Associate Feature: Supporting tourism and events this summer
There is cautious optimism for tourism and events businesses; after a lot of uncertainty, the industry is preparing for what is set to be the first full summer of trading since 2019.
While the current economic situation means challenges remain, there is a general desire from both visitors and industry to return to some kind of normality.
From top-class attractions, award-winning food and drink, exciting events, high quality accommodation providers and breath-taking scenery, tourism is a vital part of our economy; it creates jobs, sustains communities and enriches our lives.
A recent survey of Scotland’s residents found that 87% rated tourism as the most important industry – higher than any other – in terms of its value to the economy. 87% of those living in tourist areas also believe that tourism will help support local recovery from the effects of the pandemic.
People in Scotland still have a key role to play in helping businesses get back on their feet. And there is no better way to understand the value of the industry and its appeal than to take in what’s on your doorstep.
Of course, the return of international visitors will also be important for the long-term recovery of the industry. Our overseas visitors spend more and stay longer; giving us a great opportunity to encourage regional and seasonal spread. In 2019, Scotland welcomed 3.5 million international visitors who generated 43% of the total tourism spend that year.
Our activity to engage with international visitors, even when travel wasn’t possible, should benefit Scotland against competitor destinations in the long run. Activity including our £8.5 million Scotland Is Calling campaign sought to capitalise on pent-up demand as we encouraged people to make Scotland their first-choice destination when they could travel internationally again.
Research has shown that post-covid consumers are looking for emotional experiences, in-the-moment moods and to understand the impact of their actions – on the people around them and the world. All drivers which Scotland is well placed to capitalise on.
Tourism brings many benefits which is why its responsible recovery is so important. But things can’t and won’t be exactly as before. Scotland’s National Tourism Strategy Outlook 2030 is about making places better for people to live and visit by managing tourism’s economic, environmental and social impact.
VisitScotland wants to make sure we help people know what to expect before they explore Scotland. That’s why our new campaign offers people advice about how to keep Scotland unspoiled when out and about. This dedicated activity supports wider work by VisitScotland and our partners to address irresponsible behaviour in some visitor hotspots.
We really want visitors to ‘know before they go’ when it comes to travel; checking what is open and how busy places are before they make a trip. We’re encouraging them to think about water safety, littering, camping and following the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
While there are clear signs that we can start to be positive again about the outlook for tourism, we must also acknowledge that tourism won’t be without challenges, not least the labour shortage and rising costs for tourism businesses and customers alike. We need to ensure this skills gap does not restrict the recovery and progress towards the ambitions of Scotland Outlook 2030. Solutions will require collaborative working between Government’s and the sector.
VisitScotland along with partners in STERG are already working on a range of initiatives to develop skills and talent as well as promoting the industry as a career of choice following the #LoveWhatYouDo recruitment campaign last year. This includes a Tourism and Hospitality Talent Development Programme and Scottish Leadership Programme delivered as part of the Tourism Recovery Programme. Ongoing work includes work with Springboard, and the Hospitality Industry Trust, and the development of a tourism induction toolkit.
With concerted action and collaborative effort, we can remain optimistic about the prospects for tourism this summer and beyond.
This article is sponsored by VisitScotland.