Marine Tourism

Stuart McMillan MSP, the Convenor of Recreational Boating and Marine Tourism Cross Party Group (CPG) explains how it provides a Parliamentary focus for wider recreational marine issues by discussing issues pertinent to the marine leisure industry as a whole.

Since establishing the CPG in 2008 I have been constantly surprised.

Surprised at how little is known about the industry outside of the established circles, surprised at how the marine environment continues to evolve in financially unstable times and surprised at the lack of knowledge of such issues amongst the general public.

My previous knowledge in this field was limited to the shipyards I grew up with in Inverclyde and the subsequent decline in the West of Scotland when they began to close. The current regeneration in the area, led by Riverside Inverclyde, is giving me great hope for the future with new marinas and the accompanying infrastructure proving to be a welcome sight for many in Greenock and beyond.

I am pleased that some of these issues are now higher up the agenda for many people, with environmental issues consistently reported in mainstream media; I would like to hope that the CPG has played a small part in that. However, the industry is still far under-represented in the wider tourism sector and we, as elected representatives, must acknowledge that we cannot overlook the vast wealth it brings to Scotland.

As with the other areas sea angling provides its own success story with the most recent economic study suggesting there are around 150,000 sea anglers in Scotland with £141 million - £203 million contributed to the economy. This is substantial amount of money feeding in to the economy outside the main tourist season, which benefits businesses local to the specific area. For example, in the Solway alone over £25million is contributed to the local economy, which is without doubt a huge boost for the immediate community.

Such is the regional variation within angling there is vast scope for more interconnected workings between the angling community and related organisations such as accommodation providers, hostelries and cafes etc. This also leads to looking beyond sea angling and forces us to consider the balance between commercial and recreational fisheries. I see huge potential in all of these areas and if the CPG can assist in facilitating such cohesive working I would be extremely pleased.

The most recent report into the sailing tourism sector, and first of its kind, commissioned by Scottish Enterprise, estimated in February 2010 that the current value of the market is £101 million. The development of the sector shows the potential for an increase by £44 million to £145 million after 10 years. Of course these are not exact figures with many industry experts strongly believing that they are under-estimation.

The key aim of the study was to: “Establish the current contribution the sailing tourism sector makes to the Scottish economy and to highlight what potential there is within the sector with investment in new ‘product’ to grow GVA impact.”

The report specifically states; “In order to unlock the potential economic advantages that might be available in future, each area will have to develop its own development strategy that is relevant to its current position and the opportunities available.”

This is not just about sailing in the traditional sense but instead we need to incorporate even closer working partnerships between the various marine tourism outlets.

The Wildlife tourism report, published in June 2010, showed that the net impact of all wildlife tourism in Scotland is around £65m with around £15m of this being marine wildlife tourism and a further £24m relating to coastal tourism including shore based activities. Just think of the potential for Scotland in a burgeoning market like this.

I believe each area, both geographically and in terms of tourism sectors, should take up this challenge in order to extract even more accurate figures. Armed with such statistics we can continue to push the industry forward in order to benefit local communities, the Scottish economy as a whole and further stake a marine tourism claim on being one of Scotland’s top beneficiaries.

I am proud that the CPG has already brought together organisations from across the spectrum and for the first time we have everyone from canoeists and canal boaters to representatives from VisitScotland and Scottish Enterprise round one table. By encouraging cohesive working relations amongst the different agencies and representatives I believe we can move the industry forward with a view to heightening awareness of the marine tourism sector and in turn boosting the economic value of sailing.

The marine tourism sector is something that I think every stakeholder can be proud of and I hope we can all work together in order to further highlight the benefits it brings to each and every local community across Scotland.

As we know any election can throw up changes, welcome or otherwise, and the Scottish Parliament election in May 2011 will be no different. I hope that whoever is elected and whoever forms a Government in Scotland the CPG, and more importantly the marine tourism industry as a whole, is not neglected.

We have seen real progress in promoting the sector and now that we know just how much is contributed to the Scottish economy we cannot let the opportunities pass the industry by. I look forward to continuing my own campaigns on behalf of marine tourism and I look forward to watching the sector continue to go from strength to strength.

Cross-Party Groups provide an opportunity for Members of all parties, outside organisations and members of the public to meet and discuss a shared interest in a particular cause or subject.

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CPG Membership

Group Officers

Convener: Stuart McMillan MSP

Vice Convener: Margaret Mitchell MSP

Vice Convener: Jackie Baillie MSP

Vice Convener: Jamie McGrigor MSP

Secretary/Treasurer: Mike Balmforth


Kenneth Gibson, Jamie Stone, Cathie Craigie

Non-MSP Individuals

Cllr Gordon McDonald, Cllr Bob Eadie, Eddie Palmer, Andy Carnduff, Richard Millar, Ronnie Simpson, Hugh Henderson, David Vass, Brian McLeish, Rhona Fairgrieve, Steve Bastiman, Elizabeth Daly, Capt Gordon Daly, Duncan McLean, David Adams McGilp, Gordon Ritchie, Helen McMeekin, Rev Renata Edge, Simon Limb, Martin Latimer, Howard Pridding, Robin Cole, Stuart Smith, Tony Bennett

Organisations Represented

Scottish Boating Alliance, British Waterways, Scottish Canoe Association, Scottish Inland Waterways Association, RYA Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Coastal Forum, Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network, Seagull Trust, Ocean Youth Trust Scotland, Moray Firth Partnership, British Marine Federation, Yachting Life