The UK’s biggest privately-owned coach tour operator will return to the Borders after 18 years thanks to a Business Gateway initiative.
From mid-July, the rolling yearly contract with David Urquart Travel will see two coach loads of visitors tour the Borders each week from their base, the newly refurbished George and Abbotsford Hotel in Melrose.
The deal, the first major success of the Discover Scottish Borders initiative, will inject an estimated £200,000 into the economy every year.
Spearheaded by Phil McCreadie, tourism business adviser at Business Gateway Scottish Borders, and funded with European cash, the initiative’s aim is to boost the economy by attracting coach tour and travel group operators.
Mr McCreadie said: “By visiting travel trade exhibitions like the Visit Scotland Expo and Best of Britain and Ireland, where the initial seed for this deal was sown, and by providing coach and group travel operators with all the information they need in a glossy brochure, the project has managed to bring a leading tour operator to the area.
“It will now hopefully encourage others to follow suit as well as highlight to local attractions that extending their opening hours during the winter months will help them benefit from the upturn in visitor figures.”
Nesta Gilliland, group managing director of David Urquhart Travel, said: “It is only through the Discover Scottish Borders project and Phil’s hard work in helping us source suitable accommodation and the increased flexibility of the visitor attractions that we’ve decided to return.”
Andria Gardner, who took over the hotel in December with husband Stuart, said: “This deal gives the George and Abbotsford a new lease of life – without it we would not be able to carry on. We’ve invested every pound we have into the hotel to get it back on its feet.
“It’s been a huge investment, but this deal shows the gamble has paid off.”