Want to know more about how the Tourism BID works, and how it will help grow your business? 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 tourism destination.

Why is this the right time for a Tourism BID?

Tourism is one of the key components of the Scottish Government’s 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 particular growth seen along the Borders Railway corridor.

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. A range of new initiatives are either underway or being discussed, including:

  • VisitScotland. In Autumn 2018, VisitScotland announced that the Scottish Government had granted £500,000 in additional funding to launch a two-year campaign to promote the south of Scotland as a tourism destination. The See South Scotland campaign targets leisure visitors from domestic and international markets through the development of online content, foreign press trips, partnerships and digital marketing.

  • Borderlands Growth Deal. As part of the unique 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.

By creating a structure through the Tourism BID, we can maximise the tourism potential of the area through developing strategic partnerships with many of these public sector bodies (and, crucially, help shape such developments). 

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 an example, 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 120 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?

Tweed Valley Business Plan_MAP.jpg

It covers much of the same geographical area that the Tweed Valley Tourist Consortium has traditionally worked across – a core area that extends east from West Linton and Stobo, roughly following the Tweed as far as Selkirk. The map includes a variety of ‘gateway’ businesses located at key entry points to the area.

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 vote?

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 in Autumn 2019, and businesses will have six weeks in which to cast their vote before the ballot closes.

Does the Tourism BID overlap with the work of local authorities and other public agencies?

No. The Tourism BID projects and activities 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 a variety of public agencies – including Scottish Borders Council, Forestry Commission, SoSEP and VisitScotland – 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.

However, Scottish Borders Council, along with other agencies, will play a major role in working alongside and contributing to the Tourism BID.

How do we know this is what local tourism businesses want?

Mainly because it’s what we’ve been told! Extensive consultation with the area’s tourism businesses has been key to the creation of the Tourism BID draft 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 more than 60 businesses face to face and held open business meetings in Innerleithen (October 2018) and Peebles (February 2019). 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.

And the consultation is not over yet; feedback on our draft business plan, plus further meetings with businesses and community organisations, will be reflected in the final business plan which will be presented to businesses in June 2019.

What if the Tourism BID does not go ahead?

We will lose the opportunity to invest more than £400,000 (with potential to lever much more) over the next five years in targeted projects and activities that will greatly improve the Tweed Valley as a tourism destination.

The Tourism BID is a chance to do something special. 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

Where a property is vacant, on the day of ballot, the ballot paper will be sent to the property owner.

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?

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, the Tweed Valley Tourism Consortium will cease trading and 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.

Members of the Tourism BID Steering Group will act as a ‘shadow board’ for the initial period following the ballot to ensure that there is minimal delay in implementing the business plan. A new board will then be elected within three months of the successful ballot. The board will reflect the tourism sectors covered by the Tourism BID.  Only levy payers will have the right to nominate directors.

Additionally, there will be scope to nominate two geographical area directors to represent the interests of ‘opt-in’ members. There will be a maximum of 12 positions on the board, all of which will be voluntary and unpaid. Scottish Borders Council will be invited to provide an advisory role through at least one council representative and will automatically be provided with the financial report. It is also 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.

The day-to-day management of the Tourism BID and responsibility for delivering projects will lie with the BID manager. Ultimate responsibility will rest with the Board of Directors.

The Board of Directors will reserve the right to consider creating a charitable arm of the company to enable it to secure additional funding that can only be sourced with charitable status. The board will adopt best practice in its procedures and be open and transparent in its operations.

How will success be measured?

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.

The Assessment and Accreditation Interim Review is recommended by Improvement District Scotland as good practice and is included as one of the good practice elements of all Scottish Improvement District proposals and subsequent business plans.

For any further questions, please contact Emma Guy, Project Coordinator, e. tweedvalleyemma@gmail.com