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Malcolm Roughead: A force for good – Tourism industry has the capacity to lead the recovery from Covid-19

The Isle of Raasay situated off the east side of the Isle of Skye in the Inner Hebrides.
The Isle of Raasay situated off the east side of the Isle of Skye in the Inner Hebrides.

Tourism is worth more than £12 billion to the economy of Scotland, supports 15,000 businesses and 230,000 jobs. For every £50,000 spent by visitors in Scotland, a new job is created in Scotland and tourism currently accounts for 8.5% of jobs.

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland

I quote these figures because as we start to come out of lockdown, it’s a timely reminder of how important tourism is to the economy of Scotland. Yes, it’s about holidays and making people happy, but it’s also much more than that – the industry has the capacity to lead the recovery.

So we are reminding everyone how important tourism is, and we need your help in telling your stories via social media about how your community has benefited from tourism investment.

A year of job losses and lots of businesses have been forced to close

We know we won’t just push a button and tourism will recover – we’ve had a year of very little investment, job losses and lots of businesses have been forced to close – it will take years and significant investment for the industry to recover.  We need international and domestic visitors to return to regain some of the ground lost.

But there is also no doubt that tourism is a force for good – creating economic and social benefits in every corner of Scotland. As well as its huge economic benefits, it helps to tackle issues around everything from depopulation to health and education as its ripple effect is the lifeblood of so many places.

Tourism helps to tackle issues around everything from depopulation to health and education.”

It encourages entrepreneurial start-ups and community spirit – and to evidence this we have worked with the tourism industry to show what a force for good tourism really is.

We have developed some case studies on VisitScotland.org which showcase the importance of tourism through a health, economic and sustainability lens. We would like to add to these, so if you have a good story to tell, let us know.

Take a look, for example, at the Isle of Raasay Distillery in the Inner Hebrides. A £13.5 million investment to build a distillery and luxury accommodation which has attracted a whole new group of visitors to the island and has brought 20 sustainable jobs to a place with only 161 inhabitants.

Raasay Gin – Isle of Raasay Distillery.

Many of those employed would have had to leave the island to find employment, but now they have that on their doorstep and it is hoped this will boost the island’s population with new families,  which will in turn support the school, the community store and other commercial ventures on the island.

Visitors are a major part of boosting the economy there and in 2019 there were 1,500 bed nights spent in its six luxury bedrooms in the revived Borodale House, and the island was voted Best Tourism Destination of the Year at the Scottish Whisky Awards.

Major investment can bring such incredible benefits

What an amazing example of how a major investment in one place can bring such incredible benefits – and it’s not just whisky – its tourism.

Or take a small town like Innerleithen in the Scottish Borders which has seen its high street revived as a result of mountain biking. The town has benefited hugely from the rise in cycling tourism, but the community and local businesses have worked hand in hand to ensure that this is done in a sustainable way.

A £19 million investment in the development of a new mountain bike innovation centre will further boost the fortunes of the town and the project is predicted to contribute £141 million to the economy and create some 400 jobs in the South of Scotland.

These are just two of the case studies we are showcasing in our Tourism a Force for Good programme. We will be providing local and national information to help you tell that story to your contacts – so let’s share our stories and remind everyone how important this industry is.

 

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