TOURISM operators in the Tweed Valley hope to follow in the wake of Nessie by becoming a Business Improvement District.

Loch Ness became the first and, as yet, only tourist-focussed BID in Scotland almost four years ago.

But this week the Tweed Valley took a major step towards creating the second by creating a project coordinator post.

And they are now actively looking for someone to fill the vital role.

The post, which is for an initial 18-month period, will be taken up in April, with the successful applicant tasked with driving a collaborative effort to bring more tourism-related business to the Tweed Valley.

Catherine Maxwell Stuart, chair of the Tweed Valley Tourism Business Improvement Development (BID) Steering Group, said: "The overall vision of the Tweed Valley tourism BID is to position the area as a world-class cycling and outdoor activity destination, as well as to grow tourism visits and spend in the area through its promotion as a sustainable, year-round destination that capitalises on its unique geography, heritage, natural environment and people.

"This appointment follows initial seed-corn funding awarded to the Tweed Valley Tourist Consortium by the Scottish Government and Scottish Borders Council, announced in November last year.

"Once the project coordinator is in position, work will begin on contacting all relevant businesses in the area, collecting feedback ahead of creating a comprehensive business plan for the BID.

"The BID will include businesses in the Tweed Valley area which are directly involved in tourism, as well as those for whom visitors are an important part of their trading activity."

A BID steering group has already been established to help the new coordinator.

Representatives from several of the Tweed valley's hotels and attractions are on the group.

And additional help will be provided from BIDs officers from other areas as well as the local authority.

Further support will also be available from the Tweed Valley Tourism Consortium.

Ms Maxwell Stuart added: "Once the business plan is finalised, the BID proposal will be put to a vote for all the local businesses who may wish to become part of the project, with a ballot scheduled for autumn 2019.

"If approved, the scheme will enable Scottish Borders Council to collect a compulsory levy from all the businesses involved, to be invested in delivering the agreed plan."

Originally conceived in Canada during the 1970s, the BID concept has since been taken around the world, with more than 135 in the UK alone.

If approved, the Tweed Valley BID will become only the second such tourism-focussed BID in Scotland, following that of Visit Inverness Loch Ness in 2014.