Tourism and Hospitality Industry Leadership Group minutes: March 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 14 March 2023

Attendees and apologies

ILG Members Attending:

  • Aileen Crawford, Glasgow Life 
  • Anna Miller, Highlands and Islands Enterprise
  • Benjamin Carey, Carey Tourism 
  • Calum Ross, Loch Melfort hotel 
  • Carron Tobin, RuralDimensions Ltd 
  • Chris Greenwood, Moffatt Centre 
  • Chris O’Brien, Nevis Range 
  • Colin Cook, Scottish Government 
  • Debbie Johnson, IHG Hotels and Resorts
  • James Fowlie COSLA
  • Joshua Ryan-Saha, TravelTech for Scotland
  • Joss Croft, UKInbound
  • Judy Rae, OnFife Cultural Trust
  • Kat Brogan, Mercat Tours
  • Kelly Johnstone, Springboard
  • Leon Thompson, UKHospitality Scotland
  • Marc Crothall Scottish Tourism Alliance
  • Rob Dickson, VisitScotland
  • Russell Murray, Wilderness Group

ILG Members Attending Online via Teams:

  • Barbara Smith, Diageo
  • Karen Jackson, South of Scotland Enterprise

ILG Members Apologies:

  • Andrea Nicholas,Green Business UK Ltd
  • Ivan McKee MSP, Scottish Government
  • Bryan Simpson,Unite
  • Melanie Allen, Nithbank Country Estate
  • Chris Brodie, Skills Development Scotland
  • Michael Golding, Visit Inverness Loch Ness
  • Derek Shaw, Scottish Enterprise
  • Stephen Duncan, Historic Environment Scotland


  • Paul McCafferty, Scottish Enterprise 

  • Judith Young, Scottish Government

  • Andrew O’Neil, Scottish Government ONLINE

  • Karen Christie, Scottish Tourism Alliance

  • Caroline Cantin, Scottish Government

  • Lawrence Durden, Skills Development Scotland

  • Caroline Macfarlane, Scottish Government

  • Vicki Miller, VisitScotland

  • Eleanor Styles, Scottish Government

Items and actions


MC welcomed everyone to the third meeting of the Tourism and Hospitality Industry Leadership Group and introduced Caroline Macfarlane, new Economic Adviser at the Scottish Government covering tourism who was attending the meeting today.

Online attendees were welcomed.

Apologies were noted.

Congratulations were offered to Joss Croft, ILG member who was awarded an OBE for services to the tourism industry in the 2023 New Year Honours List and to Calum Ross, ILG member who was awarded the Silver Thistle in the 2022/23 Scottish Thistle awards. It was noted that Michael Golding, ILG member was currently attending ITB Berlin where he has collected the prestigious Green Destinations ITB Earth Award on behalf of Visit Inverness Loch Ness (VILN). This is an international award, which recognises global leadership in sustainable tourism in the fight against climate change and environmental degradation.

Introductory Comments

Despite the imminent changes within the Scottish Government, It is expected that the economic priorities, as set out in NSET, will continue and the contribution therefore of the Tourism and Hospitality sector towards these priorities will also continue to be important. Effective engagement with businesses and communities will also remain a priority for the Scottish Government.

The group were advised that the Scottish Government as well as MSPs from other parties continue to recognise Tourism and Hospitality as an extremely important sector within the Scottish economy.

It was noted that the Tourism and Hospitality industry still faces significant challenges and that many businesses are increasingly frustrated with the pace at which these challenges are being addressed. It was highlighted that there are a number of effective mechanisms (organisations, forums, collaborative working groups etc) across the sector which are actively addressing the immediate challenges. The strategic, medium to long term focus of the ILG agenda was once again restated. 

Scottish Tourism Month
Scottish Tourism Month runs throughout the month of March and already there have been incredibly positive conversations taking place:

  • SCOTO Conference - Scottish Community Tourism National Gathering and Learning Exchange (2nd and 3rd March).
  • ScotHot 8th and 9th March
    • Opened by Mairi Gougeon, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands.
    • STA Spotlight Stage (8th and 9th) – Curated to reflect the themes of Scotland outlook 2030.
    • SFD and STA Food Tourism Conference (8th)
    • STA Finance Recovery Seminar
  • Lochaber Chamber of Commerce Tourism Roadshow 14th 7 15th March
  • South of Scotland Destination Alliance 14th March
  • Ayrshire and Arran Tourism Conference 15th March
  • AITC, 22nd March
  • ASSC, 23rd March

Note of Previous Meeting (19th January 2023)
Meeting notes from the ILG meeting on 19th January were approved and published on the Scottish Government website on 28th February.

Actions from the Previous Meeting (19th January 2023)
The Terms of Reference were updated and re-issued following feedback at the last meeting.
Further work to refine the output captured at the last meeting on Diverse Businesses and Passionate People was undertaken by two small groups led by the public agencies. The groups are now considering the next steps. MC thanked ILG members for their input and noted that further Input from industry ILG members would be most welcome.

ILG Support and Support To Deliver SO2030
Scottish Government has been working with VisitScotland and public agencies to ensure they are well positioned to support Scotland Outlook 2030, NSET and the ILG moving forward.

Ensuring that the ILG is supported effectively and that the right capacity is in place to support the collaborative actions which need to be taken was noted as vital. To that end VisitScotland will be increasingly empowered, as part of their core function, to support this work.

The overall objective is to ensure that the Public Sector are providing the right support to enable and empower the ILG to provide strategic leadership and achieve the ambitions of SO2030.

It is proposed that a hub and spoke model is adopted with VisitScotland acting as the hub coordinating activity across public agencies and industry. It was noted that VisitScotland will play a facilitating andsupporting role and not a controlling role.

It was highlighted that the effectiveness of public agencies working together has greatly improved over the last 2-3 years, the Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group was noted as a good example of successful collaboration and a model which will continue to be adopted.

It was reiterated that the ILG agenda is a collaborative agenda and that the work will be delivered collaboratively across public sector agencies, Scottish Government and industry.

ILG Communication Support
The Group were informed that VisitScotland will take the lead on ILG communications in collaboration with the Scottish Government team. A Communication Plan will be developed as a priority.
The ILG narrative to support Scottish Tourism Month was welcomed by the Group - consistency of communication was noted as very important.
The importance of communicating how the work of the ILG is relevant to industry and how it will impact industry was highlighted.
Reinvigorating the key messages of SO2030 to ensure that the strategy retains widespread buy-in across industry was highlighted as essential.
It was noted that there are Destinations (and Sectors) who have looked to SO2030 when developing their own strategies. It was suggested that it would be valuable to understand and capture how they are nowsuccessfully transforming under the core principles of the strategy.
It was recognised that Tourism and Hospitality as a sector must ensure that it continues to feed into national, regional and local discussions on economic development.

ILGs – All Sectors
The opportunity to draw on best practice and to learn from other sectors of the economy was highlighted as a valuable role for the Tourism and Hospitality Industry Leadership Group. It was suggested that an ILG conference, where representatives from all ILGs could come together to share what they are doing and to understand each other’s priorities etc, would be a positive and constructive exercise.

Achieving Our Long Term Ambitions – Thriving Places / Memorable Experiences

To help achieve the overarching ambitions of SO2030 several outcomes have been identified under each of the 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, similar to the previous meeting on 19th January, 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 Thriving Places and Memorable Experiences.

The scene setting for the workshop was supported by VisitScotland. A slide deck was circulated in advance of the meeting.

ILG members were thanked for their significant contributions to the ‘Activity Mapping to Scotland Outlook 2030’ document which was prepared and circulated in advance of the meeting.

It was noted and agreed once again 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.

Following the group discussions several observations were highlighted and noted by the Group:

  • since the launch of SO2030 in March 2020 there are some areas of the strategy which have notably evolved. This evolution needs to be reflected moving forward:
    • Community - The role and sense of what ‘community’ means for Tourism and Hospitality. Note: A definition of ‘community’ would be helpful. A distinction should be made between residents of a community who are not involved or connected to delivering tourism and hospitality experiences and those organisations or individuals within a community who are delivering tourism and hospitality experiences for the benefit of the community.
    • Climate Change - The scale of ambition for climate change has dramatically increased (how does that balance with the other key elements of responsible tourism – Inclusion, Natural and Cultural Heritage and Thriving Communities?) Note: A consistent understanding of what we mean by “responsible” tourism across the sector would be helpful.
    • Economic Development – There has been a distinct shift toward regional economic development.
    • People - Our visitors and their expectations have changed since 2020. The expectations of those who work in the sector have also changed.
  • it was noted that the perception of the sector continues to be a challenge for young people however it was acknowledged that the work currently being done through the Hospitality Rising recruitment campaign or the work of Springboard for example is helping to tackle this. It is recognised that there is still work much work to be done in this area.
  • sustainable transport is fundamental to creating thriving places and delivering memorable experiences across Scotland. 
  • access to the right data to drive data driven decision making is critical. It is incredibly important that projects such as the Scottish Tourism Observatory continue. A measurement framework to benchmark Scotland as a world leading destination is essential. 

Next Steps

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.
Action: Output from the group discussions to be consolidated and circulated to the group for further comment. Next steps will be agreed thereafter. (Secretariat)

Any Other Business

No other business was noted.

Meeting Close

MC thanked everyone for their time and for their valued contributions to the discussions. 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 Wednesday 21st June 2023, 11.00am-3.00pm. Location and venue to be confirmed.

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