Local visitors to be given a French welcome
An example of a French road sign, above. And, below, the current signs welcoming visitors to the Scottish Borders.
WHAT picture do you think best sums up the Scottish Borders?
Councillors on Scottish Borders Council's Executive Committee approved plans to improve road signs - now almost a decade old - welcoming visitors to the region when they met at local authority headquarters in Newtown St Boswells on Tuesday.
It has been proposed replacing the current "Welcome to the Scottish Borders" wording with an image, of for example a mountain biker or mill, to help give visitors a clearer identity of the area.
The project, which it is estimated could cost more than £100,000, has been welcomed by Clovenfords based Councillor Stuart Bell, the local authority's Executive Member for Economic Development.
He said: "We currently have a mixture of signs on different access routes to the Borders, some of which look a bit tired." But he added: "We'd like to give a consistant image of the Borders which shows visitors what the region has to offer."
An audit of tourism signage in the Scottish Borders was carried out earlier this year. It revealed some entrances to the Borders were "cluttered with damaged and non relevant signage".
And, in June, the local authority's Executive approved a recommendation by its Scrutiny committee that all promotional signage for the Scottish Borders at entry points on the A1, A7, A68, A72, and A703 should be improved.
The existing boundary entry signage was erected in 2003 using the Scottish Borders brand developed by a partnership of Scottish Borders Council, Scottish Borders Tourist Board, and other public sector partners.
The strap-line message 'Scotland's leading short break destination' was originally included underneath the signs, but was removed in 2011 because the message was no longer used by VisitScotland to promote the Scottish Borders.
It has been proposed that new larger signs been installed at Soutra, Carter Bar, Falahill, for example, while smaller signs be installed at the likes of Leadburn, Tweedswell, Dolphinton and Carlops.
In a report being presented to councillors, Sam Smith, the local authority's Economic Development Manager, said: "Most of the visitors to the Scottish Borders arrive by car. 'Advanced entry signage' helps provide these visitors with an initial impression of the area, and also enables road users to be given information about the name of the region they are approaching.
"Improving entry point signage would provide a better visual prompt to promote the unique Scottish Borders offering, using the space at these locations to promote the Borders on a larger scale.
"An example of entry point signage can be seen on French roads, where each region has a strong eye-catching image that relays something of the unique flavour of that region to the motorist. The imagery is simple, and the only text that exists is the name of the area they are entering.
"The Scottish Borders has many unique selling points, including heritage sites like Abbotsford, mountain biking and other outdoor pursuits, and textiles and knitwear."
And she added: "The project would investigate what single image or multipleimages could be used at each location, linked to national and regional branding."
It has already been mooted that new signage be installed to promote Eddleston as the home of the historic Polish map. And, if successful, the new signage could be rolled out across the Borders.
Councillor Bell said: "It's slightly complicated because some of those signs are on trunk roads where we will need to seek the approval of the trunk road contractor."
But he added: "I am very enthusiastic about the project. Anything which helps promote the Borders has to be welcomed."
This article appeared in Border Telegraph 19 Oct 12
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