Is Montrose an industrial town, a tourist destination or a bit of both?
Debate sparked at a meeting of Montrose Together Partnership as to whether the burgh is solely an industry centre or if it is a place where visitors want to come to our shores.
Councillor Bill Duff believes Montrose thrives on industry and not tourists.
He told us: “Times have changed since families came to Montrose to spend a week or a fortnight by the seaside. Foreign holidays are now much more affordable.
“Montrose’s role in the current tourism market is attracting couples in their 50s or 60s who want a short break to perhaps fish, golf or visit heritage sites.
“Montrose is not Crieff or Aberfeldy or Pitlochry or Oban, all of which have significant tourist facilities and where a sizable proportion of the population works in the tourism sector.
“Hence my statement that Montrose is an industrial town, evidenced by a successful working port, busy oil related engineering enterprises and a pharmaceutical plant.
“The hotels in Montrose thrive by servicing industry not tourists. There are few bed and breakfast premises.”
He added: “Undoubtedly we could improve our facilities for tourism but it is unlikely ever be a major part of the town’s economy.”
Jane Watson, treasurer of Montrose Together, who runs Mum’s of Montrose and Auntie’s Parlour at the Traill Pavilion, says a “30 year mind set” about Montrose not being a tourist town needs to change.
She said: “I am astonished to discover that Montrose is not regarded as a tourist destination. It is an area of natural outstanding beauty which in itself is worth tourist attraction.
“There is the most glorious beach, the foothills and the Basin. The historical value of Montrose cannot be ignored along with the beautiful wide High Street.
“It is now clear why the Corner House Hotel has fast become an eyesore with, I suspect the beautiful buildings of Sunnyside Hospital soon to join it. They could both become essential for tourism if they were turned into boutique or top class accommodation for visitors.
“Since acquiring our iconic Traill Pavilion, I implemented a visitor book and have, in the seven weeks of opening, had comments from all corners of the globe and visitors from Argentina to New Zealand, as well as from all over Scotland, England and Wales - many of whom would have enjoyed a stay in Montrose but were unable to find accommodation. Without exception, visitors have loved Montrose.
“The injection of tourism spending, be they day trippers or longer stay tourists, enables businesses, large and small, to keep the cash flowing to try and ensure we don’t have the empty shops blighting us.
“This is not rocket science, support the local area to ensure its continuity for longevity.”
Alan Doe, chairman of Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre, said: “Up until about five or six years ago I would have said it was an industry town but now with the work that we are doing down here and other places, such as the House of Dun and the Caledonian Railway, we have seen a boost of tourists.
“There has got to be jobs and prospects for the people living here but there also has to be attractions to bring people to the town.”
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