Scottish Tourism Week in March is an annual event raising awareness of tourism’s importance to Scotland’s economy. I recently signed up in Parliament to support this event. Dunfermline has so much potential as a destination but, as I continually hear locally, much of this is unfulfilled. My chief ambition as MSP is to see Dunfermline regenerated and attracting more visitors.
The ancient capital of Scotland should be on visitors’ itineraries. We have an abundance of historic buildings all around us, not limited to the Abbey and Palace. We have such amenities as the Carnegie Hall, Alhambra, Odeon, Carnegie Leisure Centre, big-name stores, excellent restaurants, cafes and pubs. 2013 is the Year of Natural Scotland, and we have the wonderful Pittencrieff Park. We also have good travel links to Edinburgh and Glasgow and are surrounded by beautiful towns and villages, such as historic Culross and Limekilns.
Various Initiatives are underway to boost Dunfermline’s profile. Fife Council has allocated £1m towards city centre regeneration and is working on a programme of events for 2014, as is Dunfermline Delivers. This will be a big year for Scottish tourism with the anniversary of Bannockburn. Plans could include an extra special Bruce Festival. Another development is the museum and art gallery planned for the heritage quarter. I raised a motion in Parliament to welcome a £2.8 million commitment from the Heritage Lottery Fund towards it. I am confident the facility will increase footfall in our city centre and will remind locals and tourists of the cultural heritage of the Auld Grey Toun.
The Forth Replacement Crossing, on target for completion by 2016, will make Dunfermline the gateway to Fife as the first major centre on crossing the Forth. 2016 will be a major opportunity to drive up visitor numbers. After visiting the newly built Contact and Education Centre, which will be a visitor centre for all three bridges and which possesses spectacular views of the Forth, I raised written questions in Parliament to find out what impact the Centre and Crossing could have for tourism. Responses are due later this month.
The above was originally written for Bill’s Dunfermline Press column. This version may vary slightly.