Sir Tom Hunter has voiced his support for promoting Scotland more energetically on the global stage in order to attract inward investment and allow the nation to prosper. The prominent entrepreneur was speaking after the Scottish Affairs Committee published Promoting Scotland Internationally.

This report urges the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to set out a strategy outlining expectations for embassies to mark key national dates, such as St Andrew’s Day in November and Burns Night in January.

Such milestones, it said, should be the launch pads for profiling Scotland’s strengths in topical areas such as science, space and renewable energy.

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While the report found both the Scottish and UK governments already work collaboratively to promote Scotland’s international interests, it argued they could do better by highlighting modern sectors and innovative industries.

Joining Sir Tom in the debate on their Go Radio Business Show with Hunter & Haughey, Lord Willie Haughey commented: “The report is calling on the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and other parties at a UK-devolved level to move beyond the tartan.

“So should we shout more about our highly skilled workforce and leading sectors, such as the production of small space satellites, or should we lean into our cultural heritage connection?”

In response, Sir Tom noted, as a nation, we have to use all of the tools in our box, adding: “Of course, we must move beyond ‘tartan and shortbread’. Modern Scotland is a very different place.”

He pointed to the results of the Hunter Foundation’s Raising Scotland’s Economic Growth Rate’ report from Oxford Economics, which found much to recommend what Scotland has an offer.

“We’ve so much to promote in Scotland but we need to do it now,” he said, “because there was further evidence this week about the demographic time bomb. We have one million people in Scotland who are over 65 years of age and only 832,300 who are under 15 years.

“Why is that important? Well, for a start there are our pensions. If we don’t have more people coming into the working population to pay for the pensions of those who are retiring, it becomes a real drain on the national chequebook.”

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Lord Haughey argued: “Most of this is down to migration factors and the fact our indigenous population is dwindling. 

“If we want to grow – and we talk about the need for economic growth every week – obviously the key is to first grow your population then create opportunities for the people here to work and to add to the value to the GDP of the country.”

With foreign affairs being reserved to the UK Government, he added: “What I’d ask the Scottish Affairs Committee is how can we help lobby the Westminster Government to help Scotland be promoted as a modern nation in the way of giving us green status for tax status – to maybe follow the line that Ireland pursued way back when. I think that would help put us on the right track.”

Sir Tom noted some commentators had criticised the two entrepreneurs for “having a moan about this and moan about that”.

“However, Scotland’s a wonderful place to live and work in and there’s a lot of support for helping businesses start and grow,” he said. 

“I noticed, for example, that St Andrews is now deemed to be the best university in the UK, beating both Oxford and Cambridge, which is brilliant. The fact is we have a great university education system.

“I believe our primary and secondary education system could be better but it’s still very good.

“So we do have a lot to be thankful for. Of course, we need to keep pushing. We need to keep pushing what Scotland is and what it means to the world out there, in order to attract investment and let Scotland flourish!”