Scotland’s tourist board says the industry is preparing for an “optimistic” summer season for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Visit Scotland regional director David McGlip believes residents have a “key role” in helping businesses get back to pre-pandemic normality.

He said: “There is cautious optimism in the air across the local tourism industry just now. After a lot of uncertainty, the industry is preparing for what is hoped, for many, to be the first full year of trading since the pandemic. 

“It’s been a difficult few years, and while the current economic situation will bring some fresh challenges for all, there is a general desire from both visitors and businesses to return to some kind of normality. 

“It’s great to see people venturing out and supporting their local tourism businesses.

"For example, the Loch Lomond Springfest returned this year, with a fantastic line up of food and drink producers, live entertainment, whisky and gin tastings, chef demonstrations and family activities.

"While the return of international visitors will be important for the long-term recovery of the industry, people in Scotland still have a key role to play in helping businesses get back on their feet.”

With Easter just around the corner, tourism is a vital part of West Dunbartonshire’s economy, and Mr McGlip outlined the type of attractions the area has to offer.

He added: “From top-class attractions, award-winning food and drink, exciting events, high-quality accommodation providers and breath-taking scenery, tourism is a vital part of our region’s economy, valued at over £440 million to Argyll & Isles, Helensburgh, Loch Lomond and Dunbartonshire pre-pandemic. 

"It attracts creates jobs, sustains communities and enriches our lives. 

“In fact, a recent survey of residents in Scotland found that 87 per cent of Scotland’s residents rated tourism as the most important industry – higher than any other – in terms of its value to the economy.

"Around 87 per cent of those living in tourist areas also believe that tourism will help support local recovery from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.  

“One of the things I would urge everyone to do this year is to be a tourist in their hometown.

"There is no better way to understand the value of the industry and its appeal than to take in what’s on your doorstep.

"Following one or more of the 5 Taste of Place Trails in Argyll is an excellent way of supporting local producers and suppliers and celebrating the region’s hospitality offering.

"Or try your hand at Pedaddling - hiking, biking and kayaking trails on Scotland’s Adventure Coast."

To find out more about what Visit Scotland has on offer this summer, check out the website here