Scots tourism professionals call for affected staff to help recovery of sector

A call has gone out for workers with the relevant skills to help the recovery and potential restructure of the Scottish tourism industry.

Jane Ali-Knight of Edinburgh Napier University’s Business School. Picture: Steve Cox.
Jane Ali-Knight of Edinburgh Napier University’s Business School. Picture: Steve Cox.

The “call to arms” – which is billed as “Getting ready for recovery” and aimed at workers currently furloughed or on a reduced working pattern – is to help address the challenges facing the sector.

The initiative has been championed by around 120 alumni of the Destination Leaders Programme (DLP), a joint initiative for tourism industry professionals delivered for the past seven years by Edinburgh Napier University and Scottish Enterprise.

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They said that in 2017, the sector provided employment for eight out of every 100 Scottish workers, but thousands of tourism business-owners are “naturally feeling anxious about the future in the wake of coronavirus”.

The aim of the furlough initiative is to help small tourism firms recover by providing targeted support and mentoring that can enable them to “take forward identified actions, outputs and outcomes”.

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Jane Ali-Knight of Edinburgh Napier University’s Business School said: “It is intended that involvement will fall under the acceptable category of professional training for ‘furloughed’ professionals, and will help maintain and extend their professional skills, expertise, experience and networks.”

The aim is that projects taken up will be focused on objectives that underpin The Scottish Tourism Strategy to 2030, as well as wider destination leadership, development, management, industry resilience and recovery, and destination promotion.

Aileen Lamb from Scottish Enterprise said: “The objective is to support recovery and potential restructure of the Scottish tourism industry. We want to use this opportunity to encourage innovative thinking across a range of themes.

“Most importantly we want to encourage the supportive and adaptable nature of tourism professionals to shine. The initiative will include a weekly online session called DLP Assemble giving businesses a collaborative place to gather regular updates on initiatives and government funding as we look towards the point when restrictions can be lifted.”

Ali-Knight added: “We will guide participants on themes and tasks arising through the DLP Assemble initiative, to help form project groups with a good mix of experience and expertise, and to match groups with mentors and professional support.”

Kenneth Wardrop, a fellow DLP founder, outlined the aim to act quickly, working with groups such as the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group and Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group to start applying practical thinking and solutions amid the “devastating” impacts on the sector.

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