Hosts report decline in overseas visitors

HAWICK Welcome Hosts have reported that the number of overseas tourists and coach tours visiting the town has dropped this year.

However, following the end of another season, Hawick’s uniformed hosts have revealed that despite this decrease, they have actually greeted more people.

Coordinator Jack Yallop told the Hawick News: “Overseas visitors have dropped, especially from the USA, Germany and Holland, but there has been more UK visitors. And although we had a slow start the number of visitors welcomed by the Hosts is slightly up on last year.”

But Mr Yallop says with the number of tour buses “substantially down” on previous years, the Welcome Initiative aims to tackle the problem by sending its brochure to bus firms in a bid to promote the town.

“We are going to send a welcoming letter together with the brochure to various tour operators in Cumbria, Northumberland and Dumfries and Galloway, offering free parking and drop-off areas, and hope to attract more to return for day trips next year”, he stated.

The Hosts are also striving to boost Hawick’s tourism industry by lobbying the local authority to allow camper vans to stop overnight in a designated area in the Common Haugh.

Mr Yallop explained: “We have carried out market research on camper vans visiting the town, and asked drivers about being allowed to park overnight for a maximum of 48 hours, and the result was very positive.”

With such a plan hoped to benefit the town and businesses, the Welcome Initiative is due to meet with officials to discuss the proposal - which it is hoped would allow the vehicles between next Easter and September. But stressing the importance of the whole town working to attract visitors, Mr Yallop added: “We support all the events run by various groups, but we feel Hawick needs to improve its attractions. The Walled Garden should be returned to its former glory, and the flower beds brought back to their best. And full support should be given to Hawick in Bloom to get flowers and colour to our High Street.”

But with the Hawick Welcome Initiative brochure well received and supported this year, Mr Yallop says local businesses would certainly have been boosted.”

And he added: “Thanks again to all concerned, and we look forward to attracting more vistitors next year.”