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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 07/01/2020

485 struggling families have received a vital break thanks to the generosity of Scotland’s tourism industry through inclusive tourism programme ScotSpirit Breaks.

The ScotSpirit Breaks, a nationwide programme coordinated by the Family Holiday Association, with our support, has continued to help people across the country with a 14% increase in the number of families getting time away compared with 2018.

Collaboration is at the heart of the project and thanks to the generosity of 60 partners across Scotland’s tourism industry, who donated accommodation, transport, meals and visitor attraction access, over 1,800 people were able to experience a much-needed break in 2019.

All families helped were referred by a professional working with them in a supporting role like a teacher, social worker or health visitor. All of these families are on low income, with many facing some of the toughest challenges life can bring such as adverse health, inadequate housing, domestic violence or bereavement.

Over one in three people in Scotland are unable to take a break and over 250,000 children live in relative poverty. We launched the ScotSpirit Breaks in 2016 to explore how the tourism sector could contribute to social inclusion and help tackle this issue.

The project has delivered a considerable impact for over 6,000 people in Scotland, giving 1,627 families the opportunity to participate in tourism for the first time. A survey of families who received the breaks found that 97% got to visit a part of Scotland they had never seen before and 90% said they could cope better after the experience.

Together with the Family Holiday Association we're now looking forward to 2020, where we hope to gain the support of more tourism partners across the country and help more families get that fundamental break that will mean so much to them.

Holidays can be a welcome respite for many families and we know there are lots of benefits to taking a break, particularly for our mental health. 91% of families say they are better able to cope and are more optimistic about the future after a holiday and it also helps people to see parts of our country they otherwise may not have had the opportunity to.

ScotSpirit breaks is a wonderful example of public and private sector collaboration, and it’s heart-warming to hear of the many families who have benefitted from it. I look forward to continuing our work with VisitScotland in support of the Family Holiday Association, to ensure many more families who desperately need these breaks are able to take them.

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs

Our role has been to work with industry and public sectors alike in order to secure the breaks, collaborating with a wide range of accommodation, transport and visitor attraction providers across the country.

VisitScotland is committed to working with the tourism industry and strategic partners to ensure Scotland is an inclusive, welcoming destination for all. The impact for those who don’t have the opportunity for a break is huge and I’m thrilled to see it has been another successful year for the ScotSpirit Breaks.

I’d like to extend my thanks to the Family Holiday Association and all the industry partners whose hard work and generosity allow these breaks to continue and give so many families that much-needed break. We can now look forward to 2020 where we can work to help even more people across the country enjoy the benefits of tourism.

Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland Chief Executive

For over 40 years, the Family Holiday Association has provided breaks for families struggling with issues such as disability, severe and sudden illness, bereavement, mental health issues and domestic violence. The majority of the families it supports have never been on a family holiday.

We’re delighted that we’ve helped so many families get a break or day out in 2019 through the ScotSpirit Breaks project, helping to create memories that will last a lifetime.

Families have told us that their break made a big difference to mental health and helped to reduce isolation. We’re looking forward to working with partners across the Scottish tourism industry to help even more families in 2020.

John Kinnear, Head of Programmes at the Family Holiday Association

Find out more about how you can get involved with ScotSpirit Breaks here.