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Getting tourism ready for recovery

Posted: 21st April 2020

Edinburgh Napier University and Scottish Enterprise aim to help small businesses bounce back

A call has gone out to those with skills, expertise and experience, who are currently ‘furloughed’ or on a reduced working pattern, to help address the challenges facing Scotland’s tourism sector.

In 2017, the sector provided employment for eight out of every 100 Scottish workers[1], but thousands of tourism business owners are naturally feeling anxious about the future in the wake of coronavirus.

The call to arms – ‘Getting ready for recovery’ – has been championed by around 120 alumni of the Destination Leaders Programme (DLP), a joint initiative for tourism industry professionals delivered for the past seven years by Edinburgh Napier University and Scottish Enterprise.

DLP alumni to mentor furloughed tourism workers along the road to recovery

The aim of the furlough initiative is to help small tourism businesses recover by providing targeted support and mentoring that can enable them to take forward identified actions, outputs and outcomes during this period of enforced reflection.

“It is intended that involvement will fall under the acceptable category of professional training for ‘furloughed’ professionals, and will help maintain and extend their professional skills, expertise, experience and networks,” explains Professor Jane Ali-Knight of Edinburgh Napier University’s Business School.

This will mean projects taken up will be focused on objectives that underpin The Scottish Tourism Strategy to 2030, as well as wider destination leadership, development, management, industry resilience and recovery, and destination promotion.

Aileen Lamb from Scottish Enterprise says: “The objective is to support recovery and potential restructure of the Scottish tourism industry. We want to use this opportunity to encourage innovative thinking across a range of themes. Most importantly we want to encourage the supportive and adaptable nature of tourism professionals to shine. The initiative will include a weekly online session called DLP Assemble giving businesses a collaborative place to gather regular updates on initiatives and government funding as we look towards the point when restrictions can be lifted.”

Ali-Knight says: “We will guide participants on themes and tasks arising through the DLP Assemble initiative, to help form project groups with a good mix of experience and expertise, and to match groups with mentors and professional support.”

Kenneth Wardrop, a fellow DLP founder, says: “We want to act quickly, working with existing groups such as ETAG [Edinburgh Tourism Action Group] and STERG [Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group] in order to start applying practical thinking and solutions in response to the evolving and devastating impacts on Scotland’s tourism industry.”

Edinburgh Napier University is also running a free online course through FutureLearn to help small tourism businesses understand the power of data they hold or can access in helping them market themselves more effectively at this critical time.

‘Understanding Data in Tourism’ is open now for people to register for the next starting point, on 16 May, by visiting futurelearn.com https://www.futurelearn.com/partners/edinburgh-napier-university

[1] https://www2.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Tourism

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