Over the last few weeks, communities across East Lothian have welcomed the full return of local galas and other community days. After two years of being cancelled or scaled back, their return has given communities, especially children and families, a significant boost.
I know from my own family’s experience how important these traditional festivals are for the cohesion, pride and confidence of communities. The excitement they bring for our children is wonderful to see, particularly after missing out on so much over the last couple of years.
For all these reasons I have tabled a motion at Holyrood recognising the return of galas, as well as the dedication of the committees, other volunteers, families and businesses who help make them happen. I hope they can now go from strength to strength and that our communities can keep these important local events running for many years to come.
With the school holidays underway East Lothian will be welcoming more visitors and holiday-makers enjoying everything our beautiful county has to offer. This will be good for local businesses, especially because of the hardship faced by so many in the tourism and hospitality sector during the pandemic.
However, we know from the increase in domestic holidays over the last couple of summers that more visitors can also bring more challenges. Some of these, such as wild camping and water and fire safety, are of real concern for the wellbeing of visitors, local people and our natural environment.
Local authorities, Police Scotland and other agencies have worked hard to respond to the challenges presented by the increased number of visitors, but we can still do more to help ensure people have the skills and knowledge to be able to enjoy the outdoors responsibly.
That is why I am pleased to support VisitScotland’s responsible tourism campaign to enhance visitor management and safety this summer. Businesses, visitor attractions and communities can find out more at www.visitscotland.org/supporting-your-business/responsible-tourism.