Inspirational stories from our tourism industry
Back in April 2020, in the early days of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic lockdown, Scottish tourism businesses and attractions responded with amazing resilience and innovation. On this page, we share just a snapshot of the great work and virtual experiences that were offered in the months following the lockdown announcement.
Businesses and attractions helped to give vital entertainment to people at home, supported parents with home-schooling, helped to protect our local communities and ensured they were keeping front of mind with current and future fans of Scotland.
We know these experiences and events were replicated in regions across the country:
Some examples from the north of Scotland, including our islands:
- Speyside Wildlife started a live #dailybirdsong every day on Facebook, bringing the local area to followers.
- Deeside Distillery used its gin to make hand sanitiser for local charities and frontline services struggling to source any.
- Isle of Harris Distillery produced hand sanitiser to help support local businesses. It also released a second online album on Spotify, The Harris Ceilidh #02, and the first in a series of short films, Harris Pause #01, to help future visitors find a moment of mindful connection with the Outer Hebrides.
- Ortak, in Orkney, offered a free grocery service to supply essentials to the local community who cannot access shops and served up to 150 people in their local community with the help of Orkney Football Club. They also offered free delivery of hand sanitiser provided by Deerness Distillery.
- Orkney Distilling (Kirkjuvagr Gin) donated 1,000 litres of hand gel to locals, and those further afield through donations to ferry services, hospitals, coast guards and Search & Rescue teams across the UK.
- Zoe Davidson Jewellery, in Orkney, launched a facebook campaign to shine a light on key workers in the UK.
- The Papay Ranger created virtual tours of Papay, Orkney, which are available on Vimeo.
- Orkneyology, the storytelling site, posted stories by storyteller Tom Muir under Tales for Troubled Times.
- Fèis Rois, a Highland based traditional music festival, took its 30th anniversary festival online. In May, Scotland’s top musicians and singers entertained as part of the Virtual Fèis Rois via Facebook Live.
- Shetland Arts hosted its regular programme of wellbeing activities online to help boost spirits. In April, the Wellbeing Choir entertained via Facebook Live.
- MacGregors Bar in Inverness hosted Facebook Live sessions #liveatfive. These included online pub quizzes, traditional music sessions and storytelling from the Thistle award-winning business.
- Aberdeen-based Boozy Events brought cocktail making experiences to your livingroom after launching a new online mixology masterclass. Boozy Events: To Your Door shook things up for those looking for something different to do during isolation.
Innovative examples from the east of Scotland:
- Pitlochry Festival Theatre launched an entertainment programme for all ages. #PFTLightHopeJoy entertained audiences in isolation with demonstrations and performances.
- Blair Drummond Safari Park did weekly Facebook live sessions . Viewer learned more about the animals and how keepers look after them.
- Etape Caledonia launched the Virtual Etape Caledonia. This new event, based on the annual live event, took place in May in support of The NHS Charities COVID-19 Appeal and Marie Curie.
- While V&A Dundee was closed, fans were still able to enjoy the museum online, accessing learning resources, challenges and stories.
- Museums of the University of St Andrews launched online workshops through Facebook, including experiments, stories and crafts.
- Farms across Scotland, including Belkello Farm (Dundee), Newton Farm Holidays (Angus) and Ardross Farm Shop (Fife), took part in virtual tour including #Lambathon and ‘Welcome to my Farm’. These ran on Go Rural Scotland on Facebook Live with a different farm broadcasting each day.
From Dunbar to Kirkcudbright, find out what businesses are doing across the south of Scotland:
- In replacement of its regular farm tours, Jacksons at Jedburgh provided virtual farm tours and shared photos and educational information on Facebook.
- Tour company Mary's Meanders, based in Linlithgow, launched a virtual Outlander locations tour delivered via Zoom.
- The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh created a Virtual Spring by sharing images and films of its four Gardens – Edinburgh, Benmore, Dawyck and Logan – online via its website and social media platforms.
- On Friday 27 March Ten Hill Place in Edinburgh opened its doors to NHS staff for free. It had over 1,000 nights booked, accommodating over 200 key workers.
- The Station House Cookery School in Kirkcudbright offered a free cookery advice helpline, providing online food orders for collection and launched a new recipes and factsheets section on its website.
- Dynamic Earth launched #DynamicEarthOnline helping families get involved with new and exciting challenges.
- While all Invisible Cities tours were suspended, the team at Invisible (Edinburgh) created a virtual tour to enjoy from the comfort of our home.
- Belhaven Bikes in Dunbar offered a free bike hire service to NHS staff and other key workers.
- Edinburgh School of Food & Wine made around 500 meals a day from its kitchen facilities to send to people in need, to support Edinburgh Food Social.
And there's lots going on across the west of Scotland too:
- Red Bus Bistro launched its popular afternoon tea for collection and delivery in Glasgow. It also held virtual whisky experiences – pairing Scottish dishes with malt whiskies and delivering them to customer’s doors.
- Mackintosh at the Willow added weekly historic blogs to its website and created a new Home Sweet Home page sharing different Mackintosh recipes each week.
- Maid of the Loch, Loch Lomond’s paddle steamer, launched a virtual cruise to celebrate the anniversary of her first ever public cruise on 25 May 1953. Virtual voyagers were able to step back in time and experience the joys of the ‘bonnie banks’ from this historic steamship.
- Yellow Hare Café on Tiree launched a baking delivery service, with home baking being delivered across the UK. More than 250 boxes were baked and delivered within the first month of this new service, reaching locations as far as London and Devon!
- Glasgow Science Centre brought science into people’s homes every day with GSC at home across its social media channels.
- Once Upon a Whisky, which normally operates whisky and beer tours in Glasgow and Edinburgh, launched virtual whisky tastings evenings.
- Stanelydrive, a Renfrewshire-based chauffeur travel company, supported Accord Hospice by offering its V Class Mercedes (normally used for tours and transfers) to help maintain the vital patient services the Hospice provides within the community. By removing the middle row of seats, a two-metre safe distance between the driver and patient was created, maintaining physical distancing, and allowing patient transfers so that treatment can continue.
- The Coig, touring routes around the Clyde coast and islands, started a #SaveYourFaves campaign to provide future visitors with inspiration to make plans once the travel restrictions eased.
- The Laird’s Table Restaurant at Craufurdland Country Estate introduced hampers and homemade ready meals for takeaway and offered a home delivery service locally on weekends.
- Although Islay's annual Fèis Ìle festival was cancelled for 2020, Kilchoman Distillery brought Islay to our homes on 28 May with tasting packs, live online events, whisky giveaways and video updates.
- As a result of COVID-19, Downtown CityMaps took their guides online to continue to fly the flag for destinations and keep businesses on the radar of future visitors, especially domestic travellers. As lockdown restrictions ease, the guides are now being regularly scanned from a network of download points using Dynamic QR Codes in partner locations such as hotels, transport hubs and high street locations.
A big thank you
We want to thank all of these businesses, and the many more across the country, for the amazing work you did and continue to do during these uncertain times. We appreciate that you have and continue to face your biggest ever challenge and we continue to work with industry to ensure the Scottish tourism industry recovers from this global pandemic.