Understanding Scottish Tourism

By | Category: Travel rumblings

I confess I am perplexed.
Scotland has a strong image to attract tourists. It has history, a unique culture, heritage, scenery, a tremendous success in the Edinburgh Festival, empty roads for the most part in the highlands and yet the industry constantly seems in ferment. The National Trust for Scotland had had a difficult couple of years and I’m not sure members believed it any good at organising or running much at all. Visit Scotland has seen of its long term chief executive with a handsome payoff and some of its paymasters are grumbling about the results they have had back from their work. Small groups of individuals are banding together into their own promotion groups unhindered by the larger bodies and funded, more often than not, only by themselves. Now Deloittes have come up with a thought that Scotland has woefully under-calculated the value of tourism to the Scottish economy. Generally, it is thought that tourism is worth £4 billion to Scotland. The Deloittes report suggests more than double that at £11 billion. This suggests it is more important than the financial services industry. By 2020, the report suggests that tourism could be worth as much as £17.8 billion per year.
Should we believe this just because Deloittes say so? How can the Scottish government have calculated it so differently? It appears that Deloittes have added in the indirect value as well which I would take to mean those extra purchases that visitors spend at supermarkets, garages and so on. That leads to additional employment which should provide greater tax revenues for the government. But this isn’t rocket science. Other destinations have been calculating this for years. Surely, the Scots had done so as well?
Another study has suggested that with the additional space and facilities at the Nation Museums in Edinburgh when it re-opens next year will generate an additional £10 million into the economy raising the total to £58 million. Admittedly, the Scottish government provides a £20 million grant but this seems to show it might be earning nearly three times as much for its investment. But should this be believed? Who knows? All I know is that if everything is so rosy and all this money is coming in why are so many unhappy. Now at least the mess at the National Trust for Scotland looks to have been resolved with members voting overwhelmingly for change.
And does any of this matter to us, the visitor? Well yes it does because the more tourism is worth the more likely that there will be investment in things to appeal to the visitor. Better toilet facilities, better transport connections, greater offers and more information.

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