Scottish tourism, like the sector worldwide, is in a precarious state. The coronavirus pandemic and its ongoing effects are challenging the industry in unprecedented ways. Adaptation has become the norm, as the sector looks to maintain business and retain its consumers.
As the effects of the pandemic took hold in March, the Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group met to create a plan to help tourism businesses recover from this crisis. It became clear early on, as the virus swept the globe, that recovery would take time. Many businesses would require significant support, not least financial, as we navigated the new normal. We also recognised the opportunity to reset tourism and shape its responsible and sustainable recovery in a way that was aligned with the national tourism strategy, Scotland Outlook 2030.
Prior to 2020, Scotland thrived as a visitor destination. That popularity, inevitably, came with consequences, which at times put a strain on some communities, infrastructure, and the environment. The Scottish government created the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund to deal with challenges faced in those hotspot areas.
Collaborative partnerships are at the heart of what we do at VisitScotland. Across the country, events like our ‘Tea and Tourism’ program pull together representatives from local authorities, DMOs, individual businesses, and sector representatives to discuss local issues and opportunities.
Responsible & reassuring recovery
Now, as we look to the future post-COVID there is recognition that a responsible, reassuring, and phased approach to recovery is required for the benefit of the industry, communities, and visitors.
Building on existing stakeholder networks and relationships, VisitScotland has undertaken, through its Regional Leadership and Development team, a program of round table discussions. These began as we approached the reopening of tourism in July.
The round table sessions primarily focussed on areas where there was community concern around the reintroduction of visitors. The sessions facilitated discussions with host communities and key partners. We were able to listen to their concerns, share our plans and activities, and reassure them that a phased and responsible approach to recovery was being adopted. Sharing information about available guidance and support, consumer insights, and our plans for marketing and promotion were key.
This is an excerpt from an article by Malcolm Roughead, originally published on The “Good Tourism” Blog.