Failure to value the A68 "Carter Bar Panorama", often seen as the most spectacular scenic gateway to Scotland, is resulting in a "major missed marketing opportunity" according to a new survey by the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland.
Claiming to be the first survey of its type to be based on the responses of operators rather than tourists, the report – The Economic Value Of Landscape In The Scottish Borders – concludes that "coherent management of scenic assets, cultural heritage, tourism and events programmes does not exist on the Scottish side of Carter Bar".
Citing evidence collated from local tourism businesses of the economic value of the area's "beautiful unspoiled scenery", 93% of respondents expressed interest in a joint marketing initiative to raise awareness of the area's natural assets if funding assistance were available.
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According to the survey, tourism in the Teviot Valleys Special Landscape Area provides around 164 full-time equivalent jobs, a significant number in a sparsely populated rural area. It goes on to reflect strong concern at Scottish Borders Council's consideration of three large-scale wind farms, with a minimum combined total of 35 large turbines
The report said: "Approval of any one of these would set a precedent that could turn the Teviot Valleys SLA hills into a "wind farm landscape".
The survey, which received a high (64%) response rate from 57 local tourism businesses, finds that 76% of respondents found large-scale turbines "unhelpful" to marketing the area, with 69% saying they would be "unhelpful" in generating repeat business.
One-third (33%) of respondents had discussed wind farms with customers and reported negative views. Only one reported hearing support for wind turbines.