Tourism and Hospitality Industry Leadership Group minutes: September 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 27 September 2023.

Attendees and apologies


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


  • Aileen Crawford*, Glasgow Life
  • Andrea Nicholas*, Green Business UK Ltd
  • Anna Miller, Highlands and Islands Enterprise
  • Barbara Smith*, Industry Expert/VisitScotland Board Member
  • Benjamin Carey*, Carey Tourism
  • Bryan Simpson, Unite
  • Calum Ross*, Loch Melfort Hotel
  • Carron Tobin*, RuralDimensions Ltd
  • Chris Greenwood*, Moffatt Centre
  • Frances Pacitti, Scottish Government
  • Debbie Johnson*, IHG Hotels and Resorts
  • Joshua Ryan-Saha*, TravelTech for Scotland
  • Judy Rae*, OnFife Cultural Trust
  • Karen Jackson, South of Scotland Enterprise
  • Kat Brogan*, Mercat Tours
  • Melanie Allen, Nithbank Country Estate
  • Michael Golding*, Visit Inverness Loch Ness
  • Rob Dickson, VisitScotland
  • Russell Murray*, Wilderness Group
  • Stephen Duncan*, Historic Environment Scotland


  • Chris Brodie, Skills Development Scotland
  • Chris O’Brien*, Nevis Range
  • Derek Shaw, Scottiah Enterprise
  • James Fowlie - COSLA
  • Joss Croft*, UKInbound
  • Kelly Johnstone*, Springboard
  • Leon Thompson*, UKHospitality Scotland

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


  • Caroline Cantin, Scottish Government
  • John Telfer, Scottish Government
  • Karen Christie, Scottish Tourism Alliance
  • Lawrence Durden, Skills Development Scotland

Items and actions


Marc Crothall (MC) welcomed everyone to the fifth meeting of the Tourism and Hospitality Industry Leadership Group. On behalf of the ILG, MC thanked Aileen Crawford and her team at Glasgow Life for finding a replacement meeting venue at short notice and for kindly hosting the ILG in Glasgow. It was noted that the meeting had been extended by one hour, 11am-4pm to ensure that sufficient time could be allocated on the agenda to full group discussions on other topics. Apologies were noted, (see above). MC introduced Fran Pacitti, Director of Business and Better Regulation, Scottish Government. Fran will replace Colin Cook on the ILG.

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

The recently launched Programme for Government (5th September), has a strong emphasis on economic growth and improving conditions for the business community. It was noted although COVID may be behind us, challenges around the cost-of-living and the cost of doing business remain. Tourism and hospitality are seen as playing a key role on the journey towards a wellbeing economy.

The Minister visited many tourism and hospitality businesses during his summer tour and in general he noted that the mood was optimistic. However clearly there are many different challenges facing different parts of the country and different parts of the sector. Mr Lochhead also recognised that profitability is a significant issue.

Direct feedback received from visitors (US visitors in particular) has been very positive and has confirmed that international visitors still see Scotland as a great place to visit.

The Minister thanked everyone for being a part of the ILG and noted how important it was for this group to be able to make a difference. It was noted that the five proposed missions which the ILG are discussing are closely linked to areas which are important to Mr Lochhead, for example, Innovation - it is recognised that innovation is the key to unlocking many future opportunities and Community Led Tourism - the importance of communities delivering tourism experiences cannot be underestimated.

Mr Lochhead noted that it was his role as Tourism Minister to ensure that other Ministers and Cabinet Secretaries are aware of the tourism agenda priorities.

It was noted that 2030 is not very far away and therefore the work that the ILG is doing is even more important.

Note of previous meeting

The note of the previous meeting (21 June) was approved by the ILG on 28 July. Meeting notes are expected on the Scottish Government website imminently. It was noted that the actions from the previous meeting are complete and have been closed.

ILG missions – defining the future agenda

Karen Christie (KC) provided a brief recap of the process followed and the work done to identify the initial five missions. KC also illustrated the link between the missions and the delivery of the Vision, Mission and Strategic Priorities outlined in Scotland Outlook 2030.

Following the ILG meeting in June, five short life working groups came together to discuss and progress the thinking on each of the missions identified. Mission documents are in the process of being developed however a summary of each of the missions was provided to the ILG in advance of the meeting.

KC advised that the core purpose of the meeting today was to share the development of the initial five missions which were first discussed on 21 June and to actively gather ideas, insights, information or guidance from ILG colleagues to help further shape, build or importantly stretch the missions. It was noted that our missions must be big and bold enough to realise our vision of being the world leader in 21st century tourism.

Round table discussions would be used to gather feedback from all.

Following the meeting the short life working groups will come back together to reflect on the contributions from colleagues and to further develop the missions and complete the mission document.

KC outlined the purpose of the full mission document:

  • provides a common framework for each of the missions
  • describes what the mission is, what it aims to achieve by 2030 and what it will take to get there, i.e. the game changing actions required
  • aims to shape the future agendas of the ILG
  • act as an influencing tool for strategic discussions that the ILG will have with colleagues and stakeholders
  • provide evidence and a solid rationale for developing a case which would seek to secure support for the game changing actions
  • provide content which can re-shaped for external communication

It was noted that once complete the full mission document will contain the following information:

  • mission title
  • mission description
  • what will it take to get there?
  • why is this mission important to achieving the vision and outcomes of SO2030?
  • who are the individuals or organisations that need to be involved to make this mission happen? 
  • strategic alignment To SO2030 and NSET
  • what are the game changing actions?
  • expected benefits/impacts
  • timescales
  • funding model
  • next steps

Five missions – Transforming tourism and hospitality in Scotland

To set the scene for the round table discussions a short overview of each of the missions was shared. This was based on the mission summaries which were circulated in advance of the meeting.

  • Proud and Valued People Working For Scotland (Lawrence Durden)
  • Sustainable Transport (Chris Greenwood)
  • Net Zero Acceleration (Andrea Nicholas)
  • Technology To Enhance and Enable (Joshua Ryan-Saha)
  • Community Led Tourism (Carron Tobin)

Roundtable challenge sessions – Realising our ambition to be the world leader in 21st century tourism

The five leads for each of the ILG missions facilitated round table discussions with small groups of ILG colleagues. This process allowed the ILG to contribute their views and opinions to all missions. 

Discussions were led with four initial questions: What do you like about this mission? What don’t you like? What is missing? How could we stretch this mission further?

Feedback was captured by the mission leads for further discussion and analysis with the mission groups.

Summary of challenge sessions

Following the round table discussions, each of the mission leads provided a summary of the key takeaways.

Community led tourism – Carron Tobin

Recognition that community led tourism and support for it has developed during the gap between 2020 (launch of SO2030) and 2023 – although not part of the original thinking, it is completely in tune with the ambition of SO2030 and has exciting scope for Scotland to be a world leader. Integration is key. Education is key.

The proposition is radical, ambitious and very exciting – and needs to be socialised so not seen as a threat. 

Tourism and communities have traditionally been perceived as two different sectors and this bridge between is not widely understood but is gaining traction with recent success stories. 

Community led tourism is rooted in place – place making and place promotion.

CSR as a mechanism for supporting CLT was noted but also risk of ‘community-washing’ – need mechanisms to channel this to best effect.

Proposals on recalibrating measurement resonated well with everyone. Measuring what’s important to communities rather than footfall, bed nights and spend will help stimulate action, integrate all players at an individual community level and embed tourism as a force for good.

Community Led Tourism covers and supports several spectrums, from communities who suffer from too many visitors to communities who are economically fragile. Community Led Tourism also spans urban, rural and island communities and therefore requires different approaches and support mechanisms but embodying the same principles. 

Overall, the conversations were very constructive and keen to explore the ‘how’ which has been considered by the group and will now be fully developed.

Technology to enhance and enable – Joshua Ryan-Saha

Overall feedback on the game changing actions was good.

Data was a clear priority. Everyone highlighted the need for data at a national level which is easy to access, interpret and respond to. The example of a “tourism forecast” was referred to, similar to a weather forecast.

Creating a technology or digital baseline for businesses is important but we must make the journey easy with transparent costs and benefits.

Encouraging collective action to develop digital capability was seen as important particularly when public finances are limited. We must make it easy for businesses, organisations and communities to work together, to pull resources and expertise.

The relationship between this mission and all other missions is recognised. There will be a need to share information across the different missions.

Net Zero acceleration – Andrea Nicholas

Success could be defined as, ‘every business understands what Net Zero means, knows what they need to do to get there and understands the benefits.’ It was highlighted that the language used must be simple and easy to understand.

  • many businesses do not know where to start
  • education is crucial – make it simple and straightforward
  • businesses need to see and be aware of commercial and reputational return in adopting net zero
  • are businesses aware of the help that is out there
  • incentives could include less VAT or lower Non-Business Rates if can provide green credentials

Businesses need to be signposted towards advice, grants, best practice case studies etc. Local, regional, national, and international examples needed.

Carbon literacy/education is very important especially to understand what are and how to measure Scope 3 emissions.

Everyone agreed that conditionality must be embedded into the rules for any funding, grants or working with public sector organisations.

The biodiversity fund which is suggested in the DNZ plan should be explored further especially with the aim of businesses adopting “insetting” strategies.

There is a desire to develop a Scottish specific, sector specific, carbon calculator which is both easy for businesses to use but also provides a reporting function which would show whether we are meeting our Net Zero targets.

  • Scotland could become a world leader if we produced something for the sector that was effective and easy to use
  • would need to be credible and futureproof too

It was reiterated that the DNZ Action Plan is a three-year plan and the role of the ILG is to influence the agenda to 2030 and beyond.

Net Zero cuts across/is umbrella issue for all missions.  

Sustainable transport - Chris Greenwood

Feedback suggests that most agree with the mission however there remains many unanswered ‘how’s’ and ‘why’s’, it was noted that this mission needs to be explored further.

In terms of gaps, there is a need to clarify the aviation and personal transport position. In terms of personal transport, it was suggested that instead of ‘actively encouraging people away from personal transport’ the focus should be on ‘providing more choice’.

Nothing has been captured about measurement yet.

There is a need to understand how tourism is perceived by transport stakeholders – is tourism considered a ‘customer’ of transport?

Understanding the visitor journey, public transport and aviation may be easy but there are multiple transport options. In particular, what do our visitors think and say about transport in Scotland?

Articulate the national perspective for the tourism agenda – this is the output from the scoping and understanding phase which will define the conversations and influence the delivery of positive actions and outcomes with stakeholders in a consistent manner.

The position of Net Zero in this mission should be articulated clearly – note cross-over with other missions.

Actions captured in this mission may influence or be influenced by the other ILG missions.

Proud and valued people working for Scotland

Everyone liked the new name for this mission - formerly called ‘Sustainable Labour Supply’ and generally agreed with the content.

Childcare provision across the country was noted as important as this will enable people back into work.

The Tourism and Hospitality Skills Group has been active for approximately 15 years. It is important not to duplicate or reinvent the wheel. There is a need to clarify the role of this group in the context of the ILG.

Measurement is a challenge. Further work to be done to identify what we want to measure. Is it staff turnover, number of vacancies etc?

There is more work to do to identify how we can best engage, listen and understand the workforce.

The diversity of the workforce needs to be recognised, for example volunteers.

Creating an environment to foster entrepreneurship is important – we must support innovators and entrepreneurs.

Teachers/lecturers are important to engage with.

Visa sponsorship is perceived as being difficult, lengthy and costly. In practice it is not an issue however we must do more to support SMEs through this process.

Important to focus on employees not just employers.

Group observations and next steps for the missions

A full group discussion took place to capture general feedback and observations on the five missions. The group considered several questions: Are there synergies across the missions which should be noted and addressed? Are we being bold enough? If not, how do we continue to stretch the thinking? Are there any gaps? Feedback was captured as follows: 

There is a need to change the narrative about what tourism is in Scotland. There must be a move away from economic growth targets and a focus on sustainability. Benefits of tourism must be felt in host communities and Net Zero targets are a priority.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE and I) were not explicit in discussions. DE and I should be woven through all missions. Specific points raised included:

  • if we want our people to be proud of Scotland, then we must be inclusive. We must consider how the positioning of tourism in Scotland and the products that are offered impact on our communities, (the high end, luxury, ‘exclusive’ market was referenced)
  • inclusivity applies to both the people who live and work in Scotland and our visitors. We can’t afford for example to pursue a high end luxury positioning which would exclude others, for example the working class
  • all five missions must consider how to get genuine buy in from workers and from customers

Transport was highlighted as an important issue which impacts all five missions and was noted as a significant constraining factor. The following points were highlighted: 

  • the ILG would benefit from increased engagement with transport stakeholders
  • the ILG should consider how it can use its influence most effectively with transport stakeholders
  • it would be helpful for the ILG and industry to have a better understanding of the transport/Transport Scotland’s ambitions and priorities for Scotland moving forward
  • the ILG should be clear about its ask of (transport) stakeholders before engaging
  • the structure of tourism in Scotland needs discussion to understand the different roles which different organisations play, e.g., DMO’s, Sector Trade bodies, Communities, public agencies etc. How can best practice be shared effectively among these players and how do we ensure that communications can reach the right audiences?
  • the voice of the visitor is critical and should be heard and measured. It is important that we understand what’s important to the visitor and we measure that

Next steps for the missions

All five missions were agreed as the right missions to start with. 

The agreed five missions are listed below. It is recognised that the missions will continue to evolve and develop over time.

  • Community Led Tourism
  • Technology To Enhance and Enable
  • Net Zero Acceleration
  • Sustainable Transport
  • Proud and Valued People Working For Scotland

The group agreed that the missions must not be developed or progressed in silos. Transport was referenced as an example which cuts across all missions.

It was agreed that ‘Inclusion’ was not a mission in its own right. However, DE and I must be woven throughout all missions.

Mission groups will review the output captured from the discussions and analyse what that means for each of the missions. The groups will then revisit and further develop the mission documents in consultation with the necessary stakeholders.

Action: Mission groups to progress the development of the mission documents with a view to updating the ILG at the next meeting in January 2024.

It was noted that the mission documents will act as a strategic tool which will shape future ILG agendas, influence discussions with stakeholders and could affect the direction of future investment, resource.

It was highlighted that the mission documents must start driving action soon.

The mechanisms for influencing stakeholders need to be discussed further within the scope of each mission.

Content from the mission documents will be re-shaped for external communication. It was highlighted that the STA conference on 31 October is a good communication platform to share the work of the ILG and in particular the five strategic areas of focus for the ILG. The ILG mission leads will work with ILG comms to ensure the right messages are communicated about each of the missions.

Action: ILG narrative to be developed for sharing at the STA conference on 31 October. (ILG Comms/ILG Mission Leads)

ILG support framework and communication

Rob Dickson, VisitScotland advised that responsibility for supporting the ILG will have transitioned from the STA to VS by end of September. RD thanked the STA and Karen Christie for the management and coordination of the ILG since its inception.

From 1 October a new VS support framework for the ILG will be in place. The key contacts at VisitScotland are:

ILG Lead*, Rob Dickson

ILG Communications*, Carolyn Churchill

ILG Coordination*, Beth Thoms

ILG Support*, Freja Fischer-Moeller and Sarah Iversen

*Working titles. 

RD confirmed the support which VS has put in place. This includes:

ILG Secretariat. Providing all arrangements to support the ILG.

Support for the ILG missions: VS will engage in the work of the missions through the most relevant point and ensure the ILG don’t duplicate VS's existing work.

Ongoing programme management to support delivery of Scotland Outlook 2030 – this was noted as substantive and includes:

  • follow up work and actions to ensure what the ILG expects to happen does happen
  • public agency business as usual, VS will ensure that the work of the public agencies is visible and reported so the ILG can be confident of progress
  • monitoring delivery of Scotland Outlook 2030
  • developing ILG Forward Plan

A SharePoint Site for the ILG is being established and should be available in approximately three weeks. A communication framework has also been put in place covering:

  • communications protocol
  • roles and responsibilities of VisitScotland, individual members of the ILG and organisation members
  • communication process

Communications activity will be developed to support the missions and ILG forward plan. This will include: 

  • key messaging for use in industry communications, stakeholder engagement and social media
  • consideration of audiences including businesses, destination and sector organisations, Channels (including industry events)
  • STA conference in October is a key milestone for communications activity relating to the missions

The slides will be shared with the ILG meeting notes for reference.

Future ways of working and ILG future agenda(s)

ILG annual review 

The Terms of Reference states that: “The impact and effectiveness of the ILG and ILG members will be reviewed annually. Success criteria will be determined by the ILG and will be driven by the purpose and remit of the group. Success criteria may also be influenced by the Key Performance Indicators identified for SO2030 and the priorities of NSET. The first set of success criteria should be set within the first year of the ILG.”

The ILG discussed how impact and effectiveness could be measured. The following comments were noted as part of the discussion:

In the first year we have been clear about what we set out to achieve, i.e. a review of the strategy SO2030 with the purpose of identifying the key areas of strategic leadership (missions) which the ILG could drive forward.

Discussions must now take place to agree what the ILG wants to achieve in the next 12 months. 

Key to the success of the missions will be taking inspiration from and understanding best practice from other parts of the world. The ILG should think about international engagement in the next 12 months.

Consideration should be given to how we can measure the ILG’s influence?

Measuring the success of the ILG will be different to how we will measure the success of the missions/Scotland Outlook 2030.

A great measure of success would be to be invited to speak by the UNWTO on World Tourism Day 2030, about how tourism in Scotland has transformed to be the world leader in 21st century tourism.

It was suggested that the STA conference could be used to set out the ILG objectives for the next 12 months to November 2024.

An ILG ‘Year One Overview’ has been put together and will be uploaded onto SharePoint for future reference.

It was noted that a short survey would be issued to the ILG to capture honest feedback about the first year – what’s worked? What hasn’t worked? What could be improved?

Action: A survey designed to capture the lessons learned from the first year will be circulated to the ILG for feedback (ILG Secretariat/Coordinator).

ILG touchpoints

A diagram was shared to illustrate the potential reach of the ILG. As advocates for SO2030 it is the role of the ILG to engage and influence the different touchpoints with a consistent narrative.

It was noted that a plan which outlines how we can or will engage and influence the different touchpoints/stakeholders would be helpful. It would also be useful to know hour our communication activity will map across to these important stakeholders.

ILG engagement with stakeholders was noted as critically important at the first ILG meeting. To ensure the right list of stakeholders was created for future stakeholder engagement activity, ILG members provided information on the key organisations or individuals that the ILG should engage with. The information was consolidated and shared. This document is available for reference when planning future stakeholder engagement activity

Action: A mapping which illustrates how our communications will reach our key stakeholders is to be worked up. (ILG Comms)

Future ways of working

The following points were raised in advance of the meeting:

  • additional clarity is required on the time that individuals are expected to commit to the ILG, (it was noted that the ILG is voluntary and non-remunerated). For example, an annual commitment of days to the ILG would be helpful
  • clarity is required on the expenses of individual ILG members, for example travel to and from meetings if they are expected to be in person

Future ILG agenda(s)

Several suggestions were made for future ILG agendas:

Sessions with ‘external’ speakers such as international stakeholders.

Invite transport colleagues to join the ILG to discuss challenges, opportunities, priorities and collaboration.

Modes and methods of influencing within the context of the missions.

The structure of tourism in Scotland and the roles of the key players.

Any other business

ILG Chairs update

An ILG symposium has been agreed for Wednesday 7 February 2024. The symposium will bring together ILGs from all sectors of the economy to share their ambitions and priorities. National business organisations will also be invited to join.

Tourism short term indicator set

The Tourism Short Term Indicator Set is produced for the ILG by Scottish Government and VisitScotland in advance of each ILG meeting. To ensure that the report continues to meet the needs of the ILG the team at Scottish Government and VisitScotland would like to understand how the information is being used and if there is any feedback on its content. It was agreed that feedback on this report is to be included in the ILG survey.

Action: Questions which seek feedback on the Tourism Short Term Indicator Set are to be included in the ILG annual review survey. (ILG Secretariat)

Future sustainability of destination management organisations

DMO’s are critical to the delivery of Scotland Outlook 2030 but many are underfunded and under-resourced and unlikely to survive beyond 2025. The introduction of the Visitor Levy may offer a future source of funding however the earliest implementation date is 2026 and even then, it will for the local authority to decide whether to implement it or not. It is essential that a short term solution is found to support vulnerable, but essential DMOs, to get them beyond 2025. It was noted that public funding is limited and that alternative solutions must be found. MC recently highlighted the importance of DMOs to Tom Arthur Minister for Community Wealth and Public Finance. MC noted that the importance of DMOs and the role that they play is probably not known.

MC advised that Cathy Craig, CEO, Argyll and the Isles Tourism Cooperative, will be holding a meeting with key DMO leads at the end of October to discuss the future sustainability of DMOs. MC suggested that a narrative highlighting the value of the DMO to the tourism industry in Scotland could be a key output of that meeting.  

Action: MC to follow up with Cathy Craig. (MC)

Meeting close

MC thanked everyone for joining the meeting and for their positive and constructive input into the discussions.

MC thanked the mission leads and all those who had been involved in the mission groups for the time they had invested in shaping the missions since the last meeting in June.

Future meeting dates are confirmed below. Location, venue and timing for each meeting is to be confirmed..

  • Wednesday 24 January
  • Wednesday 27 March
  • Wednesday 19 June
  • Wednesday 2 October
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