A HANDFUL of protesters who told holidaymakers approaching the Scottish border to stay at home was an “absolute disgrace”, the Scottish Tory leader has said.

A group of pro-independence activists staged a demonstration on the A1 on Saturday, hanging up a banner reading "Staycation - Keep Scotland Covid-Free" beneath the official Welcome To Scotland sign at the side of the road.

Yesterday, Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf led SNP criticism of the incident, labelling it “horrible, reprehensible and vile”.

He added: “If you are a racist you are no friend of mine and no part of the movement I belong to.

“Luckily these morons don't represent the Scotland I know and love.”

Police have now issued “suitable advice” to the demonstrators.

READ MORE: Police speak to protesters at English border demanding for 'Covid-free' Scotland

The Scottish Conservative leader, Jackson Carlaw, has warned that no-one should be "put off" visiting Scotland.

Speaking on the BBC's Sunday Politics Scotland show, Mr Carlaw said there should be a "real effort" into marketing Scotland as a tourist destination.

He said: "We've got to change the language because the scenes we saw on the border yesterday afternoon were an absolute disgrace.

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"Nicola Sturgeon hasn't yet, and if she's watching now I really do hope even belatedly she will come out and stop that kind of rhetoric and language.

"We need people to come safely to Scotland to visit and to stay here on holiday and we should be encouraging that, not putting people off."

Asked by the BBC's Gordon Brewer if the protest was just a few people "clowning around", he said: "It is but these send messages out.

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"We need to do everything we can to support our industry as best we can."

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: "Police in the Borders were called to a layby area near the A1 at Lamberton at around 2.25pm on Saturday July 4, following a report of protest activity at the side of the carriageway.

"Officers attended and suitable advice has been given to those in attendance."