Borders hotelier Rachael Hamilton has been appointed as shadow cabinet secretary for culture and tourism just weeks after being voted in as MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire.
Mrs Hamilton, previously a Conservative regional list MSP and party spokesman for tourism and small business, said she would use her new post to promote the region as a visitor destination.
Citing a Scottish Borders Council report revealing that tourism is worth almost £200m a year to the region and that spending by visitors was up 16% last year, she said: “Borders businesses must now make capital of these positive tourism figures.
“The Scottish Borders should be a first stop for tourists. People complain that Edinburgh is overcrowded with visitors. Before hitting the city, domestic and international visitors should head to the Umbria of Scotland – the Scottish Borders.
“Borders towns ooze history, art and culture.
“Visitors can try out wonderful locally-produced food and drink, stunning walks and cycle routes, fabulous golf courses, rolling hills and rural landscape. It really is a fantastic place to visit with so much to offer.”
The 46-year-old, co-owner of the Buccleuch Arms at St Boswells, added: “I will work hard in my new role, using my experience and knowledge to further promote our tourism industry that benefits our economy and provides so many local jobs.
“I will continue to hold the SNP to account over unfair hikes in business rates to hospitality and tourism businesses.
“The UK Government has recognised this. Its Borderlands growth initiative is a significant step in the right direction, and I will be fully involved in promoting the Borders and our key industries within that process.”
The Borderlands Growth Initiative is a cross-border mechanism involving five local authorities, created to deliver economic growth across the region.