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by Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland
11 October 2022
Associate Feature: Supporting Scotland’s tourism and events industry

Credit: VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

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Associate Feature: Supporting Scotland’s tourism and events industry

After two years of pandemic restrictions, the summer months saw some much-needed positives for tourism and events businesses, but we do know that challenges remain - particularly around current concerns on the cost of living and of doing business.

These present a major threat for the industry, especially while businesses are still recovering from the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many businesses are facing difficult decisions and are having to consider how they adapt their operations to manage increasing costs. It’s clear the coming months will be very hard.

Additional issues around labour shortage and supply chain issues mean that the sector is facing a perfect storm. The tourism and events industry has shown its resilience before, and I have no doubt it can do so again. But coming so quickly on the back of the COVID-19 pandemic, Governments and the sector will need to work quickly and collaboratively to weather the challenges.  

We’re supporting industry throughout the situation, using our corporate website to offer advice and guidance that will benefit tourism and events businesses in the short term, but also allow them to build a more sustainable future.  
Of course, it’s not just rising business costs to consider; we are likely to see a reduction in disposable income for our customers too.

Research among UK residents – our biggest market by visitor number - shows that while pandemic concerns are easing, these have been replaced by worries about the cost of living.  Nearly a quarter of the UK public state they have already been hit hard financially, and around half are “ok but have to be careful”, suggesting high levels of caution around personal finances and leisure spending.

At the same time, with the easing of travel restrictions and return of direct air routes earlier this year, we have seen strong pent-up demand for Scotland from our key international markets. North America is nearly back to pre-pandemic levels and there are healthy bookings with travel operators for 2023. Compared to domestic visitors, visitors from the US typically stay in Scotland for longer and will spend more when they are here.

Ongoing promotion to key audiences in domestic and international markets is increasing awareness and consideration of Scotland as a destination. We’ve been running our £8.5million Scotland is Calling campaign to support the tourism industry and make sure that Scotland is the destination of choice for our international visitors.

Our campaign has been running in key markets such as the US, France, Germany, and the UK working with global brands like National Geographic, Expedia, and Facebook, with activity designed to inspire and ultimately convert visitors to Scotland.

The benefits of the visitor economy are well-documented. Based on pre-pandemic figures, tourism supports 15,000 businesses and 230,000 jobs. For every £50,000 spent by visitors in Scotland, a new job is created in Scotland and tourism accounts for 8.5% of all jobs.

We welcome the news that Tourism Minister Ivan McKee MSP will co-chair a new Industry Leadership Group to support the tourism and hospitality sector and drive our ambition to be a world leader in 21st century tourism.

Tourism is a force for good which creates jobs, sustains communities and contributes significantly to the economy.

There is a need to support our industry now, in these difficult times, to protect it and secure its benefits for the future. Working with Governments and politicians, we want to see a thriving, responsible tourism and events industry which can deliver positive benefits for Scotland.

Malcolm Roughead OBE is Chief Executive of VisitScotland

This article is sponsored by VisitScotland

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Read the most recent article written by Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland - Associate Feature: Tourism: an economic and social powerhouse for Scotland.

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