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Visit Scotland | Alba

Moment for change | Working with communities

As lockdown restrictions gradually begin to ease in Scotland, community engagement is vital if we are to successfully navigate our way through the COVID-19 crisis with positivity for the future. The need to listen – to tourism businesses and the voices from the communities in which they exist – has never been greater, to ensure we strike the right balance.

It’s natural for there to be some anxiety about welcoming visitors across Scotland, but this must be weighed up against a tourism industry, which is in a desperate situation and needs to get business back on track. We must have a collective response which starts in local areas and our regional teams will help facilitate these discussions.

People come to Scotland because of the friendliness of our people.  A warm Scottish welcome is crucial, it’s one of the top reasons for visiting, and Scots are proud of opening their arms to visitors.

Read our Chief Executive Malcolm's full thoughts within his LinkedIn blog.

Case studies

The priority now is to reset tourism in a responsible way; to work with communities to ensure that visitors and locals can both have a fantastic experience, with enough resources for both.

These conversations are already happening. Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) are looking at ways to support not just their members, but also the local communities in which these tourism businesses exist.

Here are some examples:

Measures of reassurance

It's vital communities feel comfortable with tourism again – they need to love it and to own it – because the benefits tourism brings is immense and crucial to the sustainability of many communities. There are several measures to help give reassurance:

  • Clear guidance to allow for tourism businesses to open in a safe and responsible manner and ensure the wellbeing of staff and visitors.  The tourism industry is taking a responsible attitude to ensuring opening is done in a safe way. Take a look at Get Tourism Ready.
  • The recovery of tourism will come in a phased and gradual approach and won’t happen until we can start to balance supply and demand. We’ll be working with businesses to ensure visitors can access information on what stage they’ll be able to take a local trip or explore further on VisitScotland.com.
  • We won’t be marketing areas until confidence has returned and the science says it’s time to welcome back visitors. Our marketing activity gives further reassurance with holidaying locally a big part of it. Take a look at our strategy.

Tourism is a force for good, providing economic benefits, jobs, and is an integral part of the community – helping to combat depopulation and creating a feeling of wellbeing across Scotland.

The ripple effect of tourism is felt across lots of non-tourism businesses from the local butcher supplying meat to a hotel to the local florist providing table settings for an event.

Building trust, recovering communities – the role of tourism

Our Senior Insight Manager Chris Greenwood looks at the community impact of tourism and points to some of the best practice coming from other countries.

The trends are becoming clearer and are evolving from signals observed over the past few years. The new normal post COVID-19 will find consumers seeking travel with purpose.  Visitors want to support a tourism industry that support communities.

This may be through volunteer tourism at one extreme and visitors demonstrating their commitments to travel impact through their actions such as rewilding initiatives or sustainable travel choices through to recognition of operators preferences to local suppliers, collaborative activities within destinations which encourage longer stays, higher value but lower volume experiences.

It is clear that while we all adapt to the world today and the unprecedented changes we have witnessed, care will be the new service standard and operators and destinations will need to behave as responsible members of society demonstrating care for people in general, not just their own customers.

Read the full blog.