Scotland National Strategy for Economic Transformation: industry leadership groups and sector groups - evidence

This paper provides summary evidence received from Scotland's industry leadership groups and other economic sector groups as part of the National Strategy for Economic Transformation engagement process.

19. Tourism Industry Leadership Group

Figure 19.1 – Turnover and GVA of the Scottish Tourism Sector [31]
Figure 19.2 – Employment of the Scottish Tourism Sector [32]

Industry Aspirations to 2030

The industry aims to:

  • re-establish a comparable level of GVA to pre-pandemic levels by 2025
  • raise GVA to £4.64 billion, up from £4.14 billion in 2018, and jobs to 236,221 up from 218,000 in 2019.
  • target overnight visitor volumes & values of:
  • Domestic trips: 15,113,000; domestic spend: £3.71 billion
  • European trips: 2,011,000; European spend: £1.16 billion
  • International/Long haul trips: 2,371,000; International/Long haul spend: £2.8 billion.

Industry Opportunities

The tourism industry’s principle opportunities include:

  • new interest in the outdoors, generated by COVID-19 and boosted the buy local / source local trend, so there are new opportunities in the Outdoors and Agri-tourism markets;
  • further developing and growing the Food Tourism proposition, supporting the local food and drink producers and bringing two key sectors even closer together;
  • Scotland’s demonstrable capacity in hosting and delivering major business, sporting and leisure events;
  • capitalising on the appetite from businesses to contribute to Scotland’s net zero ambitions and to embrace technology to drive productivity, create new or improved customer experiences. Improved planning and decision making through the improved availability of data and insights through the data observatory will also help;
  • the pandemic impact has not been equal across the different sectors of the industry and regional variations have also been noticeable. Typically, rural and coastal locations have benefited most from the earlier recovery of the UK staycation market and so have had greater opportunity.

Industry Challenges

The tourism industry faces a number of challenges including:

  • the slow return of international travel. A firm commitment to protect existing air routes, re-establish key routes and grow new routes is needed as well as supporting the essential supply chain that plays the key role in both brokering and facilitating the inbound leisure, event and business tourism markets. Outbound international travel also impacts the staycation market;
  • the pace of recovery. Reduced footfall in cities and towns is severely impacting tourism and hospitality, particularly in rural areas;
  • the significant increase in core costs in the essential supply chain especially energy, which remains a key concern and challenge to counter. Balancing cash flow to repay debt and invest capital in assets and the workforce to stay competitive and to respond to future consumer expectation is set to be become all the more difficult in the early recovery period;
  • workforce availability and skills shortages continues to be one of the biggest challenges for the sector. The impact of COVID-19 and Brexit has exacerbated the availability of staff especially chefs, causing some businesses to close or reduce their operating hours and product offer.
  • there remains a greater need for understanding the range of career opportunities that exist across the sector both by parent forums and teachers in primary and secondary years education. Availability of affordable housing both for shared staff accommodation and individual/ family accommodation especially in more rural parts that will help attract new and retain existing workforce is also a barrier.

Ongoing and Planned Activity for Industry

The industry’s activity plans include:

  • a commitment to contribute to Scotland’s Net Zero agenda, which is at the heart of Scotland Outlook 2030 and is recognised as a key part of the sector’s recovery;
  • a programme to create a Net Zero Pathway for Scottish Tourism is underway as part of the tourism recovery plan, helping the sector contribute to Scotland’s Climate Change Plan and Net Zero ambitions; and,
  • a national Tourism Skills Group, which has been in place for a number of years to align with the national tourism strategy.



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