VisitScotland's chief executive has told tourism bosses that the industry's ambitious growth target is still possible despite the economic slowdown.
Speaking at the Northern Lights Tourism Awards in Aberdeen, Philip Riddle said that, while the industry will see an income drop of up to 10% this year, the growth target of 50% (between 2004-2015) to annual revenue of £6b is still achievable.
Riddle pointed to the recent opening of a Malmaison Aberdeen and the approved plans for billionaire Donald Trump's £1b golf resort in the north-east as evidence of future investment in the region.
But he warned that continued investment in the industry is essential, and predicted that 2009 will be a tough year for tourism as consumers cut down on spending.
"In the past, we have had good-quality businesses borrowing to invest in growth and some of these could be penalised in this environment," Riddle said. "This is an industry that needs continual investment. The big danger now is that this investment will dry up, which would lead to deteriorating standards."
The words echoed Riddle's warning last year that the growth target would not be achieved without "steady and substantial" increases in its annual government funding of £60m.
His comments came as the Spanish Government announced plans to help the country's tourism industry deal with the effects of the global credit crunch by supplying a cash injection worth €400m.
The tourism aid package is designed to help modernise the tourism industry and make Spain a more attractive destination to consumers, through interest-free loans for businesses in the sector.
By Rosie Birkett
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