The Scottish Government is being challenged to “urgently” produce a blueprint to help boost the country’s tourism industry.
Scottish Conservatives made the plea as they criticised Humza Yousaf for appointing a minister for independence but failing to have a dedicated minister for the “vital” tourism sector.
Tory finance spokesperson Liz Smith raised the issue ahead of a Holyrood debate on Wednesday, claiming the industry was “being failed at every turn right now” by the Scottish Government.
Decisions on rates in Scotland have left businesses north of the border at a “disadvantage compared with their UK counterparts”, the Conservative MSP said.
Her party will also criticise the SNP and Green administration at Holyrood for failing to deal with infrastructure issues across rural and island communities – saying problems with ferries and the lack of dualling on much of the A9 road to the Highlands have had a knock-on impact on tourism.
Ms Smith said: “The tourism sector is absolutely vital to the future growth and success of Scotland’s economy.
“However, the industry is being failed at every turn right now by an SNP-Green government who do not even have a dedicated tourism minister in place any more, but find room for a minister for independence.”
She claimed the Government had introduced a “slew of regulations that undermine tourism businesses and saddle them with additional costs and red tape”.
She added: “There is an anti-business agenda running through the heart of the SNP-Green coalition.
“They have failed to pass on 75% rates relief to our leisure, hospitality and retail businesses which has left them at a disadvantage compared with their UK counterparts, and that impacts negatively on our tourism sector.
“Our rural and island communities in particular have been deeply damaged by their failures.
“From the ferry scandal, which has left islands without lifeline services, rowing back on promises to dual key routes and failing to deliver on their superfast broadband programme, this is a Government which is not on the side of our rural areas where many of tourism hotspots are.”
Ms Smith continued: “The SNP-Green government has been short-changing the tourist industry for years.
“They must now urgently provide a blueprint for how they intend to repair that damage and begin by listening to the concerns of the local residents and tourism businesses that they have let down so badly.”