Although the Business Improvement District (BID) concept has been around for a while – it originated in Canada in the 1970s – the plan for a Tourism BID here in the Tweed Valley is most definitely new and exciting. While there have been more than 135 BIDs around the UK, the bulk of these have been town centre improvement projects. If approved, the Tweed Valley BID will become only the second tourism-based BID in Scotland, following that of Visit Inverness Loch Ness in 2014.
BIDs are developed, managed and paid for by the business sector by means of a compulsory levy which businesses within the proposed BID area must vote in favour of before a BID can be established. Each business liable to contribute to the BID will be able to vote on whether the BID goes ahead or not.
With tourism in the Tweed Valley having made significant steps forward over the past 15 years – not least as a cycling destination – a BID is the perfect vehicle for taking the area's tourism product to an even higher level. In doing so, businesses will be at the very heart of the decision-making process as we look to create a tourism offer that is truly exceptional.
So, what happens now? There are three key steps:
To begin with, we will consult with businesses of all shapes and sizes to better understand how the industry would like to see the area develop as a tourism destination in the years ahead. This consultation, which includes a survey (see link button below) for all local tourism businesses to complete, will continue until the end of August 2018.
Feedback from tourism businesses will help shape the creation of a comprehensive, five-year business plan for the Tourism BID. This will be prepared between September and November 2018, with the initial draft plan available for further consultation and shaping in Spring 2019.
Once the business plan is finalised - scheduled for June 2019 - the BID proposal will be put to a vote for local tourism businesses, with a ballot scheduled for Autumn 2019. If approved, the scheme will enable Scottish Borders Council to collect a compulsory levy from all the businesses involved, with the funds invested in delivering the agreed plan.
Graeme Ambrose, CEO, Visit Inverness Loch Ness, very kindly spoke at the launch of the Tweed Valley Tourism BID in April, during which he detailed how Inverness Loch Ness successfully negotiated the BID process – and how the area has gone from strength to strength since. A copy of his presentation can be found below.
The exact geographical extent of the Tweed Valley Tourism BID, and the levy to be paid, will not be fully determined until we’ve had a chance to gather all input from tourism businesses in the area. As the project is 100% business-led, we will only move forward once we have received comments, ideas and thoughts on exactly how businesses would like to see tourism develop here in the Tweed Valley. Our current thinking is outlined in our recently-published draft business plan, with further questions answered here.
And for more on other BIDs, and how they have worked elsewhere in Scotland, please visit BIDS Scotland.