By Karen Peattie

ATTRACTING tourists from overseas forms part of a Perthshire-based hotel owner’s growth strategy following a major investment that was completed last year.

Anne MacDonald, owner of the five-star boutique hotel The Old Manse of Blair which opened in 2016, told the Go Radio Business Show with Hunter & Haughey that she had recently returned from a Visit Britain-led sales trip to Washington to promote the business to a US audience as she looks to shape its future.

Ms MacDonald asked entrepreneurs Sir Tom Hunter and Lord Willie Haughey how they would progress in the current challenging economic environment.

Lord Haughey, owner of City Facilities Management Holdings, praised Ms MacDonald’s foresight in attending global fairs to attract inbound tourism business while Sir Tom said that the dollar’s current strength and a weaker pound made the UK an attractive proposition for American tourists, offering value for money.

But Lord Haughey cautioned: “In the current environment, go forward cautiously and avoid major debt would be my advice.”

Pointing to opportunities “even in these difficult times”, Sir Tom added: “You have to be on top of your cash flow – cash flow is everything – and Willie is right about trying to keep your debt levels down.

"Understanding your customers and delivering what they want is also important and I think that American tourists just now are going to be looking at Britain – and Scotland – and thinking it offers great value for money.”

Ms MacDonald, who previously worked in marketing, events and broadcasting, pointed to the location of The Old Manse of Blair in Highland Perthshire just minutes from two major Scottish tourist attractions – the House of Bruar and Blair Castle – as key strengths.

The ivy-clad Old Manse of Blair, which is set in a 10-acre estate, targets the luxury market.

Built in 1828, it offers 26 rooms and is also home to The Orangery fine dining restaurant serving local, seasonal produce.