Today I’m in London for one of my regular visits to promote Scotland as a great place to live, work and do business.
It’s an important part of my job – and it is made so much easier by the affection that so many people in the UK, Europe and around the world have for our country.
Only last week it was revealed that our tourism industry had more visitors from North America in the last twelve months than ever before – spending more money and providing a huge boost to our economy.
And further evidence of Scotland’s popularity with tourists was provided by Rough Guide’s decision to rank us second in their list of the top ten places in the world to visit this year.
That’s a huge recognition not just of our amazing scenery, our people and our many attractions, but also our reputation as an open and welcoming country.
There was more encouraging news for our economy this week when Scotland Food and Drink predicted that the industry would need to take on 27,000 new employees in the next ten years and our manufacturers reported a boost in orders at the end of last year.
Tourism, food and drink, manufacturing – these success stories are a reminder of just a few of the real strengths of Scotland’s economy.
I know that as a government we have a huge contribution to make to keeping our economy on track and I’m determined to work with business to do that.
For me it isn’t a competition between supporting business and supporting public services – we have to do both. After all a growing economy means more resources to invest in our NHS and our schools.
That’s why we’re investing in new roads, rail and broadband across the country – so no matter where you are in Scotland, you have the access you need to get to work or to grow your business.
It’s also why I announced a £500 million Scottish growth scheme to help businesses access the finance they need to expand and take on more people – the details are now being finalised and the scheme will open later this year.
And it’s why we’re investing in apprenticeships and transforming our colleges to give people the right skills to get good jobs.
But it’s not just the investment we make in infrastructure or skills that makes Scotland an attractive place to live and work in.
The quality of life we offer, the services we provide and the importance we attach to issues like tuition-free higher education, personal care for our elderly, prescriptions free at the point of need, paying the Living Wage and increasing childcare are all hugely important to attracting people to Scotland and helping to create new jobs.
To put it simply, if you are a taxpayer in Scotland you get more for your money, a much better deal, than anywhere else in the UK – and that’s a strong selling point.
– This article originally appeared in the Daily Record.