If there is one thing about Scotland and its move toward advancing tourism, it is that as a nation it is going by the book: by the events management book. Their efforts are develop around the idea that they need a strategy that uses every tool they can use, but that does so in an ever changing way to keep up with the demands of the tough economic times (EventScotland, 2006:3). The world is in competition for the next generation of tourists, and Scotland wants to be its own smart friend and business associate to ensure that they get a financial piece of the action.
To demonstrate their seriousness, they produced a document entitled Scottish Tourism: The Next Decade (Scottish Executive, 2006). In it, they recap the country's efforts since 2000 to first put together a strategy, from which they built an operation framework that supported their work through 2005. With their next publication, however, they took the project to another level and began the process of showing what can happen when many stakeholders (from sectors such as the hospitality and retail components) come together to grow a sustainable level of strong and proud Scottish tourism for today that will not stand still waiting for the future. "(U)nless we grow our tourism sector, we'll lose it to the competition" (Scottish Executive, 2006:1).
A key implementing coordination agency of this effort is EventScotland (viewable at http://EventScotland.org). It was empowered with two main focuses, and then operationalized through a strong supportive collective of resources. VisitScotland.org, for example, is one of the active sites with a focus on attracting businesses, while other sites focus on conventional tourists. Across most of these resources, projects focus on two distinct groups -- the first being people who come to Scotland from other nations, and the second being active visitors who move about inside Scotland to celebrate each distinct region (EventScotland, 2006:62). From this progressive and fast-moving perspective, it is necessary for the players to go beyond traditional marketing and selling steps; just telling people about how good a product Scotland is would be insufficient to keep up with the demands for better and more knowledge (Scottish Executive, 2006). But to reach the goal of increasing total tourism revenues by 50% before 2015, it became obvious that they needed a more direct plan of action. And they did that by identifying several important directives that included: making sure all elements of the drive had a heightened awareness of the market and its trends; managing consistently the quality of what they had to over in order to constantly exceed their visitor's expectations; celebrating the true creative nature of their people and places; and keeping the many stakeholder elements working together and reporting back and forth to strengthen each other (Scottish Executive, 2006:16). Drawing new visitors in from outside is one thing; impressing one's own people and keeping them coming back for more is something entirely different and may be what it takes to being about significant cultural and societal change.
By 2010, the results of this effort had begun to become clear. And for the most part they have already been impressive. In a publication called Investing in Success, the Heritage Lottery Fund (2010) took general notice of what has been happening in the area they called heritage tourism (which they found would have particular importance to Scotland). As they put it detail,
Heritage tourism is not simply about visits to the UK's historic buildings and monuments -- as important as they are. It is also not just about our excellent museums and galleries, or even our rich industrial, maritime and transport heritage. Our stunning landscapes, parks and wildlife sites are also immensely popular with tourists from home and abroad. Some 1.2 billion visits are made to the UK's countryside every year. (p1)
But the number of visits is only part of what was underway. Once better understood, it could for the first time be seen that the tourism sector in the UK was generating in excess of £12.4billion in annual revenues, and was sustaining 195,000 jobs -- a level of attainment that makes it larger than the country's automotive, film and advertising businesses. Within Scotland, it was similarly becoming clear that they were making impressive contributions to heritage tourism because of their unique selection of important land, landscape, animal, greenery and waterway attractions. And with the help of groups like the Scottish Natural Heritage, these sites have been making impressive financial, cultural and social impacts on Scotland and the world.
THE ECONOMICS OF TOURISM: The numbers above give a good indication of how important tourism is as a business sector in the UK and in Scotland. But because the goal of the region's initiatives is to develop and sustain significant revenue improvements across time, it is important to look at other figures as well.
Overall, it appears that in the tourism sector, the UK is in a booming economy. Part of this is surely due to the fact that the meltdown of global economic forces has hit home and forced people to change many living patterns, but it also appears that there is more happening. This "staycation" trend would not likely last if people did not report positive experiences and a willingness to continue going to these places for vacations or day trips. And the statistics are positive. The overall visitation numbers in all UK's sites were up an estimated 17.5%, with commercial profits from related sales in these locations up 40%. Membership in historic and visitor sites hit an all-time high of 3.8 million and visitor enjoyment measures for how well people liked their experiences went up 10% -- all in the year 2009 (Heritage Lottery Fund, 2010:40-41). Estimates are that about 53% of the population visits an historic city or town annually, while upwards of 40% visit area or national museums (pp. 6-7).
Similar, because of Scotland's linkages to natural tourism, the financial returns are visible in other financial returns. Investing in Success once again identifies a number of values and improvements on these grounds. Though there is no single record of the monetary returns for natural heritage tourism, a selection of a number of achievements indicates that some £250 million in annual earnings in Scotland can be attributed to this activity -- and that's without being able to put direct revenue counts on what it means when 70% of 330 million visits are conducted on foot as major numbers of visitors literally climbed all over Scotland's outdoor tourist attractions (Heritage Lottery Fund, 2010:22-23).
THE CULTURAL IMPACT: But being outdoors is not the only impact on tourism advancements for Scotland. Like the rest of the UK, a concerted effort has been underway to reconnect its people and its visitors with a broader spectrum of Scotland's importance by focusing on other unique enhancement. This can be seen in two major ways: one by virtue of what has occurred in its cultural museums, and a second by the current content of some of its major tourism websites that share what is happening in different cities.
The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, for example, received a major influx of supportive dollars to fix its structure and enhance its contents. After extensive renovations, there are now more gallery areas, twice the number of objects for viewing, and numerous other comfort and convenience improvements. As a result, over 2.2 million visitors went to the site in 2007, more than twice the normal count. And, though 54% of these visitors were from Glasgow, 25% were from the rest of Scotland. Only about 8% were from oversees, which means that the nation as a whole has taken a much deeper interest in its own contributions to its country and the world (Heritage Lottery Fund, 2010:30-31).
Similarly, each city is actively featuring campaigns and promoting events that celebrate their activities to this trend. Much of this effort is being directed in other ways by the Department of Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS, 2010). In addition, various local websites for different cities are also instructional. For example, a look at EventScotland.org shows that the nation is particularly proud of its ongoing campaign on the Year of Creative Scotland. This is an exception representation of the social and cultural enhancements under way. On the VisitScotland.org site for businesses, notice is given about how much revenue is being generated.
In a similar way, it is possible to see how some of the cities are promoting their regions. On the site for Aberdeen, people are made aware that Annie Lennox was born there, and that the area is prime for golf. In November, Christmas activities begin, adding to the cultural significance. For Dundee, one can find nature, leisure and romantic outings in the ancient settings. They offer an unusual "therapy Tasting" experience to give visitors a hands-on feel of the area (Surprise Yourself, 2011). And finally, the small town of Paisley is not bashful about proclaiming its connection to the fabric design of…