What is social tourism?


At VisitScotland, we want to make it as easy as possible for people to discover Scotland.

As the national tourism body, it is our role to ensure Scotland is an inclusive, welcoming destination for all. The fact is, however, that in Scotland today, 1 in 3 people miss out on being a visitor in their own country due to disadvantaged backgrounds.


220,000 children in Scotland still live in relatively poverty, and there are a huge number of families in Scotland who consequently never experience even a short break.


This means that hundreds of thousands of families miss out on the great benefits a short break in Scotland can bring.

Cost is a major factor for many people, others are not able to participate due to ill-health or caring responsibilities. Some people lack the confidence whilst for others, staying within their own community is all they know.


Helping increase access to breaks for those who don’t currently take part is called ‘social tourism’. Research has shown that helping people access short breaks or days out can lead to an increase in self-esteem, expansion of social networks, skills development and improvements in mental health.


For supporting businesses, there are positive impacts such as enhanced business reputation, staff motivation, word of mouth and contributing to CSR commitments.


For the tourism industry more widely, we know from other countries where social tourism happens on a bigger scale that there are positive impacts on domestic tourism numbers, often helping address seasonality, support local year round employment.


Social tourism also has the potential to contribute to the Scottish Government’s strategy of making Scotland a more inclusive place to live and visit. 


We think you’ll agree a day out in Scotland is a special thing – and we’re delighted to be working in partnership with businesses and organisations across the industry to explore the potential of social tourism in Scotland.

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