Hawick has received a ringing endorsement from a leading light in the American tourism industry.
Mary Lou Yeager, president of Virginia-based tour operator Royal Travel Center, visited the town on Monday morning, and was shown around knitwear firm Hawico’s Trinity Mills factory.
Miss Yeager, who told the Hawick News she had been an avid owner of cashmere jumpers – including several made by Pringle – since her high school days, wanted to see for herself how top-quality garments were made, with a view to including mill visits on several of her tour itineraries.
She said: “I really enjoyed my trip to Hawick on Monday, and Hawico certainly had the wow factor.
“I’ve now got a much greater appreciation and understanding of what constitutes luxurious sweaters such as those produced by Hawico.”
Miss Yeager, who specialises in arranging custom-designed tours of Scotland for groups and individuals, added: “For sure we will include Hawick and the factory visit.
“Someone also pointed out while the golfers are busy, the non-golfers can spend a lovely and fun day in the special town of Hawick.”
Councillor Stuart Marshall, who along with fellow member Watson McAteer had helped broker Ms Yeager’s visit to Hawick, said it had been a huge success and he was indebted to hosts Hawico.
He added: “I was delighted to welcome Mary Lou, a huge player in American travel circles, to our town on Monday and I was particularly impressed at how interested she was in the workforce at Hawico and the various skills involved in producing their garments.
“Before leaving the town Mary Lou assured me that her company will now seek further dialogue with both SBC and myself in order to help promote our town in the States and it really was heartening to hear such a commitment coming from her.”
Derick Tait, chairman of Future Hawick, the town’s regeneration body, told us: “It was a really good hour spent promoting the town and the quality we produce.
“Mary Lou certainly seemed interested in the knitwear manufacturing process and I got the impression that this could be a winner as far as her tour organisation goes, given her acknowledgement that most tours out of Edinburgh head north.
“There’s a market for Hawick there and hopefully Mary Lou and others will take advantage of the situation.”