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New line provides economic boost

Borders rail leads to surge in business takings

Borders railwayThe new Borders Railways has produced an immediate surge in tourists visiting the region.

VisitScotland has revealed that tourism businesses have seen significant growth since the line was opened just over a month ago, with some doubling their takings.

Tourists from around the globe have taken trips on the 35-mile line which connects Edinburgh to Tweedbank.

Abbotsford House and the National Mining Museum Scotland are among the venues to have benefited from the influx.

Main highlights:

 –       Abbotsford House reporting an 18.4% increase on 2014 in visitor numbers leading to an extension in the attraction’s summer opening hours into October

       4 out of 5 shops in Galashiels reporting takings to have doubled

       The County House Hotel in Selkirk employing a dedicated Sir Walter Scott impersonator to greet passengers

       The Hope Scott Wing in Abbotsford reporting a 2% increase in business directly through the opening of the railway or through people reading about Abbotsford in the media

       Herges on the Loch in Tweedbank reporting a 50% increase in its lunches with the steam train packages having a particular impact

       National Mining Museum Scotland reporting a real ‘buzz’ and increased interest, welcoming school trips by rail for the first time

       Scottish Borders Council specially-appointed Borders Railway Ambassadors reporting more than 600 face-to-face tourism enquiries in one week

       Burts and Townhouse Hotels in Melrose stating that the Railway has ‘exceeded expectations’ and introducing seven new packages to coincide with the line opening

       20,000 visits to the Borders Railway dedicated page on VisitScotland.com

       17 sold out steam train journeys, carrying around 6,200 passengers

       Galashiels Museum extending hours to open on a Sunday solely due to upsurge in visitors

       Significant global press trips including travel journalists representing influential publications in France, Germany, US, Canada, Ireland

       Commencement of new shuttle taxi service from Eskbank to Rosslyn Chapel

       Scottish Borders Food Network launching a food and drink trail of the Borders’ best eateries and suppliers, accessible from the railway

Scotrail reported this week that more than 125,000 passenger journeys have been made on the route, with demand so high that extra carriages have had to be added to many services especially at weekends.

VisitScotland is investing £367,000 in a three-year international marketing campaign. The funding, provided by Scottish Borders Council and Midlothian Council, and with match funding from the Scottish Government, will be used to promote the Borders Railway and surrounding regions to national and international markets.

The original Waverley Route ran south from Edinburgh, through Midlothian and the Scottish Borders, to Carlisle. The line was named after a series of novels by Sir Walter Scott and served as an important export channel for both the wool and coal industries of that time.

Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland said: “The opening of the Borders Railway was an emotional moment for many, and such great results from just one month in service is absolutely fantastic news and more than we could ever have wished for.

“However, this is just the beginning and to ensure continued tourism success, we must continue to invest in and promote the experience, listening to visitor feedback and adapting as necessary.

 “t is evident already that tourism is breathing new life into these regions touching on every industry, business and community and we look forward to continuing our work with partners to make the Borders Railway a success.”

Giles Ingram, chief executive of Abbotsford House said:Abbotsford has noticed a significant increase in visitor numbers as a direct result of the opening of the Borders Railway link to Edinburgh. It has expanded our day visit market potential to Edinburgh and beyond, opening our doors to a much wider marketplace and enhancing our appeal as a destination.”

Fergus Ewing, Tourism Minister said:The news today that tourism businesses in Midlothian and the Scottish Borders have reported significant growth since the Borders Railway reopened last month is fantastic.”

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