The new Borders Railway has brought a huge tourism boost with a 20 per cent rise in visitors to some attractions and shop takings doubling.

The news comes after VisitScotland launched a three-year international marketing campaign to attract tourists from around the world.

Since the route was re-opened by the Queenwith an historic steam journey along the 30-mile, £350 million line in September, visitors from America, Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy and the UK have stepped on board.

They have stayed in accommodation nearby and visited the attractions ranging from Melrose Abbey and Abbotsford House to the National Mining Museum Scotland and Rosslyn Chapel.

VisitScotland said four out of five shops in Galashiels reporting takings to have doubled.

There were also 17 sold out steam trains carrying around 6,200 passengers on special return journeys from Edinburgh to Tweedbank.

New passenger figures are due in the new year. By October 125,000 had travelled on the railway.

Sir Walter Scott's Abbotsford House reported an 18.4 per cent increase on 2014 visitor numbers.

There's also the £5.2m Galashiels Transport Interchange that forms a new bus station and business hub, and aims to direct footfall into the town centre.

Other facilities include a café, seating, tourist information, bus and train real-time information and a railway ticket machine.

It also has showers, changing facilities and bike lockers to promote cycling and walking.

Businesses in Galashiels have reported significantly increased activity since the railway opened, thanks to the TI directing people into the heart of the town.

David Houston of the Galashiels Chamber of Trade, who is also a member of the Community Stakeholder Group, said: “The majority of cafes and restaurants in the town have reported 50 per cent more trade.

"I have heard a number of comments from overseas visitors arriving in Galashiels who are impressed with the quality of the TI and were pleasantly surprised by the welcome.”

Below: Abbotsford House, Scottish Borders

Herald Scotland: Abbotsford House

Fergus Ewing, Tourism Minister, said the Borders Railway is "breathing new life into the region", adding that it "has clearly struck a chord with local communities and tourists from across the world alike providing them with opportunities to enjoy the many wonderful attractions and experiences the Borders has to offer and I look forward to its continuing success".

The original Waverley Route ran south from Edinburgh, through Midlothian and the Scottish Borders, to Carlisle.

The line was named after a series of novels by Sir Walter Scott and served as an important export channel for both the wool and coal industries of that time.

It was first fully opened in 1862 closed in 1969 as part of the Beeching cuts.

SOURCE: Herald Scotland

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