A PRESTIGIOUS travel guide has said the independence debate is a reason to travel to southern Scotland - in a major boost to the region's tourism.

Lonely Planet urged travellers to visit the Borders to “contemplate the future of the entire UK”.

The recommendation said: “With the debate about Scottish independence showing no sign of cooling, exploring the borderlands is a great way to contemplate the future of the entire UK as well.”

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The guide’s comments came as it named the Scottish Borders as one of the world’s best places to visit in 2023 – even saying travellers should go there instead of the Highlands.

In what will come as a major boost to the area's tourism sector, the guide included the region in its Travel 2023 round-up guide, featuring 30 "must-see" travel destinations across the globe.

Other locations named in the category include New Mexico, Marseilles, El Salvador and Dresden.

The independence debate wasn’t the only reason listed by the guide for people to visit the Borders, highlighting Eyemouth as a place for visitors to “look out for adorable grey seals in the harbour”, while also recommending the historic guest house the Ship’s Quarters.

The independent shops in Kelso and the town’s abbey also get shout-outs, as does Abbotsford House, the home of Sir Walter Scott.

Travellers were also advised to “enjoy a day of fresh air and fantastic food” in Melrose, adding: “Start by fuelling up with coffee and brunch at the small local cafe Apples for Jams, before visiting Trimontium Museum, which tells the story of the vast Roman fort site discovered nearby”.

Other highlights featured in the guide include Traquair House, a trail across the Eildon hills, Jedburgh Castle Jail – and fish and chips from Giacopazzi’s in Eyemouth.