The Scottish tourism industry is set to benefit from nearly £6.5 million of public sector support to boost its innovation and global competitiveness, with a strong emphasis on digital tourism.
In a speech during the Signature Programme of Scottish Tourism Week, VisitScotland Chief Executive Malcolm Roughead said that a collaborative multi-agency package of support available through VisitScotland, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands & Islands Enterprise (HIE) would support tourism businesses throughout the country to become more competitive through higher quality visitor experience and increased levels of growth and productivity in the sector.
The broad range of public sector support, which incorporates strategy and business development, leadership support and practical workshops, is set against the context of the National Tourism 2020 strategy, which highlights the importance of digital technology, increased leadership and the need to drive investment in the quality of the visitor experience.
The support available to Scottish tourism businesses includes:
Digital Tourism Scotland: a £1.2m partnership programme delivered by Scottish Enterprise in conjunction with Highlands and Islands Enterprise, VisitScotland, the Scottish Tourism Alliance, Skills Development Scotland and Business Gateway, as part of the National Digital Scotland Engagement Programme, which aims to help tourism businesses become more productive and stay competitive using digital technology. Spread out over three years, the support includes online resources, workshops, business briefings, intensive business support, and signposting to a wide range of other Scottish Enterprise and partner business development support.
Tourism Destination Development Fund: a £1.44m fund launched this week to support destinations across Scottish Enterprise areas in Scotland which boast high impact projects that enhance the quality of the visitor experience and visitor spend. This funding will be in addition to more than £3m destination development support for Scotland’s biggest cities, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.
VisitScotland’s Growth Fund: an annual £400,000 fund supporting collaborative tourism marketing projects, focusing on growth in the tourism sector and this year ensuring visitors experience the true spirit of Scotland. With a strong focus on digital marketing activities, the match-funding seeks campaigns that align to the £4.5m Spirit of Scotland global campaign.
Earlier this week, HIE announced a £310,000 investment in tourism groups in the Highlands and Islands region to co-ordinate a range of digital tourism support programmes for local businesses.
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Fergus Ewing, Scotland’s Tourism Minister, said: “We want Scotland to have a world-class digital infrastructure, meaning visitors can access digital services at any time, on any device, and almost anywhere helping tourism businesses compete, grow and find new customers in the global markets. This £6.5 million of new public sector funding is the kind of practical support that will help us meet that aim.”
Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said: “Digital technology is playing an increasingly important role in Scottish tourism. Our 2015 Visitor Survey recently revealed that 65 per cent of visitors use their smartphones and 36 per cent use tablets to enhance their holiday experience while in Scotland. Our inspirational new website at visitscotland.com and our hugely popular #ScotSpirit social media drive play key roles in Spirit of Scotland – our first ever global marketing campaign. The public sector money available to businesses to enhance their digital offering will play a vital role in driving forward Scottish tourism.”