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Visit Scotland | Alba

In March 2021, the First Minister announced a new £25 million tourism recovery programme. The recovery proposals were developed by the Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group (STERG) in collaboration with members of the Tourism Task Force and represent initiatives which are over and above the scope of current public agency funding.

It’s the recommendation of STERG and the Tourism Task Force that these proposals will not only accelerate recovery in the short term, allowing tourism to once again contribute to communities and to the economy of Scotland, but will provide the foundation for a sustainable recovery of Scottish tourism in the medium to long term, setting us back on track towards the ambitions of Scotland Outlook 2030.

The Scottish Tourism Emergency response Group (STERG) is coordinating the delivery of these projects. The 10 recovery proposals are all at various stages of development and this page gives a brief status update:

  1. International demand building
  2. Destination and sector marketing fund
  3. ScotSpirit Holiday Voucher Scheme – social tourism
  4. Days Out incentive scheme 
  5. Visitor management strategic infrastructure planning and delivery 
  6. Tourism and Hospitality Talent Development Programme 2021/22 (phase two)
  7. Leadership development to boost product innovation
  8. Destination Net Zero 
  9. Scottish Tourism Observatory 
  10. Investment models to support Scottish tourism recovery 

1. International demand building

Key to being able to capitalise on future visits to Scotland in 2022 and beyond, is keeping Scotland top of mind for potential visitors. When people are pulling together their short list of places they want to visit first, when it is safe to do so, we want to ensure Scotland is on that list.

2. Destination and sector marketing fund

A targeted marketing fund to support destinations and sectors to deliver measurable increases in domestic visitors with a focus on making Scotland an attractive year round destination, increasing Scotland’s share of the domestic market, grow the shoulder months and continue to attract new audiences looking to enjoy sustainable holiday’s closer to home.

3. ScotSpirit Holiday Voucher Scheme – social tourism

VisitScotland is working with Shared Care Scotland, the regional Carer Centre Network and The Family Holiday Association to deliver a holiday voucher programme offering low income families and unpaid carers in Scotland a subsidised two to three night break or day visit in Scotland, while also supporting the tourism industry to recover by stimulating demand for accommodation and visitation to attractions during off peak periods.

4. Days Out incentive scheme

While there is evidence of pent up demand for holidays at home, our experience of 2020 highlighted strong interest in countryside activities with consumers more confident about being in open spaces. This is a trend we are now seeing repeated in 2021 which is having a negative impact on the attraction, activity and tour sectors.

5. Visitor management strategic infrastructure planning and delivery

A new Visitor Management Strategy has been developed by a cross agency Steering Group to ensure a co-ordinated approach to Visit or Management aligned to the vision of Scotland Outlook 2030. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in unprecedented visitor demand in many parts of Scotland, highlighting both the enormous potential of our tourism sector and significant challenges we face to develop the capacity of our current visitor infrastructure and services and to increase responsible enjoyment of the countryside.

6. Tourism and Hospitality Talent Development Programme 2021/22 (phase two)

A national, industry led, training and skills development programme, designed to motivate and develop top talent in order that we can recover from the significant impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had across the tourism and hospitality sectors in Scotland.

7. Leadership development to boost product innovation

A programme of leadership skills development for Scotland’s tourism industry is delivered which recognises the importance of leadership in helping the sector recover from COVID-19 and working with the previous programme alumni, the Tourism Leadership & Recovery Fund to support recovery is delivered.

8. Destination Net Zero

Through the Programme, the Scottish Government will invest £0.75 million of revenue and £3.2 million of capital funding during 2021/22 to develop and deliver progress towards a net zero pathway for Scottish tourism which in this first year will build evidence and partnerships, prioritise deliverable investment on low carbon recovery and renewal and drive innovation for environmental, economic and social benefits. The programme will support Scotland’s tourism industry on the journey to net zero via practical advice, funding and research.

9. Scottish Tourism Observatory

A key commitment of the 2030 Tourism Strategy is that 'We will use the best quality data and insights available at national, regional and local level to support planning, prioritisation and monitoring our progress in delivering this strategy.' The Strategy also recognises the role of data in securing a sustainable future – 'We will establish measures to help Scottish tourism businesses commit to sustainable practices.' 

10. Investment models to support Scottish tourism recovery

This project aims to identify options for viable new future investment models which will support both recovery and Scotland Outlook 2030 ambitions.

The Strategic Tourism Infrastructure Development Fund

The Strategic Tourism Infrastructure Development Fund is a pilot initiative designed to support more extensive and collaborative projects from visitor hotspots across Scotland that are facing immediate and damaging pressures on their infrastructure or negative impacts on communities as a result of significant increases in visitor numbers since the summer of 2020. 

The Strategic Tourism Development plans will identify the key infrastructure issues at various locations, the barriers to be addressed including planning, environmental impact, legal and landowner issues, the costs for the development of the infrastructure, and the timescales required for delivery of the essential infrastructure over the next two - five year period. These development plans are due for completion by the end of December 2021. 

Phased approach to recovery planning

A phased approach is being taken in order to meet specific timescales set by the Scottish Government.

Phase one: A set of priority recovery proposals which outline the immediate support required from Scottish Government in the coming six months to two years. This is over and above the urgent need for ongoing business support to ensure business survival.

On 24 March 2021, £25 million was secured to support the delivery of 10 priority recovery projects.

      Approved funding for year: 2021/22     Resource Capital Total


International Demand Building     £8 million   £8 million
2 Destination & Sector Marketing and Product Development Fund     £3 million   £3 million
3 ScotSpirit Holiday Voucher Scheme – Social Tourism £1.4 million   £1.4 million
4 Days Out Incentive Scheme £4 million   £4 million
5 Strategic infrastructure Plans   £0.5 million £0.5 million
6 Tourism and Hospitality Talent Development Programme 2021/2022 £2.5 million   £2.5 million
7 Leadership development to boost product innovation £0.662 million £0.1 million £0.762 million
8 A Net Zero Pathway for Scotland’s Tourism Industry £0.75 million £3.2 milliion £3.95 million
9 Scottish Tourism Observatory   £0.8 million £0.8 million
10 Investment models to support Scottish Tourism recovery £0.05 million   £0.05 million
  Total costs for year: 2021/22 £20.4 million £4.6 million £25 million

Phase two: A package of recovery proposals identified through a comprehensive stakeholder consultation carried out in spring 2021.  The proposals, which run until 2024, aim to provide a pathway to recovery for our industry and destinations and are designed to deliver outcomes aligned to Scotland Outlook 2030 at the same time. STERG is continuing to review the proposals, which were submitted to the Scottish Government in August, and assess their value in the long-term recovery, taking into account the ever-changing landscape of the pandemic and its impact on businesses.

Scottish Tourism | Two-year recovery recommendations

Published November 2021

Phase three: Secure the necessary funding and support to implement the two year recovery recommendations.


Delivering a tourism recovery and investment plan will deliver benefits which underpin the four key outcomes identified in Scotland Outlook 2030:

  • A more resilient, agile sector capable of managing future shocks and change, building longer term sustainability and profitability.
  • A greener low carbon exemplar sector which delivers tangible community and social benefit, creating and developing sustainable destinations.
  • Skilled sustainable workforce with improved employee working conditions built on fair work principles creating a committed, diverse and valued workforce.
  • A globally recognised sector – considered world class in key sectors and providing the very best, authentic and memorable experiences.