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Staycation Scots to play critical role in keeping communities alive

New research has highlighted the critical impact of tourism on the wider Scottish economy – as almost half of Scots say they will staycation this summer.

In a poll conducted by Scotland’s Towns Partnership, the organisation behind the Scotland Loves Local campaign, 73% of Scottish businesses said custom from tourists and visitors is important to their business. 

The finding has been shared as Scotland Loves Local calls on people to boost the economy by exploring the best of what the country has to offer for days out and holidays this summer – discovering more of what’s on their doorstep.

The rallying cry comes as market research experts 56 Degree Insight’s quarterly Scottish Tourism Index found 44% of Scots are planning a Scottish staycation this summer – an increase of 3% on last year. 

Scotland Loves Local is the drive to strengthen Scotland’s communities through grassroots action. Born as the nation emerged from the first Covid-19 lockdown, it has evolved into a campaign for longer-term good – encouraging people to make the places they live better by supporting the people and businesses around them.

That impact is reinforced by the latest findings.

The poll of STP members and supporters – encompassing shops, restaurants, pubs, cafes, attractions, and other local businesses on high streets up and down Scotland – also found that 75% buy from and/or sell to other local businesses in the community, demonstrating the multiplier effect money spent by visitors in communities across the country. 

Kimberley Guthrie, STP’s Interim Chief Officer, said: “The cost of living and the cost of doing business is pushing many local businesses to the edge. For many, the challenges are as great as they were at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.

“And yet, local businesses are at the heart of villages, towns and cities throughout Scotland – without accommodation providers, attractions, shops, bars and restaurants, many communities would cease to exist. 

“By enjoying a staycation or planning a day trip this summer, people can discover all the amazing experiences that we have on our doorstep – while supporting local businesses that keep millions of pounds-worth of spending in local communities and protect thousands of jobs.

“By loving local this summer, we can continue to build better places in which to live, work and visit.”

In the Scottish Highlands, Visit Inverness Loch Ness – the Tourism Business Improvement District representing 400 members across 1,200 square miles around Inverness and Loch Ness – is urging locals to enjoy the region’s attractions this summer through support of the Scotland Loves Local campaign, as well as encouraging local businesses to support each other.

Chief Executive Michael Golding said: “What I love here is that, outside of Inverness, everyone else is from small communities, most of them have only a few hundred people living there. 

The small and micro-business owners there are a key part of those communities. They’re completely ingrained in them – and they’ve all bought into the Scotland Loves Local message.

“We need to support local, we need to send people to each other’s businesses and keep them in the area. That’s something that we help to do – bringing people together, creating collaborations and helping make sure that we keep people in the area longer, increasing their spend and making the area more sustainable while we do that. 

“Having people stay local, be local, shop local, and enjoy authentic products and authentic food experiences, is a core theme for us.”

While the Scottish Tourism Index found that the Highlands and Islands remain the most popular staycation destination, city breaks and day-trips are also on the up, with 9% of respondents planning a trip to Edinburgh this summer, and 8% to Glasgow.

Jim Eccleston, Managing Partner at 56 Degree Insight, said: “Our proprietary Scottish Tourism Index survey has shown an uptick in overseas holidays for 2023, but this is not at the expense of domestic breaks – with plans for staycations over the rest of the year very similar to trends that have sustained since the pandemic.

“With restrictions around finances resulting from the cost of living crisis impacting decisions around holidays to more far-flung destinations, there is a clear opportunity for people to explore the best of what is on their doorstep – supporting Scottish businesses and local economies in the process.”

Scotland’s multi-billion pound tourism industry is directly responsible for about 5% of Scotland’s GDP and in the region of 7% of national employment.

Visitors on the shores of Loch Ness. Tourism is vital to local economies across Scotland.