Rural Scotland’s communities offered tourism expertise to support local recovery

A programme to help community development organisations and social enterprises support the recovery of rural Scotland’s tourism sector is being launched today (Wednesday 1 July).


People working in community development with an interest in tourism, can apply for one of 15 places in the ‘Communities Leading in Tourism’ initiative starting in late September and running until December.


The 12-day programme will give participants an in-depth understanding of the complexities of the tourism sector, including exploring the challenges and opportunities faced following the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s designed to develop the leadership skills needed to influence, plan and support sustainable tourism recovery.
This is the second of three intakes of candidates for the ground-breaking pilot programme which has been developed by social and economic development agencies Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE).


Professor Russel Griggs OBE, Chair of SOSE, said: “The impact of the pandemic on tourism businesses and jobs is being felt in every one of our communities. In many rural towns and villages, local people have been at the heart of co-ordinating the emergency response to the pandemic. This programme will not only help equip community organisations obtain vital knowledge and leadership skills, but it will also enable them to successfully support local activity to safely welcome visitors back.”


Douglas Cowan, director of Communities and Place at HIE, said: “When we developed this programme, we wanted to build a Scotland wide network of community leaders connecting local development and tourism. As we tackle the impacts of COVID-19 in rural Scotland, community leadership is more important than ever. Engaging communities is an essential part of developing sustainable tourism going forward.”
The Social Enterprise Academy (SEA), which has supported over 14,000 social economy learners, is delivering the blended learning programme of six live online learning sessions, six days of online learning, and three planned two-day residential tourism visits in Skye, the Trossachs and Stranraer. (The residential part of the programme will be subject to all COVID-19 government conditions.)


David Bryan, of SEA, said: “This programme is about communities taking control of the future of tourism in their areas. We will look at some great examples of communities deciding what sort of tourism they want, and then making it happen. The programme ends with everyone having developed their own action plan and gained the skills to implement it.”


Applications are open now until the end of August. Discover more information on the programme and how to apply here