released recently which shows something of a ‘holiday divide’ appearing between Scotland the rest of the UK as of late.

According to hotel booking site Trivago, visits to Scotland from within the rest of the UK are down an astonishing 29% on the same period last year. Equally, the Scots themselves are visiting the rest of the British Isles far less, with a still-significant drop of 19% year-on-year. Bearing in mind how critical tourism is to Scotland’s economy this could pose a real blow to the country.

The reasoning for this surprising divide is not clear. Some experts are of the opinion that the much-discussed Scottish independence has caused something of a cultural rift between Scotland and the rest of the UK. While Scotland have wanted to stand on their own two feet, some English, Irish and Welsh citizens have found their willingness to leave a frustration.

Rather like a partner who expresses their dissatisfaction in a relationship it is not unreasonable for the snubbed party to feel rather hard-done-by. It may be that the disappointment felt by the rest of the UK is now being reflected in their unwillingness to cross Hadrian’s Wall.

Another possible reason for this rapid and serious decline in travel between Scotland and her neighbours could be a result of uncertainty as to what would happen in the case of independence. Nobody wants to take a chance and there seen to have been some concerns about exactly what independence could mean for all involved.

Even many politicians seemed unclear as to what would happen with regards to passports, visas, border controls and even currency if Scotland gained independence. Being trapped on the wrong side of the divide, without the necessary paperwork, could be an unpleasant experience.

Of course, playing devil’s advocate for a moment, the experts could all be wrong, and this touristic shift could have nothing to do with Scottish independence. As reported here recently, it seems that Brits are taking more foreign vacations than ever before. Consequently the drop in Scottish trips could simply be a natural side-effect of post-meltdown Britain instead heading off to the sun more frequently.

Now that Scotland has narrowly voted to stay, will we see a return to the old patterns of tourism in the Highlands? Only time will tell, though surprisingly it seems that even events that acted as major draws for tourists in the past –  such as the Ryder golf cup – have also failed to make their usual impact. The future is perhaps not as bright as Scotland would have hoped.
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