Abbey could be tourism key - MSP

Angus South MSP Graeme Dey believes Arbroath Abbey could be the key to bringing American tourists to Scotland.

In a debate in the Scottish Parliament on the future of Scottish tourism, the local MSP appealed for the Abbey to be put at the forefront of efforts to attract visitors from the other side of the Atlantic.

And since then he has written to tourism minister Fergus Ewing and Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland, pressing the case.

Mr Dey explained: “Whatever the future direction of Scottish tourism, and under this government I am sure it will be a positive direction, one thing is certain, it must involve utilising every tool at our disposal to entice visitors to this country.

“And the case for putting Angus at the heart of our tourism marketing, at least in relation to the US, is surely beyond challenge.

“It is reckoned that the marketing campaigns that we presently mount last year generated a little over £20 million from American visitors whose numbers went up 18 per cent in 2011.

“And that upward trend in visitors is clearly encouraging.

“But imagine the numbers we could be posting if we more fully deployed every resource at our disposal.

“And Arbroath Abbey, I would suggest, is an under-employed resource.”

During his speech Mr Dey highlighted the links between the Declaration of Arbroath and the American Declaration of Independence.

He also pointed out the influence that Carmyllie born William Small had on Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the American Declaration of Independence, and the fact America’s Tartan Day is April 6, the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath.

And in making the case for the Abbey he added: “We are told that half of all visitors to Scotland visit historic sites and 63 per cent of all non-domestic visitors have links to this country.

“Well, it is reckoned there are six million people in North America who claim Scottish ancestry.

“And what greater historic site, in terms of influence beyond these shores do we have than Arbroath Abbey?”

Twitter: @JenniferNewton1