SCOTLAND is bidding to create an entire new generation of tourism leaders under plans to replicate a successful model from Australia.
• 50 patricipants to take part in 2 year programme
• Scheme modelled on successful Australian projects
Long-term complaints about a lack of training for potential industry pioneers are set to be addressed thorough a £168,000 scheme announced by Scottish Enterprise at a major industry conference in Edinburgh.
The scheme, the first of its kind in the UK, is based on a model developed in Melbourne and which was credited with achieving a tourism increase of more than 10 per cent.
If successful, the scheme is expected to be rolled out across the rest of the country.
Fifty rising tourism professionals from Edinburgh and St Andrews will take part in a two-year pilot to be run in conjunction with Edinburgh Napier University.
They will take part in six months of intensive workshops and residential training weekends hosted by international and UK-based tourism experts.
Key areas of expertise will include marketing, branding and digital development.
Scottish Enterprise believes the “Destination Leadership Programme” will help create a “pool” of future tourism leaders to drive the industry forward.
Eddie Brogan, director of tourism at the agency, said: “Confident, ambitious leaders are vital to the future growth and success of our tourism companies and that of the industry overall.
“This programme has been designed specifically to provide the necessary skills and experience for our tourism leaders to help them work together to develop and deliver a high quality visitor experience and grow tourism revenues in key destinations such as Edinburgh and St Andrews.
The project, which will be delivered by the commercial arm of the university’s business school, is being backed by the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group, which hosted yesterday’s conference, and the St Andrews Partnership, who will help select suitable candidates.
Graham Birse, director of the Edinburgh Institute, the business school’s commercial wing, said: “Some of the leading destinations of the world are applying a new approach to the management of the tourism experience; one in which the network of organisations interacting with the visitor, share common values, goals and objectives.
“In cities like Melbourne, the result has been evident in the improved performance of participating organisations and, of course, in the visitor experience.”
In Melbourne, more than 100 tourism professions have completed a similar course.
The Edinburgh Tourism Action Group believes the initiative - which will be launched in October - will play a key part in boosting the value of the industry to the capital.
A new strategy launched a year ago by ETAG set a target of boosting the number of visitors to the capital by a third by 2020 and increasing average expenditure of visitors by 10 per cent.
Chairman Robin Worsnop said there were signs for optimism in the industry following a tough year with large parts of the country struggling with bad weather and a “detrimental” impact on the tourism sector due to the London Olympics.
He told the conference that an extra 1,000 hotel rooms were due to be delivered over the next 12 months.
He added that new facilities at the expanding Edinburgh International Conference Centre and official predictions that hotel occupancy rates in the city would be second only to Paris in Europe were key signs for optimism.
Meanwhile, a poll conducted at yesterday’s conference found that improving the overall “visitor experience” in the capital was the number one priority for the sector over the next few years.
Less than a third of the 200 industry figures who attended the event were happy with the levels of cleanliness in the city.