A new action plan to deliver Scotland’s heritage tourism strategy 'People Make Heritage - Heritage Tourism 2020' has been launched by Heritage Tourism Group in preparation for next year’s focus year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.
With more than 8 million annual visits to Scottish heritage attractions such as Edinburgh Castle, Skara Brae, Blair Castle and Traquair House, marketing heritage and building the visitor experience is critical to support the sector ahead of the focus year.
Heritage and Culture is one of the key ‘assets’ identified in the national tourism strategy: Tourism Scotland 2020 which encourages the industry to focus on the markets that offer Scotland’s tourism industry the greatest growth potential. The strategy also encourages collaboration within and across Scotland’s destinations to develop authentic, memorable experiences for visitors.
The three-year action plan has been developed by the Heritage Tourism Group (HTG) comprised of Historic Environment Scotland, National Trust for Scotland, Historic Houses Association, Scottish Ancestral Tourism Group, VisitScotland, Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA).
The HTG has long benefited from an ethos of sharing, collaborating and learning with key industry partners, and this new strategic approach by the partners to support one of Scotland’s most important assets is marked by the creation of a new Knowledge Transfer Partnership post which will sit within the STA.
The post has been funded through a partnership with Glasgow Caledonian University and the KTP Associate will co-ordinate the delivery of the action plan through 2017, working closely with heritage partners to coordinate relevant activities.
The action plan highlights key areas of activity, such as market intelligence and research, collaborative digital marketing, itineraries and trails, and increasing participation. The focus will be on building and strengthening the sector through collaboration and leadership within the HTG as well as identifying opportunities to engage with the wider heritage tourism sector. By 2017 it is hoped that the project will have demonstrated the benefits of collaboration in raising the profile and economic contribution of heritage tourism to the Scottish economy.
Stephen Duncan, Chair of the Heritage Tourism Group and Director of Commercial and Tourism at Historic Environment Scotland, said: “Scotland’s fascinating historic sites, stunning landscapes and attractions are a truly unique asset and an important element of the country’s wider tourism offering. Providing a real insight into different aspects of Scotland’s past, our rich heritage continues to captivate UK and international visitors alike, welcoming more than eight million visitors a year, demonstrating its value, significance and potential to support and drive economic growth.
“The Heritage Tourism Action Plan marks an exciting milestone for the sector, and I’m extremely pleased to have led partners in the production of this collaborative plan for the industry, for 2017 and beyond. Designed to build upon the great work that is already going on across the industry, it also aims to increase opportunities to work with others in the sector to develop, foster and nurture heritage tourism in Scotland and build the foundations for the years ahead.”
Marc Crothall, Chief Executive Officer of the Scottish Tourism Alliance said: “Heritage tourism in Scotland is currently worth more than £1.34bn to the economy with a potential to grow to over £1.7bn by 2020. The launch of the action plan marks an important milestone in the development of a more formalised framework and longer-term strategy. I am delighted that the STA will be central to delivering this new focus with the appointment of the new Heritage Tourism Co-ordinator who will be based at our offices in Stirling.”
Professor John Lennon, Director of The Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism Business Development at Glasgow Caledonian University, said: “The Scottish heritage sector is an iconic and vital part of our tourism offer with immense potential for the celebratory year in 2017. The Moffat Centre at Glasgow Caledonian University has a unique reputation in this area, having researched and carried out a range of development projects over the last two decades and we look forward to working closely with our heritage tourism partners.”
Lord Hopetoun of Hopetoun House and Chair of Historic Houses Association Scotland, said: “Independently owned historic properties play a key role in ensuring that Scotland is an attractive international and domestic destination. This jointly developed three-year action plan will allow these important drivers of communities and the rural economy to benefit from the growing tourism industry and our members are looking forward to 2017’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology. The focus this celebratory year will bring will help us in delivering the authentic experience that comes from a visit to a family-owned HHAS house or castle.”
Malcolm Roughead, CEO of VisitScotland, said: “Scotland has a rich and fascinating heritage that is hugely popular with visitors from all over the world. A great deal of research and planning has gone into ensuring that the heritage tourism sector is geared up to take advantage of the opportunities that the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology will provide. With so many visitors coming to Scotland to enjoy this country’s historic buildings, museums and gardens, it is important that the tourism industry works together to share knowledge and expertise, ensuring that we provide the best experiences possible and bring Scotland’s heritage to life.”
Mark Bishop, the National Trust for Scotland’s Director of Customer & Cause said: “When we look at Scotland’s economy and competitiveness, the contribution of our heritage often gets overlooked. That makes me angry. Heritage generates tens of thousands of jobs, sustains small and large communities across the land, injects millions of pounds from tourism and helps define Scotland’s worldwide image and presence. Beyond that, our outstanding natural and cultural bounty are tangible reminders of the deep roots of where we came from and how the lives we lead today were shaped. As the title of the action plan makes really clear, what is at stake is not just historic buildings or glorious landscapes but the wellbeing of our people. That’s why this plan is so important and that’s why the National Trust for Scotland is proud to be playing a part in delivering it.”