Community Tourism: The Role of Social Enterprise

This paper is part of a series of Senscot Briefings which aim to showcase the approach that social enterprise is taking to address a range of complex social issues across Scotland. This Briefing will explore how bringing local people and businesses together with third sector partners can help increase both visitor numbers and the quality of visitor experience – to the benefit of the local community.

In 2012, an industry-led national tourism strategy, Tourism Scotland 2020 (TS2020), was published. The strategy, headed by the Scottish Tourism Alliance, stated a vision that “Scotland will be a destination of first choice for a high quality, value for money and memorable customer experience, delivered by skilled and passionate people”.
The strategy had two main focuses: identifying markets which offered the highest growth potential, and cultivating a greater level of collaboration between Scotland’s key tourist destinations. It is hoped that the strategy will see Scotland increase its total visitor spend from £4.5bn to over £5.5bn by 2020. However, a mid-term review indicated that, while the strategy’s framework remains fit for purpose, the target of a £1bn increase in visitor spend was still some way off.
Community-led tourism initiatives have an important role to play in achieving this goal, as recognised by the Scottish Government in a strategic letter of guidance to Visit Scotland, encouraging it to “engage regularly with Scotland’s communities to help them make the most of their own local tourism resources”.

Tourism-focussed social enterprises can empower communities to grow their individual tourism markets by putting local people and community assets at the heart of a collaborative approach to growing visitor numbers. Forging a network of local initiatives will be key if Scotland is to achieve the stated aims of TS2020.

Read the full paper here.