Ray Lorimer: What would independence mean for tourism?

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Hospitality UK-wide is the fifth largest industry. In Scotland alone it sees 220,000 people directly employed and indirectly another 120,000 or 8.6 per cent of Scotland’s jobs.

A total of £4billion is contributed to the Scottish economy in wages and profits and by 2020 it is forecast that another 46,000 jobs can be created. Edinburgh, with Glasgow, is the largest local authority hospitality employer – employing more than 35,000 with more than 18,000 indirect, worth more than £1.4bn to Edinburgh’s economy in Gross Value Added (GVA).

So what would independence mean for Edinburgh and the Scottish food, drink and hospitality industry in general, feast or famine, boom or bust?

The Institute of Hospitality (IOH) Scotland believes open debate around that has been somewhat stifled and as such, has organised a debate at the National Museum in Edinburgh on September 18. Andrew Fairley, Scotland’s most famous two star Michelin chef, is leading the Yes side and is joined by Jim Mather and Jean Urquhart, representing a formidable team of pro-independence enthusiasts with past and present MSP status and also current commercial nous and clout.

Well-known Highland hotelier Beppo Buchanan-Smith is leading the Better Together side, with Jackson Carlaw and Tony Dumbreck providing a team witrh MSPs and the deputy leader of the Conservatives. Up for discussion are the six main questions affecting and impacting the industry in a Yes scenario – personal and industry taxes, salaries and pensions, alcohol and tobacco legislation, vocational educational, renewables, and currency. We’re confident of attendance from a good mix of industry leaders and hospitality students, whom the IOH views as having the most to gain in the long run.

• Ray Lorimer is chair of IOH Scotland - registration for the debate can be booked at www.cookschool.org via events.