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Moray tourism industry votes to introduce Business Improvement District


By Jonathan Clark

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TOURISM businesses across Moray have voted in favour of introducing only the third Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID) in Scotland.

The TBID aims to ensure Moray is marketed well as a tourist destination, and take the area's tourism performance to the next level through the delivery of a five-year business plan.

Laurie Piper, front, at the official launch of the campaign for a Tourism Business Improvement District in Moray Speyside. Picture: Becky Saunderson
Laurie Piper, front, at the official launch of the campaign for a Tourism Business Improvement District in Moray Speyside. Picture: Becky Saunderson

All of Moray's 378 tourism businesses were eligible to vote in the Moray Speyside Tourism BID ballot, which was open from the start of December until January 16. The results were announced at Elgin Library last night.

A total of 141 (37.9 per cent) of eligible businesses voted, with 106 (75.18 per cent) voting in favour of the BID, and 35 (24.82 per cent) voting against.

This result comes after the nearby Inverness Loch Ness Tourism BID was re-elected for a second term recently. Tweed Valley is the only other area with a TBID.

Laurie Piper, Operations Manager at Moray Speyside Tourism, was delighted with the decision.

He said: "The result from those who voted is strong and resounding. It gives a strong mandate for the delivery of the five-year business plan. Moray Speyside has done its job and then some.

"The challenge for TBID is to make sure every business, whether they voted yes, no or not at all, is part of this and feels the benefit over the five year period.

Laurie Piper
Laurie Piper

"I would like to thank everyone who has taken part, been around or involved with Moray Tourism BID for the last six years."

Given Moray Speyside's TBID is only the country's third, there is little in way of comparison – but the Inverness Loch Ness TBID provides a good benchmark.

The BID there was initially backed with similar numbers but, after success, was re-elected with an increased majority of a larger turnout.

Mr Piper added: "We are on day one of the next stage but we look across the boundary at Inverness Loch Ness and their turnout initially was similar to ours. They had some for, some against and some who didn't vote, and now they have been elected with an increased majority.

"It's about proving to people the money they will pay is worth them paying."

Businesses will pay varying amounts of money for the bid, depending on their rateable value, with the average business paying around 75p a day. Officially, the five year period begins on April 1.

Last year Moray welcomed 800,000 visitors, with an estimated 2800 people working in the tourism industry. Tourism was worth £130 million to the Moray economy in 2019, and the TBID will invest more than £1 million over the course of its five year term.

Moray Council Leader Graham Leadbitter (SNP, Elgin South) and Moray's Conservative MP Douglas Ross both welcomed the result of the ballot.

Cllr Leadbitter said: "This is great news for Moray’s hugely important tourism sector. Moray Speyside Tourism has played a huge strategic role in recent years in upping the game on tourism in our region.

"Getting a Tourism BID in place is a ringing endorsement of their efforts and a vote of confidence that will enable them to build on that work for years to come."

And Mr Ross added: "Moray has a lot to offer in terms of iconic scenery, leisure activities, arts and crafts and tourism business and I have no doubt that the whole area will ultimately benefit from this decision.

"Huge thanks must go to Laurie Piper who worked flat out to deliver this result, engaging with all the interested parties and agencies. His efforts have ensured this aspiration could become a reality."

Sarah Medcraf, Chief Executive Officer at Moray Chamber of Commerce, has worked closely with Moray Speyside Tourism over the last six years and is delighted with the outcome. She said: "We are delighted with the result. A huge amount of work has gone into getting it this far, and this is only the beginning."

The chief executive of Moray Chamber of Commerce, Sarah Medcraf.
The chief executive of Moray Chamber of Commerce, Sarah Medcraf.

Businesses that do not fall into the 378 considered "tourism businesses" can still opt into the scheme. Details on how to do so will be released in due course.


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