Scottish Government supports social tourism

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Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop congratulated the ScotSpirit partnership work of VisitScotland and the Family Holiday Association during her keynote speech to the Tourism Society’s Symposium in Edinburgh last month.

ScotSpirit was VisitScotland’s £-multi-million international marketing programme that also contained an innovative social tourism programme that supported struggling Scottish families access hundreds of short breaks and day trips donated by over 30 tourism industry partners.

Click here to view clip of Fiona Hyslop’s speech.

The programme is being repeated this year with increased numbers of partners and aims to help even more families.

The Scottish Government has recently asked civil servants to draw up a report for ministers on the potential of social tourism to impact on both well-being and the domestic tourism economy.

Evidence will not only be gathered from the experience of other European social tourism programmes it will also seek input from recent academic work on the multiple benefits of people accessing breaks away from home.

Fiona Hyslop’s full speech can be viewed here.

Also see

Scottish Parliament debates social tourism

Social Tourism is gaining traction in Scotland

 

Scottish Parliament debates social tourism

The work of the Family Holiday Association was given top billing during a recent debate in the Scottish Parliament. 

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Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs introducing the Inclusive Tourism debate – Tuesday 14 March 2017

Following VisitScotland’s successful ScotSpirit campaign last year and the social tourism pilot in Glasgow last October, the Scottish Government scheduled the following motion for debate that began –

“That the Parliament recognises the vital role that tourism plays in Scotland’s prosperity, not only in its direct economic impact, but in the many ways that it can help to tackle the inequalities that exist in society; notes the recent collaboration by VisitScotland, the Family Holiday Association, Historic Environment Scotland and the many industry partners to provide ScotSpirit Breaks for families in difficult circumstances, which has shown the positive impact that the industry can have on improving the lives and life-chances of people who are not able to step outside their everyday routine…” My emphasis.

The following video is only a small portion of the debate that lasted over two and a half hours and garnered cross-party support.

The full debate can be seen here and the transcript can be downloaded here – Official Report 14 March 2017. Continue reading

Such a lot has happened in the past 15 months

Searching through Google can throw up some interesting results; well, in this instance, for me anyway.

As part of constructing a brief for our work in Scotland I happened across a YouTube clip of me speaking at our charity’s 2015 Holidays Matter conference at the Excel Centre in London.  It’s footage I had not seen before.

The conference was held during that year’s World Travel Market and a WTM cameraman appeared and asked what we were doing.  I recall having the microphone thrust into my hand and being asked to talk about the event.

Looking at the video – which is only 15 months old – reminds me of how far we have come in such a short period of time, particularly in our relationship with VisitScotland.

Because shortly after the conference we were invited to partner VisitScotland in their huge ScotSpirit campaign and we also went on to successfully complete the Glasgow pilot programme.

And only last week John Kinnear, our Programme Manager, and I travelled to Glasgow to participate in a VisitScotland roundtable; the aim of which was to discuss how best to take social tourism forward north of the border.  The most significant outcome of the meeting was an agreement to see the essence of the ScotSpirit campaign repeated in 2017 but on a much expanded scale.

At a meeting immediately following the roundtable, Fiona Hyslop the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for External Affairs announced that on Tuesday 14 March there is to be a debate in the Scottish Parliament on “inclusive tourism” and that social tourism and our work with VisitScotland was to feature heavily in the debate. Exciting times.

Look out for news of the March debate and its outcome.

Social tourism in the UK – a short history

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Social tourism, as a term, is not well known in the UK and is even less understood. 

But actually helping people access a break is a long-established practice here; indeed, a recent on-line social tourism survey carried out by the University of Nottingham and the University of Exeter of the not-for-profit sector in England and Wales alone showed that upwards of 600 registered charities provided, as part of the help they offer to people, support with breaks and day trips.

“To give children a holiday in the country does not at once fit them to become either useful workers and desirable members of the community or healthy parents of a new generation, but it affords an admirable stimulus to all manifestations of their physical and moral progress.” The Lancet[1] June 1907

From the Industrial Revolution and well into the first part of last century, the more benevolent factory owners organised holidays for their employees and, even today, some employer and trade union schemes still exist. However, there is no equivalent to be found here in the UK to compare to the social tourism facilities and structures common in mainland Europe. Continue reading

Social tourism is gaining traction in Scotland

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Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs meets with families and business partners involved in the VisitScotland ‘ScotSpirit’ breaks initiative at the Glasgow Science Centre.

Over the past seven years the Family Holiday Association has been actively engaging with organisations in Scotland to promote the benefits of social tourism. There have been roundtable discussions in Edinburgh and Glasgow, debates in the Scottish Parliament, discussions with politicians from the main political parties and joint projects with charities across the country.

Now seventy families facing some of the toughest challenges life can bring will be able to enjoy a day out thanks to a new partnership between VisitScotland, the Family Holiday Association and Scotland’s tourism industry.

The pilot programme was launched at the Glasgow Science Centre by the Cabinet Secretary Fiona Hyslop who recognised the need for everyone to be able to have a holiday particularly people living in difficult circumstances .  I was particularly delighted to be able to meet and thank  Stewart Lorimer, Hilton Worldwide’s General Manager and Jannine Russell from Scotrail for their companies’ generous support and Lee Anthony of One Parent Families Scotland one of the partner organisations.

After an appeal by VisitScotland to visitor attractions, transport companies and other public bodies, over 300 people from disadvantaged backgrounds —including 200 children — will receive a much-needed break this October. Families from the West of Scotland will be among the first in Scotland to take part in the initiative. Continue reading