I READ with interest the article from Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, on Scotland’s tourist industry and the problems it faces (“Challenges on every front, but tourism will deliver for Scotland this summer”, The Herald, June 27). It is unarguable that much of what he writes is valid, but as one who has travelled and still travels extensively, I have to say that the tourist industry in general doesn’t do much to help itself.

The problems that face the industry are endemic across Europe and yet the levels of service and cost there are far more attractive to the tourist than they are here and, indeed, the rest of the UK. In the last few months my wife and I have had trips to Paris, Rome, Amalfi and also to visit family in the United States and in comparison we fall short at every turn.

Go to Italy or Spain and enjoy a cocktail in a bar and it will come with a selection of nibbles and canapés on the house and most probably a local liqueur after dinner. In America after-dinner coffee comes from a bottomless pot. Drinks in Europe are of a similar price to here, the difference being that on the Continent a generous amount of alcohol is poured. Over here it is carefully measured into a thimble of ever-decreasing size. The cost of a reasonable dinner there is two-thirds of what it would be here and it comes with impeccable service.

Yes, we have the Scottish weather to contend with, but how many of us have been met with a cold, empty fireplace in a bar or restaurant in June or July when the rain and wind is sweeping through and a warming fire would be a joy? The last twice I have passed through Fort William there might as well have been a sign saying “Tourists not welcome here”. A friend of mine has been turned away more than once because he thoughtlessly expected to be served a lunch just after 2pm. In Rothesay in May virtually every tearoom and cafe was closed. Last September the only apparent cafe in Kirkcudbright closed at 3pm. Space constraints limit an endless lists of similar issues and it’s a list which long precedes Covid and Brexit.

Much of Scotland’s tourism woes are self-inflicted. It’s easy to blame Covid, Brexit, the Government and everything and everybody else but Scotland’s (and indeed the UK’s) hotels, restaurants, bars and transportation, businesses need to understand that they have to provide a level of service and cost comparable with what is available on the Continent (where they have had the same problems as we have) and to stop viewing the tourist as a cash cow from whom they can gouge more money for increasingly poor and reduced service.

How Mr Crothall can do this I don’t know given his list of problems. However, I do know this: unless his industry tackles it, people like me will vote with our feet. The welcoming arms of the Continent await.

Bob Buntin, Skelmorlie.


IT is reported that Police Scotland officers are to take industrial action in pursuit of a pay rise (" Government ‘took its eye off the ball’ as officers withdraw ‘goodwill’ today", The Herald, July 1) and as by law they are unable to strike, this will take the form of the withdrawal of goodwill, whatever that means.

How, you wonder, will the public be aware that this action is being taken by the police, as at present they very rarely turn out for a burglary or car theft and the only time you can really rely on seeing them is in your rear-view mirror should you overstep the speed limit? Still, at least the criminal fraternity will be even more secure in their chosen occupation, one which truly is a growth industry under this Scottish Government.

James Martin, Bearsden.


THE renaissance of Glasgow Queen Street station ("The story of Glasgow's shiny new gateway", The Herald Magazine, July 2) has at last brought the station frontage on to West George Street that, in 1842, was thwarted by Wardlaw's Church occupying the corner of what was to become Dundas Street and that given mention. This had been built in 1819 for the Scottish Congregationalists when their previous one in Albion Street became too cramped such was the numbers wishing to worship owing to the eloquence of the minister, Dr. Ralph Wardlaw (1779-1853), a prominent theologian who campaigned against slavery.

Six years later, in 1848, with church membership still growing, the Edinburgh & Glasgow Railway company paid the church £12,000 which enabled them to move to even larger premises at the corner of Pitt Street and Bath Street renaming themselves as Elgin Place Chapel.

The railway then took over the vacated church premises as offices which remained in such use until the autumn of 1964 when I, along with my fellow railway employees, moved to 45 Hope Street. On its subsequent demolition Consort House arose on the site.

In passing, I have been told that David Livingstone as a missionary student had preached within Wardlaw's Church under the tutelage of Dr Wardlaw.

John Macnab, Falkirk.


YOUR photograph of a floodlit Scotland Street School in 1984 ("Remember When... Floodlighting made Glasgow look miles brighter", The Herald, July 1) is very atmospheric The official after-dark Switching-On Ceremony could have been a damp squib as the floodlights used took 15 minutes to run up to full output. The project engineer came up with the ingeniously simple solution of switching the floodlights on early and concealing them in cardboard boxes, before the dignitaries assembled. The boxes were removed in unison by a team of operatives in radio contact with the engineer and the building dramatically illuminated just as the ceremonial switch was thrown.

Brian Kane, Glasgow.


IN defence of the matter-of-fact Mrs Thomson, whose dismay at world order was recalled by Robin Dow (Letters, July 1), the admirable creation of cartoonist Bud Neill also had her bright side, viz: “If there’s wan thing Mrs Thomson is, it’s optimistic, in’t it, Mrs T?”; also illustrated by the portrait of a smiling “Mrs Thomson officially opening the Toonheid windae-hingin’ ’ season”.

R Russell Smith, Largs.