Tourism and Hospitality Industry Leadership Group minutes: February 2024

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 8 February 2024.

Attendees and apologies


  • Richard Lochhead MSP, Minister for Small Business, Innovation, Tourism and Trade
  • Marc Crothall, Scottish Tourism Alliance


  • Aileen Crawford*, Glasgow Life
  • Andrea Nicholas*, Green Tourism
  • Anna Miller, Highlands and Islands Enterprise
  • Barbara Smith*, Industry Expert
  • Brnjamin Carey*, Carey Tourism
  • Calum Ross*, Loch Melfort Hotel
  • Carron Tobin*, Rural Dimentions
  • Chris Greenwood*, Moffat Centre
  • Debbie Johnson*, IHG Hotels and Resorts
  • James Fowlie, COSLA
  • Joshua Ryan-Saha*, Travel Tech Scotland
  • Joss Croft*, UKInbound
  • Judy Rae*, OnFife Cultural Trust
  • Karen Jackson, South of Scotland Enterprise
  • Kat Brogan*, Mercat Tours
  • Kelly Johnstone*, The Springboard Charity
  • Lawrence Durden, Skills Development Scotland
  • Leon Thompson*, UK Hospitality Scotland
  • Mark Rowley (virtual), South of Scotland Enterprise
  • Rob Dickson, VisitScotland
  • Russell Murray*, Wilderness Group
  • Stephen Duncan*, Historic Environment Scotland


  • Bryan Simpson, Unite
  • Carolyn Churchill, VisitScotland
  • Chris Brodie, Skills Development Scotland
  • Chris O'Brien*, Nevis Range
  • Derek Shaw, Scottish Enterprise
  • Fran Pacitti, Scottish Government
  • Kevin Fallon, Scottiah Government
  • Melanie Allen*, Nithbank Country Estate
  • Paul McCafferty, Scottish Enterprise

* ILG industry members attend in an individual capacity and do not represent a business or organisation


  • Caroline Cantin, Scottish Government
  • Beth Thoms, VisitScotland
  • Freja Fischer-Moller, VisitScotland
  • Ethan Hood (virtual(, Scottish Government
  • John Coghill, Scottish Government
  • Sarah Iversen, VisitScotland
  • Suzie Stewart, Scottish Government

Items and actions


Marc Crothall (MC) welcomed everyone to the sixth meeting of the Tourism and Hospitality Industry Leadership Group. He thanked Joshua Ryan-Saha (J R-S) for hosting at Edinburgh Futures Institute.

J R-S gave a short introduction to the building and noted the official opening is in September.

Apologies were noted.

Richard Lochhead, Minister for Small Business, Innovation, Tourism and Trade welcomed ILG colleagues to the meeting and the following points were noted:

  • Edinburgh is a leading city on innovation, data, and technology, and that should be reflected in tourism businesses across Scotland. Our tech sector is a great advantage
  • the cost of doing business remains a challenge, but there is an appetite for entrepreneurship and investments in tourism and hospitality. As such, the ILG mission group work is even more relevant
  • the transport network across Scotland is crucial to enable the development of tourism especially in rural areas
  • finally, expressed that the economic environment is challenging with the toughest budget yet. It is important to ensure the budget works for the tourism and hospitality sector to make the sector more resilient
  • expressed appreciation for the group and welcomed future collaboration

Note of previous meeting

The note of the previous meeting (27 September 2023) was approved. Meeting notes will be published on Scottish Government website. 
Actions from previous meeting were summarised as follows:

  • DMO discussion: the ILG is not the forum for a discussion about the future of DMOs. This is for DMOs to discuss and bring forward findings if desired. A survey is being put together by some DMO leads
  • stakeholder mapping: this was covered in comms protocol and messaging as circulated
  •  year one review: to be covered later in meeting

Scottish tourism month

MC highlighted the importance of March as an opportunity to elevate the voice of Scottish tourism. He updated on a recent meeting with the First Minister and the challenges of competition being faced by Scotland as a destination. MC presented the activities planned for Scottish Tourism Month.

The highlight of this is the signature conference in Aberdeen (12-13 March). A two day conference programme which includes destination marketing, people strategy, food tourism, transport, net zero and policy panel sessions. 

Finally, MC encouraged the group and its colleagues to sign up to the Signature Conference.

Skills agency update

Item deferred to future meeting as Chris O’Brian (Skills Development Scotland) unable to attend.

Lawrence Durden (LD)/MC briefly updated that proposals in the Withers report will not be implemented straightaway.

Mission discussions: 

Sustainable Transport

Chris Greenwood (CG) summarised that although all missions are challenging in their own way, transport has particularly unique issues and challenges associated with it. 

CG highlighted that the challenges can be divided in two ways, by Actions Required, which include consumer behaviour and infrastructure, and by Customers Addressed, which include visitors and supply side. 

CG further noted the alignment with Outlook 2030 and how developing a sustainable transport network will contribute to achieving our Outlook 2030 ambitions, our national ambition to become a net zero society by 2045 and a wellbeing economy.

CG noted the key areas of risk including the policy environment, noting it’s not just tourism that needs to be considered in relation to this mission. We need to consider what can be influenced in terms of infrastructure and what is required for both visitors and people employed in the industry. CG outlined that a large range of partners will be needed to move actions forward.

The mission statement was discussed by the ILG with the following feedback:

  • timescales are very short (six years) so we need to focus on how we can affect change quickly and improve what’s already happening or planned. Unlikely huge new projects can be established in this time
  • look at best practice and case studies in both cities and rural areas as per the paper’s suggestions
  • actions are aspirational but maybe not within the ILG’s scope; particularly given timescales. Key question is who leads and delivers these. One of the key challenges is that tourism doesn’t have ownership over transport 
  • agreement that Transport Scotland is the key delivery agency so their support and engagement is critical to success of this mission 
  • potential to map this mission against other ILGs and find out if they have any focus on transport.
  • important to find out visitors’ viewpoints on transport – VS insights/research may be able to contribute here
  • specific suggestions for mission document:
  • language to be more obviously linked back to the strategy
  • sustainability and wellbeing alignment to be signposted
  • add in Regional Transport Partnerships as another key partner/stakeholder


  • a sustainable transport deep dive mission with Transport Scotland at the next meeting
  • VisitScotland (VS) to share visitor data/insights when available

The group approved the Sustainable Transport mission statement.

Embracing Rapid Technological Change

JR-S presented the Embracing Rapid Technological Change mission paper and noted the mission is more about how we advocate, rather than undertake actions. It is a campaign.

He highlighted the group focused on three areas - access to data, trail blazers, and an AI council.

The key message is tech is changing rapidly - it’s time for Scottish tourism to lead not follow.

Important to ask how we shift the mindset of the sector and the need for technology to be an enabler while also putting people at the heart of this change. 

The mission statement was discussed by ILG with the following feedback:

  • it was echoed that the mission statement and its three clear areas sets a useful agenda
  • questions around resourcing and leadership - how will the AI council be put together 
  • access to data is great – yet people still need the skills to understand it and embrace it
  • trail blazer idea is exciting but need to remember that some businesses still don’t have the basics e.g. being online bookable. What are the barriers for them and how do we ensure they are getting the latest version of technology to help them
  • given the nature of the title and our timescales, acknowledgement that thinking long term might be challenging as tech is changing so rapidly 
  • Digital Tech Skills Group is in place already, as well as the Tech ILG – these could be helpful to work with
  • case studies from other countries would be helpful to see what their template looks like; South Korea and Hungary both mentioned as exemplars
  • potential governance/legal challenges in relation to AI and technology

The group approved the Embracing Rapid Technological Change mission statement.

Proud and valued people working for Scotland

Kelly Johnstone (KJ) presented the mission noting the title reflects the importance of our people to be passionate about working for tourism and hospitality. The paper has been taken to Tourism hospitality skills group for input.

Focus of the mission falls under three key areas - attracting and retaining people, reform the education and training of our people, and influence policy. the mission statement is linked to Outlook 2030 and the wellbeing economy and fair work.

Noted challenges and risks for the mission due to public sector budget restraints, financial pressure on businesses and lack of engagement from businesses. It is important to look at the next steps and decide how actions are delivered. 

The mission statement was discussed by ILG with the following feedback:

  • general approval for the game changing actions and way of approaching them in short/medium/long term
  • it was discussed that stakeholder mapping is needed to prioritise engagement as the list of stakeholders is very broad
  • it was noted that employers could share case studies e.g. how to retain staff or get qualified staff from abroad
  • it was noted that this mission is somewhat unique as there is already an expert group (Tourism and Hospitality Skills Group) considering and delivering on this agenda. ILG can amplify work the skills group has done and/or accelerate some of the work 
  • fair work convention could be made clearer within the paper
  • it could be clearer who is responsible for the actions

Community Led Tourism

Carron Tobin (CT) presented the mission statement, reminding ILG members that community led tourism is already happening, but this is about getting the wider industry to embrace this wholeheartedly.

One key point is that we currently measure footfall and spend but what can we say about this and its impact for communities? Measurement needs to be put in place that is meaningful for communities.

Embrace community led tourism as something that’s happening and saying it’s core to tourism in Scotland is a first step.

The mission statement was discussed by ILG with the following feedback:

  • a wide appreciation and respect for the mission but possible lower levels of understanding of the mission versus other missions. Therefore, there is a need to dig deeper into this subject
  • also need to understand more about press pause initiative
  • alignment to the HES strategy could be highlighted/considered
  • measurement and rhetoric are both important aspects of this mission – what does success look like in terms of wellbeing and communities
  • it was noted that the language needs to be tweaked to make clear there is no ‘us versus them’. The definition of ‘community’ needs to be clearer given the mission title
  • the document acknowledges that this is a ‘challenging conversation’; suggesting maybe the ILG needs its own ‘challenging conversation’

Action: VS to work with CT to arrange a deep dive session on community tourism 

Net Zero discussion:

Andrea Nicholas (AN) provided an update on the Net Zero mission, noting the scale of this challenge. The Destination Net Zero (DNZ) programme (delivered by agencies and VS) already has an action plan with timelines built into it, there was a query as to whether a separate Net Zero mission was best approach; or if Net Zero should be integrated in all the other missions.  

Rob Dickson (RD) updated on the background to the DNZ programme within Tourism Recovery funded projects and its continuation, saying there is a need for the group to understand what DNZ is already doing. We need to dig in deeper into what elements are being delivered in DNZ and what is not covered there.   

Net Zero mission was discussed by ILG with the following feedback: 

  • there is an opportunity to retain a Net Zero mission which highlights where work is already being done and show where other businesses contribute
  • the mission should capture Outlook 2030 and could track DNZ initiatives across the sector
  • role for the group is to identify gaps and where game changing actions could be driven by the ILG
  • potential for the Net Zero mission group to have a role in advising other mission groups as a critical friend 

Action: Net Zero paper to be brought to the next meeting.

Year One Review and Membership

RD presented the Year One Review paper which was overall positive and constructive. He outlined the challenges with the development of the Short-Term Indicator Set but that this is something VS and SG will be working on. ILG noted the review results.

A brief discussion on membership recruitment and succession planning covered topics including best time for EOI/applications and the approach to appointment process.

Anna Miller (AM) raised whether we could have a community representative that delivers tourism to join ILG.

MC reminded ILG members to contact him, if they have any concerns or are looking to leave the group before the end of their three year terms.

HES and ASVA both have detail which might be useful for the indicator set development.


  • VS to deliver paper on future membership for June meeting
  • all to send any further suggestions for inclusion in short-term indicator set, to

Future agenda

It was agreed that the next meeting on 27 March should be in Edinburgh but June meeting potentially to take place outside of Edinburgh/Glasgow.

Deep dives in March to focus on Transport and Community Missions.

Action: VS to find venue in Edinburgh for 27 March and look into options for June meeting.

Any other business and closing summary

MC summarised the key next steps for each mission as agreed:

  • transport: engage Transport Scotland for a deep dive
  • technology: we need to create enablers and unleash the opportunity with other partners
  • people: many items in the paper are already happening - advocacy is the important part to accelerate
  • community: next meeting to do a more root and branch look at this mission
  • net zero: paper to be brought forward at next meeting

MC reminded members of the ILG symposium which can be discussed in more detail next meeting. This will be a good opportunity to promote efforts and showcase progress.

Back to top