Tourism and Hospitality Industry Leadership Group minutes: January 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 19 January 2023.

Attendees and apologies

ILG members attending

  • Barbara Smith, Diageo*
  • Bryan Simpson, Unite
  • Carron Tobin, RuralDimensions Ltd*
  • Chris Brodie, Skills Development Scotland
  • Chris Greenwood, Moffatt Centre*
  • Chris O’Brien, Nevis Range*
  • Colin Cook, Scottish Government
  • Debbie Johnson, IHG Hotels and Resorts*
  • James Fowlie, COSLA
  • Joss Croft, UKInbound*
  • Judy Rae, OnFife Cultural Trust*
  • Ivan McKee, Scottish Government
  • Karen Jackson, South of Scotland Enterprise
  • Kat Brogan, Mercat Tours*
  • Leon Thompson, UKHospitality Scotland*
  • Marc Crothall, Scottish Tourism Alliance
  • Melanie Allen, Nithbank Country Estate*
  • Michael Golding, Visit Inverness Loch Ness*
  • Rob Dickson, VisitScotland
  • Russell Murray, Wilderness Group*

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

ILG members attending online via Teams

  • Andrea Nicholas, Green Business UK Ltd*
  • Anna Miller, Highlands and Islands Enterprise
  • Calum Ross, Loch Melfort hotel*
  • Derek Shaw, Scottish Enterprise
  • Kelly Johnstone, Springboard*
  • Stephen Duncan, Historic Environment Scotland*

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

ILG members apologies

  • Aileen Crawford, Glasgow Life* 
  • Benjamin Carey, Carey Tourism*
  • Joshua Ryan-Saha, TravelTech for Scotland*

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


  • Eleanor Styles, Scottish Government
  • Judith Young, Scottish Government
  • Karen Christie, Scottish Tourism Alliance
  • Lawrence Durden, Skills Development Scotland
  • Mark Rowley, South of Scotland Enterprise
  • Paul McCafferty, Scottish Enterprise

Items and actions


MC welcomed everyone to the Tourism and Hospitality Industry Leadership Group meeting and introduced Barbara Smith, Chris Brodie and James Fowlie who were attending the meeting for the first time.

Online ILG members were welcomed.

Apologies were noted.

Co-Chair introductory comments

Ivan McKee, Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise

IM commented that he was encouraged to see the work which has been done by ILG members in advance of the meeting noting that the level of detail provided should enable robust discussions to take place. Mr McKee was particularly interested in the international benchmarking work that had been done.

IM emphasised the importance of capturing perspectives from everyone around the table during discussions.

IM advised that the fair work agenda is core to the Scottish Government’s approach to the economy and that’s important for everyone within the sector to understand how they can contribute towards this agenda.

Mr McKee indicated that he was looking forward to the morning’s discussions and that he was keen to see the output.

Marc Crothall, CEO, Scottish Tourism Alliance

MC thanked ILG members for their constructive and honest feedback following the first meeting and noted that all comments received would help to shape future meetings.

ILG members were also thanked for their significant contributions to the International Benchmarking exercise, the Activity Mapping to Scotland Outlook 2030 and the initial Stakeholder capture.

MC restated the long term strategic focus of the ILG and reinforced the point that immediate and short term challenges were being addressed through separate forums, for example, the STA’s work (the Board, Council and Destination Forum), Sector trade body engagement, DMO activity and public sector agency work. It was also noted that public sector agency partners, Scottish Government, local government and the STA will continue to meet and work together to address the current short term issues.

MC acknowledged that ILG members were all aware of the collaborative, partnership model which has been adopted by the ILG however it was noted that this one team approach must also be conveyed to our networks.

MC emphasised that ILG members (with the exception of the public agencies and the Union representative) are there in an individual capacity and not representing a business or organisation.

Action: ILG members to convey the purpose, remit and ways of working of the ILG to their networks to ensure the role of the ILG is clear and misunderstandings can be avoided.

It was highlighted that public sector agency and Scottish Government colleagues will contribute to the work which will be required between ILG meetings.

It was noted than an ILG Communication Plan would be developed and that a common narrative for the ILG would be made available in advance of Scottish Tourism Month (March 2023) 

Note of previous meeting (23rd November 2022)

Meeting notes from the ILG meeting on 23rd November were approved for publication bar one small amend - P4 ‘Measuring Success’ section, a change from, ”By 2030 people want to work in the sector” to “By 2030 people will aspire to have careers in the sector” was agreed.

Action: Final meeting notes are to be published on the Scottish Government website, and signposted from once the requested amend has been made. (Secretariat)

ILG Vice-Chair

The role of vice chair for the Tourism and Hospitality Industry Leadership Group was confirmed as Judy Rae. It was noted that Judy has extensive experience chairing industry groups as well as a broad breadth of knowledge and experience from across the sector. 

The group agreed that changes were required to the Terms of Reference to ensure that a balanced gender split is always considered when selecting the co-chair and vice chair. In addition, the group agreed that the co-chair and the vice-chair should also aim to achieve a balance of both tourism and hospitality knowledge and experience.

Action: Terms of Reference to be updated. (Secretariat)

A world leader in 21st century tourism – benchmark destinations

It was noted at the last meeting that there was an appetite to define more explicitly what a world leader in 21st century tourism looks like for Scotland vs competitor destinations. To help inform this piece of work ILG members captured examples of destinations which Scotland should be looking at more closely.

In a round table discussion ILG members highlighted the destinations which Scotland should consider as a credible benchmark. It was noted that further work should be done following the meeting to understand in greater detail what these destinations are doing, how Scotland could learn from them and where could Scotland win. The following points were noted during discussions and subsequently grouped into themes.


  • international accreditation as a sustainable / green destination should be considered - for example, the GDS movement index, this is primarily for cities / regions (Glasgow ranked no. 6) Green Destination certification is another example
  • historically Scotland has been compared with New Zealand in terms of sustainability, it could be argued that Scotland is now ahead of New Zealand.
  • British Colombia, Canada has a good sustainable tourism identity
  • Scotland has good sustainability credentials however they are not well known. There is a need to showcase our credentials
  • Slovenia, Bhutan and Palau are recognised for their sustainability credentials – these destinations should be explored further
  • Bentonville, Arkansas, has declared itself the “Mountain Biking Capital of the World.” It has successfully linked the town to a large network of mountain bike trails, with significant investment from the Walton family (founders of Walmart. The initiative started as a way to connect communities with bike trails and grew from there. A successful example of business and community engagement. An example of private investment from major businesses into sustainability. It was noted that this example started with investment into the right infrastructure – everything else came after
  • WEF (World Economic Forum) annual Travel and Tourism Development Index last year’s ranked Japan as the #1 economy for enabling Travel and Tourism Development (with the USA at #2 and the UK at #8). Japan scores highly on Health and Hygiene, Safety and Security, Business Environment, Infrastructure and Demand Drivers such as natural and cultural resources. The UK ranks fairly well on Business Environment and Health and Hygiene, as well as on Air Infrastructure and Environmental Sustainability but not so well on Safety and Security, and appallingly on Price Competitiveness (116th out of 117!)
  • 2023 and beyond will offer significant opportunities for quality and health and wellbeing experiences
  • New Zealand was highlighted as an example of a focused, long term sustainability positioning. A sustainability levy for inbound visitors was noted
  • Ireland demonstrates very strong trade partnership support


  • New York and New Zealand were noted as two examples of destinations that are good to work in due to higher wages and better employment contracts (no zero hour contracts for example). Although these destinations are still experiencing a recruitment crisis it is less severe - these examples provide evidence that fair work practices are critical
  • MeetDenmark has a strong focus on the wellbeing economy
  • to successfully address the workforce challenges that the sector faces a greater understanding of long term population changes is needed
  • all sectors are challenged on availability of workforce, and it is expected that the market will become even more challenging - the role of technology to support the workforce was noted
  • older workers, (pre-retirees), can offer good flexibility


ILG members discussed the importance of recognising and highlighting areas where Scotland had proven strengths. The need to understand how Scotland could exploit these strengths even more was also recognised. Some of the examples noted were:

  • music and entertainment including festivals and major events
  • world leading venues
  • whisky tourism (Diageo £185m investment)
  • food and drink
  • public access legislation
  • community empowerment
  • sustainability (mentioned in earlier discussions)


  • seasonality is a long term challenge which is significantly more pronounced in some parts of the country than others
  • consideration should be given to how we can flex our strengths to address long term seasonality challenges
  • it was suggested that our perception of seasonality is cultural and needs to change and it was questioned whether fiscal measures could help with this
  • better incentives to encourage lifestyle or smaller businesses to remain open throughout the year could make a huge difference

It was noted that further work would be required to progress and develop the thinking from today’s discussions. This will include examining more closely Scotland’s areas of global advantage and exploring the benchmarking examples identified by ILG members to understand which destinations Scotland should consider as a benchmark, the learnings that Scotland can take from these examples and identifying any specific enablers or barriers that the industry would need to consider.

Action: Meeting with agency partners to be arranged to discuss the options for progressing this work. (Secretariat)

Closing comments from the Minister

Mr McKee thanked everyone for their contributions to the discussions. He:

  • acknowledged that the Tourism and Hospitality sector had strengths in many areas and highlighted that this was both a challenge and an opportunity
  • advised focusing on areas of global strength and appeal
  • emphasised the importance of being able to articulate specific asks to support the sectors long term goals
  • noted that insights on workforce challenges are critical and will continue to inform conversations around fair work
  • noted that NSET contains commitments on developing fair work agreements and the Minister sees the ILG playing a key role in this for the sector

Achieving our long term ambitions – 'Diverse Businesses'/'Passionate People'

To help achieve the overarching ambitions of SO2030 several outcomes have been identified under four priorities, Diverse Businesses, Passionate People, Thriving Places and Memorable Experiences. To realise these outcomes by 2030 it is essential to identify the medium to long term strategic actions which should be implemented over the next six-seven years.

A workshop format was used to firstly sense check the priorities and outcomes in the national strategy to ensure they reflect our ambition and will help us to achieve our vision of being a world leader in 21st century tourism and secondly start the process of teasing out the bold strategic actions which will be needed. The workshop focused specifically on Diverse Businesses and Passionate People.

The scene setting for the workshop was supported by Scottish Enterprise and Skills Development Scotland.

It was noted and agreed that we are not rewriting the strategy.

Group discussions considered the long term challenges and opportunities that industry will face, international benchmarking examples and the extensive work that is already happening across the sector. Notes from the group discussions were captured in templates. Consolidated templates will be issued with the meeting notes for further comment.

It was emphasised that the discussions today were only the start of the process. Work will continue, with support from ILG members, to build on and refine the output in advance of the next meeting on 14th March.

Action: Meeting with agency partners to be arranged to discuss the options for progressing this work. (Secretariat)

Action: ILG members who would like to continue to contribute to the refinement of the strategy outcomes and the development of the strategic actions should email

Any other business

Kat Brogan presented B Corp as a possible way to demonstrate the commitment of Scotland’s tourism and hospitality industry to social and environmental sustainability.

  • B Corp offers B Corp certification, a global benchmark for businesses
  • it was noted that B Corp also offers programs and tools to enable businesses to understand and measure their social and environmental impact regardless of whether they are B Corp certified or not
  • it was noted that B Corp has limitations, for example, it only applies to private businesses and therefore wouldn’t apply to charities. It was also highlighted that B Corp must be relevant to businesses of all sizes

Action: The suitability, implications and impacts of B Corp for Scotland and Scotland’s tourism and hospitality industry is to be explored further. (Kat Brogan)

Michael Golding proposed that ILG meetings should adopt a low carbon approach.

  • there are a number of steps that could be considered to ensure the lowest impact possible, some examples include reducing or removing the use of paper from meetings, using digital instead, monitoring or having an awareness of the carbon impact of the group, considering what food is offered and where it is from

The group agreed that this was worth considering further.

Action: Next steps to be proposed to the group. (Michael Golding)

Closing summary and next steps

MC thanked everyone for their time and for their valued contributions to the meeting. In addition, MC thanked everyone once again for their input into the work which was done in preparation for the meeting.

ILG members were invited to reflect on the meeting and forward any additional thoughts which would help build on the discussions which took place. General feedback and any thoughts or suggestions about future meetings were also welcomed.

Action: All comments to be sent to

The next meeting is Tuesday 14th March 2023, 11.00am-3.00pm, Edinburgh (venue to be confirmed). 

The next session aims to focus on our Thriving Places and Memorable Experiences.

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