Scottish Tourism Week

Feature by Anna Battista | 17 Mar 2006

Formed in 1997 to represent the tourism industry views and to take these views to government and public agencies, the Edinburgh-based Scottish Tourism Forum (STF) offers a variety of events for the trade, often in partnership with public agencies, but also gives independent advice and represents its members' interests to the public sector.

To raise awareness of tourism, the Forum has organised the First Scottish Tourism Week that will take place at the end of March in a variety of locations across Scotland. "What we are trying to do with this five-day event is to bring together the private sector, the public sector, and the elected sector, i.e. the MSPs, to better understand that tourism crosses so many different areas of Scotland, hence it is everyone's business," Alan Rankin, STF Chief Executive, states. Tourism is the biggest sustainable sector industry in Scotland: there are over 20,000 tourism businesses in the country and over 215,000 people are employed in the industry.

The Tourism Week programme features workshops, lectures and roadshows on a variety of international, local and topical themes, such as e-commerce development, customer service and skills, and innovation in tourism. "We will try to involve the schools scene as well, as we want to look at how to attract young talent to tourism," Rankin states, "but we also want to focus our attention on e-commerce issues, as we recognise that, to be successful in future, Scottish businesses must have effective web-based advertising and business capacity. We also want to pay attention to Scotland in an international context and perspective, look at how important the international marketing is, and at how effective marketing is done in partnership between Visit Britain and Visit Scotland."

The STF has members from a wide range of sectors, including accommodation, activities, attractions, restaurants, tour operators, education, support services and transport - all of them have welcomed the Tourism Week initiative because it offers a mixture of events, but it also give the chance for businesses to meet with their MSPs and senior ministers within the Executive. One of the events scheduled during the week is an industry reception at Holyrood to celebrate the importance of tourism to the Scottish Economy; "The reception looks at bringing businesses and the public sector closer together," Rankin explains, "we have a very strong view that for tourism to succeed in Scotland we have to establish a partnership approach between the private sector and the public sector. The private sector needs to put investment into the industry and that needs to be reflected with investment on the public sector, because tourism is affected by planning decisions, transport decisions, education decisions, and by many other issues that impact on tourism along with human resource legislation and with some of the European legislation that's coming through."

Another event that Rankin recommends is "The MSPs Challenge": during the last day of the Tourism Week, MSPs will go out and visit tourism businesses in their constituency and, from first-hand discussion with them, they will better understand the issues that affect tourism, "In this way, the MSPs will be in a better position to see through proper legislation in the Parliament that will support tourism," Rankin claims.

The success of this year's event will be crucial to organise the second tourism week in 2007; "Many businesses are now trading all year round which is great," Rankin says, "but, because the First Tourism Week falls before April, we would like to see tourism businesses using it in future as perhaps the opening of the main season in Scotland."

First Scottish Tourism Week, 27-31 March 2006
The complete programme of the First Scottish Tourism Week can be downloaded from the Scottish Tourism Forum website