New future and a new chairman for SBTP

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Earlston’s Tom Burnham has been elected as the new chairman at of the Scottish Borders Tourism Partnership (SBTP).

Taking the reins at an exciting time for tourism in the region, Mr Burnham plans an even greater engagement with the community at large, and he is calling on the industry to get involved, with nominations open for several positions on the Partnership.

The voluntary membership of the SBTP includes representatives from accommodation providers, visitor attractions, leisure activities and community groups, as well as public sector partners including Scottish Borders Council, VisitScotland, Forestry Commission Scotland and Business Gateway.

Mr Burnham is leading the delivery of the newly-refreshed Scottish Borders Regional Tourism strategy 2014-2020 which has ambitious targets for the future of Borders tourism. These include increasing visitor numbers, increasing visitor stay and spend and maximising the tourism opportunities afforded to the region by the arrival of the new Borders Railway.

He said: “A keystone to all of these ambitions, in the first instance, is improving skills and training in the tourism industry. I would like to see more opportunities for training in the tourism and hospitality professions, offered right here in the Borders. It’s currently very difficult for students in the Borders to find training locally. If we can change that, we can encourage more young people to enter the tourism industry right here, and bring their enthusiasm and newly-acquired knowledge directly to the benefit of visitors and the Borders economy at large.”

As a first step, Mr Burnham is keen to broaden the representation of the Partnership. “This is an exciting time to take a greater involvement, and with the coming of the Borders railway and the Great Scottish Tapestry, among other developments, I want us to be in even closer communication with the tourism industry at large.”

The Partnership meets quarterly and nominations for new representative members remain open for a short time.

Mr Burnham said: “I would specifically like to hear from more of those with a direct involvement in visitor attractions, hotels, activities providers, the creative industries, retail and bed and breakfast providers.”

Mr Burnham takes over the chair from Catherine Maxwell-Stuart who is standing down after two years in the post.