AS we emerge from the Covid-19 disaster all attention seems to be focused on how to get tourism back to where it was. That attitude ignores two serious problems. In the short term, tourism will suffer from people's reluctance to be closely packed in planes, trains, coaches or ships where viruses are easily transmitted. In the long term, burning fossil fuels in needless journeys and pumping more CO2 into the atmosphere will have to be curtailed in order to avoid climate chaos. The future for tourism is bleak.

Perhaps it is time to rethink our economy so that we no longer depend on wealthy visitors from other countries coming here for holidays? Surely our target now should be self-sufficiency in food and a stronger manufacturing base. Rather than hope we have wealthy visitors to give us some money to buy what we need, we should aim to stand on our own feet and produce what we need ourselves.

The population of the UK has grown to 68 million, up from 59 million in 2001. The UK is the most densely populated of the major countries of Europe and it imports some 50 per cent of its food. The UK Government is concerned about food security and is planning to increase local food production in order to reduce reliance on imports. The population of Scotland is likewise at an all-time high and food security should be a priority for the Scottish Government too.

Scotland is well placed to increase its food production. It has fertile land and good rainfall. Already, in response to the climate threat, people are eating less meat and so the Scottish Government should be encouraging a move to more arable farming. Subsidies could also be used to increase the amount of growing under glass, with geo-thermal heating to compensate for our cold winters. Jobs lost as tourism declines could be revived through such market-gardening schemes.

Like many other countries, Scotland has seen its manufacturing industries shrink as a result of globalisation. On top of that, EU rules have prevented state intervention to protect those industries. However, once we are out of the EU, there will be more opportunity for strategic Government investment in manufacturing. We need to produce more goods for export in order to pay for the imports which we desire. A thriving manufacturing sector would provide more opportunities for our young people, whether as employees or as entrepreneurs.

The economy is like a huge oil tanker. It takes time to change direction, so you cannot afford to wait until the last moment. That is why the Scottish Government should be looking ahead and taking stock of short-term and long-term risks. If the outlook for tourism is grim, then the Government should be moving to a different source of income as soon as possible.

Les Reid, Edinburgh EH15.

U-turn in relations

I READ with interest Alison Rowat's TV review ("IBM no more: How ‘Big Blue’ brought the good and bad times to Greenock", The Herald, May 27).

In the late 1970s I was part of a group of officers from Strathclyde Regional Council who were sent to IBM on a couple of training courses about their approach to quality management in organisations. Over lunch one day we were asking about visiting delegations from other IBM plants around the world. Our host told us the following tale.

A group of chief executives from around the world were being shown around the plant. Since it was a nice day our host’s boss suggested that she take them up to the top of Lyle Hill beside the Free French Memorial to see the wonderful vista of the Firth of Clyde and the mountains. While they were there she said to the group: "Now I think you will have to admit you won’t have seen such a wonderful view" to which she received a muted reply from one of the party, "Well, not from this elevation" but he refused to make any further comment. However, over dinner that evening and a few glasses of wine and a couple of drams the representative who made the comment, the Chief Executive of IBM Germany, after some persuasion eventually told the group he had been a U-Boat commander during the war and had managed to get up the Clyde in his boat as far as the anti-submarine boom which stretched from Cloch Point to Dunoon.

George McKenzie, Rothesay.

Save our Hamish

PLEASE, Mr Boz, don't banish the wee dug Hamish, as suggested by Steve Brennan (Letters, May 28 or if you do can I go with him to his isolated but'n'ben? He might make life a bit more of a puzzle than it is presently, but if you send a few clues now and again, then all should be well. Problem solved.

Thelma Edwards, Kelso.

The relief of golf

IT would be unwise for bowler Allan Halliday to cede Number 1 bragging rights over bladder control to golfers (Letters, May 28). The clue to the endurance credited to the latter lies in the different terrain: open and in full view in one, and great space, with usually varied flora, shrubs, and sometimes treelined, in the other.

Just don’t eat the brambles.

R Russell Smith, Kilbirnie.