Want to know more about how the Tourism BID WILL help YOUR BUSINESS grow? We hope the following will answer your questions:
Over the years, there have been many new tourism partnership initiatives in the Scottish Borders. What makes this one different?
Firstly, it’s about a scope, scale and level of ambition that has not been seen before. It’s also about focus on a very specific area. The Tourism BID represents a long-term opportunity to develop a sustainable tourism business development plan that will put the Tweed Valley on the world map as a world-class activity destination.
Why is this the right time for a Tourism BID?
Tourism is one of the key components of the Scottish Government’s overall economic strategy and is one of the most important industries for the Scottish Borders. Latest figures show that tourism is worth around £72mn to the Borders, with the Tweed Valley blazing its own trail as an activity hotspot.
A Tourism BID is the ideal vehicle for further developing the area's tourism product – and the timing couldn’t be better. While in the past, the Tweed Valley and wider Scottish Borders were not always on the radar when it came to major investment in tourism, that has begun to change:
See South Scotland. In Autumn 2018, the Scottish Government granted VisitScotland £500,000 in additional funding to launch a two-year campaign to promote the south of Scotland as a tourism destination. We plan to build on that momentum
Borderlands Growth Deal. As part of the Borderlands Partnership (which brings together five, cross-border local authorities) there are multi-million-pound plans to create Europe’s only mountain bike innovation centre alongside a world-class bike park in and around Innerleithen. It’s a huge deal for the area - and not just in terms of mountain biking
South of Scotland Economic Agency. A new body, established to respond to the economic needs and opportunities of the South of Scotland, will begin its work in April 2020. Priority is being given to tourism and so with an organised tourism body representing tthe Tweed Valley there are many opportunities to access funding through the agency which will benefit businesses in the area.
What opportunity is there to access additional public funding for the area?
Lots. With the structure strongly supported by the Scottish Government and Scottish Borders Council, and recognised as an important partner model by VisitScotland, a Tourism BID has the advantage of being able to access public funding that is not necessarily open to individual businesses. As such, the Tourism BID will focus strongly on matching the money from businesses with additional public funding, ensuring that monies raised through the proposed levy work as hard as possible for the area. As a guide, other BID areas have typically leveraged around 41p for every £1 invested by local businesses – or nearly half as much again.
How are businesses included in the Tourism BID?
There are around 103 businesses included in the Tourism BID, all of which are included based on the following key criteria:
Businesses (as detailed on the Scottish Borders Council valuation roll by the local assessor) must operate in one of these tourism-related sectors: accommodation; visitor attractions; activities, galleries and museums; events, restaurants/cafes; transport services; and outdoor activity-related retail (such as bike shops). The only additions are public sector bodies that offer tourism services in premises not categorised in any of these sectors
Only those businesses with a non-domestic rateable value (RV) of £2,000 or more are included. This means that businesses without a non-domestic RV, or those that are below the £2,000 threshold, are exempt from paying the levy. However, such businesses – and there are many here in the Tweed Valley – can ‘opt-in’ by paying an annual fee that is commensurate with that paid by levy-paying businesses
Businesses must operate or be based in the geographical area covered by the Tourism BID (see below)
What geographical area does the Tourism BID cover?
As the Tourism BID area map demonstrates (see shaded area), the Tourism BID covers a core area that extends east from West Linton and Stobo, roughly following the River Tweed to encompass Peebles, Innerleithen, Walkerburn and Clovenfords, ending to the west of Selkirk. To the north, it also includes Eddleston.
It is important to emphasise that the Tourism BID will not duplicate any of the work carried out by the recently-approved Selkirk town centre BID, or overlap on services already provided by Scottish Borders Council. Nor will any business in the Selkirk area pay two levies.
Tell me more about the Tourism BID LEVY AND BALLOT
BIDs are developed, managed and paid for by the business sector through a compulsory levy which businesses within the proposed 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 project goes ahead or not. Ballot papers will be issued by post to all participating businesses on 3 October, after which businesses will have six weeks in which to cast their vote before the ballot closes at 5pm on 14 November 2019.
For full details on the banded levy fee, please see page 13 of our Business Plan.
Does the Tourism BID overlap with the work of local authoritieS?
No. The Tourism BID projects do not replace or duplicate statutory services that are already provided by Scottish Borders Council and other public bodies. The Tourism BID has agreed baseline service agreements with Scottish Borders Council to reassure business owners that the levy payment is only used for additional projects voted for by the businesses themselves. Additionally, baseline agreements avoid the risk that public agencies, including Scottish Borders Council, will reduce their current statutory level of service to the Tourism BID area following a successful ballot. Scottish Borders Council will, however, play a major role in working alongside and contributing to the Tourism BID.
How do we know this is what local tourism businesses want?
Because this is what you’ve told us! Extensive consultation with the area’s tourism businesses has been key to the creation of our initial five-year business plan. Consultation has included the distribution of a survey questionnaire in April 2018 which saw tourism businesses outline their hopes, ideas and ambitions for the development of tourism in the area. The findings are summarised in the news section of the website.
We have also spoken to almost 70 businesses face to face and held a series of open meetings. This consultation process has given us the best possible feel for where we are with tourism in the Tweed Valley today and, most importantly, how businesses would like to see that tourism product develop in the future.
What if the Tourism BID does not go ahead?
The Tourism BID is a chance to do something special - and important for the area.
Between 2011 and 2017 total visitors to the Borders dropped by almost 40%, with international visitors falling nearly 60% over the same time period. By comparison, visitors to Edinburgh and the Lothians grew by 18% in the same period. The Tweed Valley needs to capitalise on its natural assets and is in a good position to do so by working together and pooling resources.
Adventure tourism – defined as any trip that encompasses natural, cultural, and physical elements – continues to be the fastest growing sector of tourism. With significant investment in activity tourism coming to the Tweed Valley (Forest Holidays at Glentress, and Borderlands in Innerleithen), there is a huge opportunity for businesses in the Tweed Valley.
In order to maximise the opportunities and benefit local tourism businesses there needs to be an organisation that represents tourism businesses in the area. Currently, while there are clear activity/adventure tourism opportunities and huge investment coming to the area, we don’t have a destination level tourism organisation that is sustainable and focused solely on business.
The loss of visitor information services in Peebles has had a direct impact on businesses in the Tweed Valley and due to the scattered nature of many businesses in the area it is hard for visitors to discover what is available to do and see outside our town centres.
Without a sustainable tourism organisation representing local businesses it will be increasingly difficult to compete against other destinations as there will be no means of representing tourism businesses or to market and promote the Tweed Valley. Without an organisation that works solely for tourism businesses there will be no impetus to develop key projects to enhance the destination and attract visitors. There will be no voice for tourism in the area to communicate with public bodies and influence any public investment to the benefit of local businesses.
And without the combined investment by the private and public sector in the development of tourism in the Tweed Valley, the area will not realise its full potential. We believe the area will also not have the necessary resources to compete effectively with destinations elsewhere in Scotland, the wider UK and internationally.
What needs to happen for the ballot to be successful?
For the ballot to be successful, under the Improvement District legislation:
there must be a minimum turnout of at least 25% of those persons eligible to vote in the ballot, by both number and rateable value
of those eligible persons who vote, the majority must vote in favour of the Tourism BID by both number and rateable value
If the ballot is successful, payment of the annual Tourism BID levy will be mandatory on all eligible businesses in the BID area. If successful, the Tourism BID will commence in April 2020 and run for a period of five years through to April 2025.
How will the levy be collected (AND ENFORCED)?
Under legislation, Scottish Borders Council will collect the investment levy on behalf of the Tourism BID company. This will be an efficient, safe and cost-effective method of collection. Scottish Borders Council will deposit the levy in the company’s Revenue Account. The levy can only be drawn down by the Board of Directors to enable the delivery of the business plan. Invoices will be sent out from 1 April each year and will be payable either in a single, lump sum (due 28 days from the date of invoice), or monthly. In the event of non-payment of the levy, it will be strongly pursued by Scottish Borders Council using existing recovery powers to ensure complete fairness to all the businesses that have paid. A fee will be charged to meet any additional costs incurred in the recovery of the levy.
How will the Tourism BID be governed and managed?
Following a successful ballot, a Tourism BID company will be established and registered as a not-for-profit limited company with the primary responsibility of delivering the projects outlined in the approved business plan, which will operate from 1 April 2020.
This company will be managed by the BID Steering Group until a Board of Directors is elected, but for no longer than three months after the ballot date. The company will operate in an open and transparent way, answerable to the businesses in the area. The Board of Directors will ensure that a Code of Conduct (including a Register of Interests) and Management and Governance will be created and agreed as policy by the Directors. There will be a detailed set of protocols (the Operating Agreement) which will cover, as well as other items, the billing, collection and transfer of the levy to the BID company.
There will be a maximum of 12 positions on the board, all of which will be voluntary and unpaid. It is expected that regular finance meetings with Scottish Borders Council will take place and an annual audit of the Tourism BID finances will also take place through an independent auditor. Every eligible person that pays the levy will have the opportunity to nominate themselves or someone else from within the BID area to be elected onto the Company Board but limited to one eligible person from each eligible property. The new company will be run by the businesses for the businesses. This Board will be responsible for all decisions relating to staff, contracts, the delivery of the approved business plan and other activities generated by the BID.
Nominations of directors from outside of the BID, who do not pay the levy and who may or may not represent those making voluntary or other financial contributions toward the BID, will be strictly at the discretion of the Board of Directors.
The Board of Directors will recruit staff to ensure the efficient delivery of the projects and effective communications with the levy payers. The Board will be representative of the businesses and stakeholders in the area. The Chair, Vice Chair and Treasurer will be elected from the directors of the Board. Non-voting members or local groups may be co-opted onto the Board at the Board’s discretion.
The BID Company Board will have the authority to adapt or alter the projects and services from year to year to reflect any change in economic circumstances or any new opportunities that may arise. This will be in the best interests of the levy payers and without recourse to an alteration ballot.
How will WE MEASURE success?
Throughout the lifetime of the Tourism BID, all work on specific projects will be monitored to ensure those proposed in the business plan achieve a high level of impact, and are delivering to the satisfaction of the businesses that voted for the BID. The Board of Directors will monitor and oversee the efficient delivery of all projects. The Tourism BID will also undergo an independent evaluation Assessment and Accreditation Interim Review of its activities at the halfway point and towards the end of the second term to ensure it is delivering all the projects and services as detailed in this plan.
The objective of an Assessment and Accreditation Interim Review for Scottish Improvement District companies is to give confidence to businesses and the board of directors that the practices of the BID company are robust and accord with good practice and supplies an audit trail to support any future evaluation of the company.
For any further questions, please contact Emma Guy, Project Coordinator, e. firstname.lastname@example.org