Tourism in Berwickshire could take a serious hit next year if the Jim Clark Rally does not take place.
The motor sport event is estimated to bring in around £3 million a year to the local economy but Scottish Borders Council say that planning the 2015 rally cannot get started because the investigation into the fatal accident at this year’s event is not yet complete, leaving insufficient time to organise the closed roads event.
Rally organisers are keen to have an event of some kind and are looking at the possibility of an off-road rally for 2015, which would probably have to take place outside Berwickshire. However, plans are at a very early stage.
Events such as the Jim Clark Rally play an ever increasing role in the Borders economy. Tourism is a major employer in the region; in 2011 visitors spent over £11 million a year here.
In the Scottish Parliament last week local MSP John Lamont asked what the Government’s strategy was for promoting and developing tourism in the Borders.
Tourists in Scotland generate £10 billion of economic activity every year and Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing replied: “The Government economic strategy identifies tourism as a growth sector.
“The Scottish Government is assisting public bodies to support tourism via the industry-led Scottish Tourism Alliance ‘Tourism Strategy 2020’, by way of joined up working between the public agencies.
“29 Homecoming events have taken place in the Scottish Borders, four of which have received funding of £112,000 in total (Melrose Sevens, Return to the Ridings, TweedLove Bike Festival, Borders Book Festival).
“VisitScotland promotes the Scottish Borders to millions of consumers throughout the national visitscotland.com website, with over 700 Scottish Borders business listings and a wealth of information and inspiration on what to see and do in the region.
“VisitScotland also operates five VisitScotland Information Centres at Hawick, Melrose, Peebles, Jedburgh and Kelso with two information points in partnership in Eyemouth and Selkirk.”
EventScotland has invested over £200,000 a year in the region over the past three years,