By Mary Contini, author and director of Valvona & Crolla

A SLIP of a lass, I climbed up the stairs of the Nether Abbey Hotel, North Berwick, dragging a bag, spade, and pale, hugely excited to start my very first holiday.

To stay away from home, for three whole nights in a hotel, was an adventure beyond any stretch of my imagination.

Chasing along expanses of golden beaches, climbing up the Law to gasp at the view across the Forth, was mind blowing.

A never-ending knickerbocker glory in Luca’s ice cream parlour and a served hot breakfast of juicy pork sausages, crispy bacon and grilled tomatoes with racks of hot buttered toast have never tasted so good!

What a strong impression those three days made.

Long before cheap flights enticed us all around the world for less than the taxi fare to North Berwick, holidays at home were a well anticipated luxury for most.

Not only that, it was vital to the local economy.

The Glasgow Fair brought enough hordes of workers across to the east to bring enough cash for local businesses to survive right through until spring.

In recent times, as we have deserted our shores for sunnier climes, there have been hordes of overseas tourists who have been attracted to our treasures.

In response to this ever-increasing demand, our holiday industry has raised its game so much that Scotland has become one of the most popular tourist destinations of the world.

Last year, Edinburgh residents petitioned the council and tourist board that there were ‘too many visitors’ and ‘we want our city back to ourselves’.

Be careful what you wish for.

The tourists are not coming this year.

So, let’s not scan the papers desperately for news of flights to whisk us away for our continental fix.

Let’s just stay put and explore the great attractions of our beautiful country, right here on our doorstep.

The great food, hospitality and incredible countryside are second to none and will not disappoint.

Not only that, our cash will help keep our local businesses to survive… right through until spring.