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Article published 23/02/2024

Scotland’s communities are being invited to press pause and rethink how tourism plays out in their local area at the second National Community Tourism Gathering being staged by SCOTO, Scotland’s recently established Community Tourism Network.

Taking place in Dumfries, this two-day event will bring participants together from across Scotland and further afield to consider how tourism can be recalibrated to deliver for communities and the environment first.

SCOTO held its first conference in Kingussie in March 2023 with over 100 participants. This year the conference has been made possible with the support of the South of Scotland Enterprise, and the learning exchanges on day two are being funded by the Scottish Community Tourism Alliance with bursaries available for travel and accommodation costs for community organisations.

SCOTO’s second National Gathering takes place in Dumfries on Thursday 29 February and Friday 1 March.

Find out more about the event

Scoto event image

About the event

Day one

On the first day at the Cairndale Hotel, participants will engage in talks, discussion groups and presentations on how individual communities have embraced tourism for their benefit and how they have tackled local pressures and impacts.

They will hear from local initiatives, including the Wigtown Book Festival, Spring Fling, The Stove and the Whithorn Way. They will also hear different perspectives on community tourism, including a talk from the Royal Society of Edinburgh who are shining a light on the pivotal role of the third sector in addressing societal challenges, fostering community well being and its contribution to the economy.

Wake-up workshops will be jointly delivered with the UNESCO Galloway and South Ayrshire Biosphere.

Day two

Following an informal supper with entertainment from Mostly Ghostly, the second day has six optional learning journeys exploring community initiatives in and around Dumfries.

Choices will include visiting and meeting the teams at the Devil’s Porridge Museum in Annan, The Moffat Dark Skies Observatory, Crawick Multiverse near Sanquhar, The Old School in Thornhill, Loch Arthur Farm Shop and Café, and The Usual Place in Dumfries.

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We are so looking forward to our second national Gathering in Dumfries and sharing all that has been happening over the last 12 months – and what it could mean for the future.

From a standing start last summer, we have piloted our new press pause approach with the North Highland Initiative working with local business and community interests in Thurso and Lochcarron.

We have now supported 13 communities across Scotland and the Gathering is a chance to share and inspire other communities to get off the treadmill and press pause to better understand how tourism can be recalibrated to support local well being.

Carron Tobin, Executive Director of SCOTO

It is a pleasure to be asked back to chair this event. Community Tourism is a core part of our Scotland Outlook 2030 Tourism Strategy.

Our future approach is about shared value to ensure that the benefits of tourism are experienced by our communities. So that our visitors enjoy enriched experiences delivered by proud and passionate people who live and work in Scotland’s communities.

Marc Crothall, MBE and CEO of the Scottish Tourism Alliance

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