Commissioner orders VisitScotland to release information

The Scottish Information Commissioner has criticised the national tourism agency, VisitScotland, ruling that the quango had breached the Freedom of Information Scotland Act (FOISA) by suppressing details of its contract with the private-sector company that runs the national tourism website (

The Commissioner, Kevin Dunion, rejected VisitScotland's contention that documents related to the partnership agreement that established Etourism Ltd, the now largely Austrian-owned company that runs, were exempt from disclosure because they contained "information provided by third parties" and that to reveal the details would constitute an "actionable breach of confidence on the part of VisitScotland".

In his ruling, Dunion described VisitScotland's interpretation as "straining the language" of the Freedom of Information Act, claiming that VisitScotland had deployed a legal technicality to avoid disclosing the terms by which it was obliged to serve the commercial interests of Etourism Ltd.

A spokeswoman for VisitScotland said that the agency was "disappointed" with the ruling: "VisitScotland withheld the information because there is, as is common practice, a confidentiality clause in the paperwork. We did ask the relevant parties if they were prepared to waive this clause, but this was unanimously not the case."

Dunion slams VisitScotland on dot-com deal (The Scotsman, 22 June 2007)

The ruling - Mr Alan Keith, Chairman of the Association of Dumfries and Galloway Accommodation Providers and VisitScotland (Scottish Information Commissioner's website)