Ambitious tourism targets unveiled

Strategy outlines plans to grow visitor spend by £1 billion by 2020


AN ambitious industry-led plan to boost Scotland’s tourism revenues by £1 billion by 2020 has been unveiled.

Launching its Tourism Scotland 2020 growth strategy last week, The Scottish Tourism Alliance, which is comprised of trade associations, businesses and marketing groups, said all corners of the industry must work together if the growth target is to be realised.
A key aim is to achieve an annual overnight visitor spend of between £5.5bn and £6.5bn by 2020, adding at least £1bn to the current figure.
The strategy outlines the importance of raising and maintaining high levels of quality and customer service – in particular, addressing any variations in quality when it comes to accommodation, eating out, travelling, internet and mobile phone coverage.
It calls on the industry to commit to gaining and enhancing the relevant skills, knowledge and customer-focused attitude required to deliver “consistently high quality experiences for every type of visitor”.
While accepting the growth target as “ambitious”, Stephen Leckie, chair of the STA, said it is “realistic” too – as long as the public and private sectors work together.
“This strategy puts the responsibility in the industry’s hands and highlights the fact that now, more than ever, we have to work together and seize every opportunity for growth,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re a small B&B or a huge resort hotel, there’s a chance to make tourism deliver sustainable, long-term growth that will not only bolster individual businesses but ultimately act as the bedrock of the Scottish economy.”
STA chief executive Marc Crothall said the industry must act now.
“We need to use research to our full advantage and focus closely on the customer’s overall experience – not just hone in on individual products and businesses – and work together to shape Scotland’s many wonderful assets into the authentic, quality experiences that visitors are looking for,” he said.
Tourism minister Fergus Ewing said: “The Scottish Government and our agencies will do all we can to support the sector as it takes the strategy forward and we will collaborate closely to make sure that our assistance is targeted where it is needed most.”

Image: Tourism minister Fergus Ewing flanked by Marc Crothall (left) and Stephen Leckie.