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Article published 03/03/2022

To mark World Book Day during the Year of Stories 2022, we've released new insights into the importance of storytelling in tourism. 

A research paper on the subject highlights how Scotland’s stories can have a positive impact on our tourism industry. 

The paper discusses how the use of stories by destinations and tourism businesses is on the increase. From the verbal tradition to the written word and prose, through film and television and now the digital world and its user generated content and influencers stories, storytelling continues to inspire visitors to travel to Scotland.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there were more than three million visits to literary attractions across Scotland (2013-2019). Figures released by the Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism Business Development at Glasgow Caledonian University detail visitor numbers to places with literature links including Abbotsford – The Home of Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, the Grassic Gibbon Centre, the Writers’ Museum, JM Barrie’s Birthplace, Scott Monument and Burns Monument Centre.  

Our Soul Seeking in a Destination – the Importance of Storytelling in Tourism research paper explores consumer demand for meaningful engagement with specific destinations as part of a holiday or short break. For example, through opportunities for immersive and authentic storytelling. 

We're encouraging tourism businesses and organisations to use storytelling and Scotland's Year of Stories 2022 as a focus for this year's activity. The research suggests ideas which range from using visitor feedback to shape a strong narrative for social media channels to engaging with locals to find lost traditions and history that connect place and past. Understanding how local visitors and international visitors will react differently to the same story is another potential way to engage with storytelling.

To support Scotland's Year of Stories 2022, there's a rich programme of events for 2022 where stories are shared and celebrated, including more than 60 book and literary festivals which have received funding from this themed year. 

Scotland's Year of Stories 2022

"Stories and storytelling have been at the heart of the tourism experience from the start.

They engage locals and visitors on many levels but need to be based on key factors such as people, history, landscape – all of which Scotland boasts in abundance.

In the age of saturated social media, brands and destinations need to attract people’s attention and reach their hearts. They must be able to tell a remarkable story and develop emotional connections, to stand out in a sea of content and advertising.

Scotland’s Year of Stories helps the country stand out as it draws on the wealth of literary traditions and storytelling to highlight the characters, landscapes, and legends which visitors may already be aware of, along with the infinite potential of generating stories about Scotland’s future through sustainability, nature, and the voices of the generations.

This year provides a prime opportunity for tourism businesses, attractions, and events to tell their own unique stories and shape their brands in a way that appeals to visitors, both local and international. As the tourism industry starts to recover from the devastation of COVID-19, finding ways to position Scotland as a unique and special holiday choice is vital.

This is because tourism is not just a holiday, it is a force for good, creating economic and social value in every corner of Scotland and enhancing the wellbeing of everyone who experiences it.

Chris Greenwood, Senior Tourism Insight Manager at VisitScotland

Stories are what bring us together and create our sense of identity. Nothing demonstrates this better than the legacy of Sir Walter Scott. The world’s best-selling author in the early 19th century set imaginations aflame with his tales set in Scotland’s rugged landscapes and historic ruins; especially Rob Roy, Waverley, Heart of Midlothian.

These romantic tales put Scotland on the world map and found their way into our nation’s heart, so much so, that many of the images we think of when we think of Scotland owe their origins to his storytelling. Go on, discover them for yourself, you’ll love them.

Giles Ingram, Chief Executive of The Abbotsford Trust

When our visitors arrive home again, we hope they will share a story of their time here with their friends and family. Maybe about the welcome they received, or the people they met; the stories they heard and the stories they told. Stories are a way of connecting with people and helping them create memories they can share with others. That’s what we love to do, share stories and share experiences.

Daniel Abercrombie, Programme & Events Manager at Scottish Storytelling Centre

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