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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 12/05/2021

Emotional benefits of tourism

Our new research has shown almost a quarter (24%) of people from the UK and Ireland took a holiday in Scotland last year to specifically protect their mental health from the impact of COVID-19.

We've examined the emotional benefits of tourism such as alleviating stress, boosting confidence and increasing creativity. Our research has also shone a light on the travel motivations of visitors from the UK (including Scotland) and Ireland during the pandemic.

The insights come during Mental Health Awareness Week and highlight that taking a break can improve wellbeing. The annual event, run by The Mental Health Foundation, aims to help people focus on achieving good mental health, with this year’s theme being nature. People are encouraged to share images, videos, or just sound recordings of the nature on their doorsteps via social media.

Looking after mental health was a strong motivation amongst visitors aged under 45 with 42% taking a holiday or short break in Scotland because of this.

Our new Emotional Benefits of Tourism research paper explores how holidaying in Scotland can enhance visitors’ wellbeing and draws upon visitors’ key reasons for travelling to Scotland as restrictions eased last year.

Over half of people (53%) wanted to holiday in Scotland in 2020 because they needed a change of environment, followed closely behind by wanting to connect with nature/the outdoors (51%).

The emotional benefits of a holiday in Scotland highlighted in the research paper include how it fosters resilience, alleviates stress, increases creativity, boosts confidence and encourages empathy. The latter benefit is backed up by the fact that 36% of people holidayed in Scotland to support tourism businesses who had been suffering during the pandemic.

Previous qualitative research that we carried out found that visitors to Scotland imagine a holiday here will be an intense experience with the potential to profoundly move them emotionally. They expect to feel an emotional connection with Scotland, to feel at home and re-centred in their own lives and de-stressing and escapism are viewed as some of the key benefits of a Scottish holiday.

Scottish tourism businesses are being encouraged to use wellbeing as a focus for their activity going forward. Personalisation, developing emotional intelligence, and providing opportunities to give back in the business’ local community are just some of the ways to engage with emotional tourism suggested in the paper.

Post-lockdown, there will be a focus on improving our wellbeing and going on holiday or attending an event will prove popular ways to do that – when restrictions allow.

Our research has shown that protecting mental health and a need for change and connection are key motivators for holidaying in Scotland.

An overall emotional experience is critical for today’s visitors and is a powerful factor when choosing where to travel. Scotland, with its combination of nature, history and welcoming spirit ticks all the boxes when it comes to providing a sense of connection and enrichment.

Tourism is a force for good – creating economic and social value in every corner of Scotland and enhancing the wellbeing of everyone who experiences it. We all deserve a holiday, and Scotland, and all it offers, will be the perfect antidote after lockdown.

Chris Greenwood, Senior Tourism Insight Manager, VisitScotland

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