ASVA has been pleased to promote, over recent months, the fully-funded Scottish Tourism Leadership Programme to ensure our members take advantage of the outstanding and highly motivational professional and personal development opportunities for current and aspiring leaders in our industry.

We’re particularly keen to encourage attraction members to sign up for, and benefit from, one of the Programme’s final three courses – this is specifically designed for personnel working in the visitor attractions sector. The real-time online course is completely free, thanks to Scottish Government tourism recovery funding for this year, so we do hope as many representatives from ASVA attractions will make the most of the chance to take part.

It’s the first time that the acclaimed Scottish Tourism Leadership Programme has offered a course exclusively for our sector, so this is a particularly relevant and valuable training opportunity for our members.

The Visitor Attractions Sector course takes place on 19 & 20 January and 2 February, and the applications deadline is 9 January.

The course content, which aims to inspire and uplift, has been developed by Scottish Enterprise, the South of Scotland Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and Skills Development Scotland, in partnership with Edinburgh Napier University’s Professor Jane Ali-Knight and Kenneth Wardrop.

The course features speakers including Susan Deighan of Glasgow Life, V & A Dundee Director Leonie Bell, and Abbi Ollive, Head of Marketing, Sales and Programming at Castle Howard. Also included is a panel discussion involving Royal Yacht Britannia CEO Bob Downie, Professor Anna Leask of Napier University, and Scottish Tourism Alliance Strategy Project Manager Karen Christie. The course itinerary is available here.

In addition to the Visitor Attractions Sector course, applications are open for: Rural (South) course : 9, 10 & 23 February (30 January application deadline), and Pan-Scotland course : 2, 3 & 16 March (20 February application deadline).

You can find further information on the Scottish Tourism Leadership Programme and details of how to apply for all three of the courses here.

We’d urge line managers to encourage their team members to sign up for these courses and take advantage of the last of the Programme’s fully-funded places. If you know anyone who would benefit from the excellent training opportunity offered and the chance to connect with other tourism leaders or aspiring leaders, please do encourage them to apply.

In these very challenging times for our industry and sector, whilst so much uncertainty remains, we appreciate that it’s tough to make time commitments however whilst this funding support is still available, it’s an ideal time to sign up for these courses. They will certainly stand participants in good stead for the future, as well as providing a motivational boost to help individuals and businesses keep driving forward.

Those who have recently taken part in Scottish Tourism Leadership Programme courses have commented on how much they’ve valued the experience, and connecting with others working in the industry and experiencing the same challenges. Many participants have advised that, taking part in the Programme has not only helped them considerably through the course learnings they’ve gained, but has also given them renewed optimism and drive for the future – a welcome and much-needed additional benefit, given our sector’s current difficult circumstances.

A new series of Complete Storytelling workshops, which are specifically designed for businesses and organisations across all sectors of Scotland’s tourism industry, will take place in the New Year. This outstanding new training opportunity has been created to support recovery from the continuing impacts of the pandemic and help operators to capitalise on the opportunities presented by Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022.

In-person and online attendees at Scotland’s Tourism Industry Conference will remember the inspirational presentation by storytelling experts Complete Works on the importance of creating and delivering engaging, memorable stories to enhance customer service delivery, ensure exceptional consumer experiences and boost business.

Following the presentation, ASVA CEO Gordon Morrison announced that Complete Works would lead a series of Complete Storytelling workshops early in the new Themed Year for colleagues across Scotland’s tourism industry. The events follow the success of a pilot series of five workshops arranged for ASVA members during the summer. These were extremely well-received – 97% of attendees said the workshop either exceeded or fully matched their expectations and over 90% said they would implement the course content.

The 10 Complete Storytelling workshops which will take place in locations across Scotland during February and March, are being offered to colleagues across Scottish tourism thanks to funding support provided by Skills Development Scotland through the Tourism Recovery Programme. As a result, places for the in-person one-day workshops are available at the vastly reduced rate of only £50 inclusive of VAT. (This calibre of training would normally cost in the region of £150-£200 per person.)

Designed to provide the tools needed to stimulate business recovery, the highly motivational Complete Storytelling workshops provide an outstanding opportunity to find out how to unlock the power of stories to enhance your service delivery and boost your bottom line, and how stories can help transform consumers into ambassadors, generating repeat visits, recommendations and increased secondary spend.

Workshop delegates will learn how to use storytelling to engage, sell, and create brand loyalty through communications and sales skills. Using performance techniques, the experienced Complete Works professional trainers hone participants’ skills in Body Language and Voice, teaching tried and tested tips and tricks used by actors and presenters. The sessions break down the fears and boundaries that prohibit truly effective communication, through practicing practical methods in a safe, supported, inspiring environment.

The dates and locations of the 10 Complete Storytelling workshops, plus links to book places at each, are provided in the events section of our website: https://asva.co.uk/events/.

Following the First Minister’s announcement earlier this week that, in light of the escalating cases of the Omicron COVID variant, businesses are now required to take practicable measures to minimise the risk of transmission, The Scottish Government has today (Thursday, 16 December) published updated guidance for the tourism and hospitality industries.

Including procedures for staff and customer safety, and an operations checklist, the updated tourism and hospitality guidance can be accessed via this link.

This sector guidance should be used in conjunction with the Scottish Government’s latest general guidance for safer workplaces, which is available here.

As we have already highlighted to ASVA members, no new mandatory actions are required to be taken by businesses, however they are advised to take any available steps to ensure visitor and staff safety, such as:

  • Queue management
  • Ordering systems
  • One way systems
  • Table service in cafes/restaurants
  • Use of protective screens
  • Capacity management

We know, and have communicated to the Scottish Government, that attractions are already operating with excellent COVID-mitigating measures in place, but we would urge ASVA members to take any additional steps they think most necessary to reassure visitors and staff.

We will continue to update members should the guidance change.

In her latest COVID statement to the Scottish Parliament today, Tuesday 14 December, the First Minister announced that further protective measures are necessary to slow the spread of the Omicron variant whilst the pace of the booster vaccination programme is accelerated.

The First Minister advised that people are strongly recommended to limit, as far as possible, the number of people outside their own households that they interact with. She also stated that the Scottish Government intends to amend regulations to put a legal requirement on those running businesses or providing services to ‘take measures which are reasonably practicable to minimise the risk of transmission’, such as steps to control customer flow.

Ms Sturgeon said that guidance will be issued this week to make clear what that means for different sectors. Following her announcement, ASVA reached out to the Scottish Government to seek clarity for Scotland’s attractions sector. 

With regards to what the ‘protective measures’ are likely to be, ASVA’s understanding is that it is unlikely there will be mandated regulations such as physical distancing or one-way systems. Instead, the requirement will simply be that businesses must take appropriate action to limit crowds and control queuing.  We are very confident that most of our attraction members are already operating with COVID protocols that will satisfy this requirement.

Our CEO, Gordon Morrison said: ‘’I continue to emphasise to the Scottish Government our sector’s commitment to minimising transmission risks and the exemplary standards it has adhered to throughout the pandemic. In addition, I’ve highlighted the fact that the vast majority of attractions have voluntarily retained many COVID-mitigating protocols, above and beyond current requirements, to ensure the safety of visitors and staff.  And whilst our understanding is that the ‘practical measures’ the First Minister referred to are likely to be measures already widely in place across our sector, I have noted my concerns that if certain requirements – most particularly 2-metre physical distancing –were to be mandated once more, there would be serious economic consequences for visitor attractions.”

The First Minister also announced today that £100 million to support the hospitality sector will be made available. Whilst this is welcome news, there has not yet been an indication of how this will be distributed. ASVA has therefore sought clarification on whether attractions with hospitality elements will be included – as we certainly believe they should be.

Gordon continued: “We have been advocating strongly for financial support for our sector and I have been at pains to ensure Government officials are aware that not only have attractions not seen any kind of recovery this year – with visitor numbers down by 65.6% compared to 2019 – many attractions, just like hospitality venues, are reporting cancellations of Christmas events. They are also now seeing a further downturn in visitor numbers and significantly reduced trade in their cafes and restaurants. Sadly too, whilst the Days Out campaign had been expected to drive visitation, this has not had the benefits anticipated due to the public’s concerns about rising COVID cases.

“We will keep our sector updated as soon as we have further clarity and guidance. In the meantime, I’d like to reassure our members that we will continue to advocate on your behalf and do our best to ensure our sector receives the support it needs to navigate through the current stage of the pandemic.”

There was mixed reaction to the Scottish Budget for 2022/23, announced on Thursday 9 December. Whilst news of the continuation of rates relief was welcomed, the consensus from the country’s industry sectors was that the support measures noted by the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy were less than adequate. 

From the perspective of tourism, there was disappointingly little in the Budget that directly references our industry.  The only statement of importance was that rates relief for the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will continue at 50% for the first three months of the next financial year, capped at £27,500 per ratepayer, while smaller businesses will be exempt from paying rates. Even this positive development, however, fell significantly short of what had been hoped for. 

More disappointing though was the fact that there was no specific mention by Kate Forbes MSP of any measures to support Scotland’s attractions sector.  

ASVA CEO Gordon Morrison commented: “My initial reaction on hearing the Budget was one of disappointment that so little is being done to aid our sector and wider tourism industry.

“Ms Forbes made reference to the Fiscal Commission forecasting that our economy will recover to pre-pandemic levels by April–June 2022. This may well be the case across the economy as a whole, but it is undeniable that our sector most certainly won’t have recovered in six months time.

“Although we’ve been appreciative of the support offered by the Scottish Government over the last 20 months, it is very unsatisfactory that there was no recognition in this Budget that our sector has not had any significant opportunity to progress its recovery in 2021 and Scotland’s attractions will still be in a difficult position in 2022.

“Whilst we of course welcome additional short-term rates relief for those members who will be able to benefit from it, it is much more than just short-term support that our sector is in need of.  Data we have presented to the Scottish Government shows that many attractions are in survival mode at the moment as they battle to make it through the winter with barely any cash reserves. Recovery is still a long way off and our sector certainly won’t be back on its feet by June 2022.

“There is no doubt that more action is needed to sustain our sector and assist its recovery, and we need both the Scottish and UK Governments to recognise that greater support measures are required than those currently on the table. ASVA will continue to work closely alongside other associations and industry groups to inform and influence policy makers about the status of our sector and the support that’s required to enable the industry to not simply scrape through another season, but to build back better and meet our collective ambition of being world leaders in 21st century tourism.”

During ASVA’s Annual General Meeting – which was held via Zoom on Monday, 29 November – nominations were voted on for new Members of the Board of ASVA.

The resignation of Bruce Ritchie, Katie Waugh, Kat Brogan and Anne Kinnes (all of whom were thanked by our Chair Susan Morrison for their contributions to ASVA’s Board) had resulted in four Director positions becoming available. Our new Directors, whose appointments were confirmed during the AGM, are:

Barbara Smith – Managing Director, Scotland Brand Homes, Diageo

Pauline Young – Managing Director, Mackintosh at the Willow

Jillian Schofield – Marketing Team Lead, Falkirk Leisure Community Trust

Dr Victoria Hollows – CEO, Renfrewshire Leisure

In addition, during the meeting, it was confirmed that Sally Rae, of ASVA trade member Eden Scott Recruitment, will continue as a Board member representing our trade members for a second three-year term.

Following the official business of the AGM, our CEO Gordon Morrison provided an update on ASVA’s activities over the past year, plans for 2022, and our new five-year strategy, including our new Vision, Mission and Values. (Our five-year strategic plan is available in the Members Area of our website, under the Management Information section.

VisitScotland’s new Director of Industry & Destination Development, Rob Dickson, also addressed AGM attendees on what 2022 holds for the Scottish tourism industry, highlighting the national tourism organisation’s key priorities for the year ahead.

40 speakers will bring fresh insights and inspiration to the EICC next week at Scotland’s Tourism Industry Conference – the first major industry conference to take place since the outbreak of Covid-19 in March 2020.

Organised and delivered jointly by the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA), the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA), HIT Scotland (Hospitality Industry Trust), and Scotland Food & Drink, the event on 24 & 25 November is themed around rebuilding tourism together. The two-day programme is designed to deliver knowledge, best practice and new insights, – focusing on areas such as sustainability and the industry journey towards Net Zero, traveller behaviour in a recovering economy, food tourism trends, emerging trends from a global perspective, the conditions necessary for recovery and growth, and creating memorable experiences – all of which will help build resilience to support Scotland’s tourism strategy vision that ‘Scotland will be the world leaders in 21st century tourism’.

This will be the biggest speaker line-up to date for a national industry conference; the event has drawn international industry experts and thought leaders such as travel journalist Simon Calder, Peter Martin – Founder and Executive Director Peach 2020, James Bulmer, CEO – Wonderland Restaurants, Hotelier of the Year – Sally Beck, and Bernard Donoghue, CEO – Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, to name just a few.

The theme of creating supportive policy is high on the agenda for the first day of the conference, with the Ministerial Address being delivered by Scottish Government Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism & Enterprise Ivan McKee MSP followed by what will be an informative and engaging panel discussion around the biggest issues and challenges to the recovery of the industry and what policies are needed to support and rebuild tourism. There will also be updates on some of the priority recovery activity underway, such as the Tourism Observatory, our journey to a greener recovery, and news on the development of the Outdoor Tourism Strategy.

The event’s packed programme has also been curated to inspire and energise delegates to find better, new, and innovative ways of doing things in the changed and challenging tourism landscape. Insights into overcoming obstacles to achieve greatness will be shared on day 1 by world record-breaking mountaineer and adventurer Mollie Hughes, and on day 2 we’ll hear about the creation of first-of-its-kind experience Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser from Walt Disney Imagineering Executive Producer & Creative Director Ann Morrow Johnson.

As we move from industry survival to recovery, to raise spirits and generate motivation and confidence Tree of Knowledge Owner & Director Gavin Oattes will focus on winning ways of entertaining, enlightening and educating audiences, and former SAS member John Davidson, one of the world’s most sought-after bodyguards John Davidson will highlight how resilience under pressure can be reached.

Scotland’s Tourism Industry Conference will end on a high with a celebration of the achievements of a group of HIT Scotland scholars who will be presented with certificates in recognition of their dedication and success in completing the Tourism and Hospitality Talent Development Programme, which launched earlier this year.

Speaking about the event, STA Chief Executive Marc Crothall said: “It has been an intensely challenging 20 months for Scotland’s tourism industry; many of our sectors and businesses remain in survival mode with a degree of uncertainty ahead, however the mood within the industry is upbeat, positive and one of resilience.  The number of delegates booked to attend the event, both at the EICC and online, reflects the level of desire to reconnect after such a difficult period and look towards rebuilding the industry together, with ambition and focus on developing a globally-recognised, sustainable tourism product. 

“The event has drawn a wide range of hugely exciting experts from many sectors of tourism within the UK and abroad, so delegates can look forward to taking home practical, innovative and new solutions to support the recovery and future growth of their businesses.”

ASVA CEO Gordon Morrison said: “This is a highly-anticipated and hugely significant conference for the tourism industry. We have an outstanding two-day programme with a stellar line-up of 40 specialist speakers, and we are excited to be bringing the whole tourism industry together to take very important steps in reconnecting, recharging and rebuilding.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming colleagues from across the country – whether in-person or virtually – to this major industry gathering. I’ve absolutely no doubt that delegates will find the entire event both highly relevant and incredibly valuable as we collectively continue to navigate our way through the COVID pandemic and begin the journey of not just rebuilding, but reimagining what our wonderful industry can deliver for Scotland in 2022 and beyond.”

Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism & Enterprise Ivan McKee MSP said: “Scotland’s tourism and hospitality industry is a key sector of the Scottish economy and I am looking forward to attending the first in-person conference hosted by the industry in two years. It’s been an incredibly difficult year for tourism and hospitality but it is important that we look towards a sustainable recovery. In recent years both the public and private sector have worked closely together to further our collective aims for Scottish tourism and we are keen to build on this relationship as we move forward.

“We all have a part to play and the conference will showcase some of the commitments being taken forward as part of the £25 million tourism recovery funding and how we can collectively ensure a strong and resilient future for Scottish tourism.”

Visitor attractions can take advantage of further opportunities to benefit from the VisitScotland Days Out Incentive Fund – the £4 million Scottish Government-funded initiative created specifically to support our sector.

When the Fund opened originally, the ‘window’ to apply was very limited. Recognising that as a result, some attractions missed out on the chance to submit an application, Phase 2 of the Days Out Incentive Fund opened on Monday, 8 November.

The deadline for applications is Tuesday, 30 November and all eligible attractions across Scotland that haven’t already taken advantage of the funding on offer are encouraged not to miss out on this new opportunity. Information on Phase 2 and details of how to apply can be found here.

Through the Days Out Incentive Fund, subsidies are being made available to attractions, as well as outdoor, adventure and wildlife activities operators, to enable them to offer discounted ticket promotions to drive visitation during the off-season. Successful applicants to Phase 1 of Fund are currently promoting half-price ticket offers to attract visitors through the winter months.

To be eligible to apply for funding, attractions and activities open for business between now and February must have a listing on VisitScotland.com and be signed up to the ‘We’re Good to Go’ COVID-19 industry standard. Businesses have the flexibility to choose which days or weeks they wish to apply the discount within the promotional period, and the channels (online or offline) they use.

VisitScotland has launched a special marketing campaign to promote the Days Out discount offers to consumers. The Great Days Out in Scotland campaign, which runs to mid-February, is designed to encourage people to get out and about during the coming months to make the most of ticket promotions from participating attractions and activity operators. The campaign uses a multi-channel approach across visitscotland.com digital, social, radio & press to drive visits to attractions as part of a day out or a short break.

A dedicated toolkit is available to help successful applicants of Phases 1 and 2 of the Days Out Incentive Fund to promote the special ticket discounts they’re able to offer thanks to the subsidies. The toolkit and advice can be accessed via the visitscotland.org page How Your Business Can Promote the Great Days Out in Scotland campaign, which can be accessed here.

We are pleased to invite all ASVA members to attend our Annual General Meeting, which will take place on Monday, 29 November, at 10am.

This year’s AGM will be held virtually, via Zoom. Members can register by clicking here.

The agenda for the meeting can be found at this link.

The AGM Minutes referred to in item 2 of the agenda can be found in the Members’ Area of our website. Please click on ‘ASVA Management Information’, followed by ‘ASVA Organisational Information’ to access the Minutes. The Financial Statements noted in item 3 can also be found in the ‘ASVA Management Information’ section of our website Members’ Area, under ‘Annual Accounts’.

Members who would like any items or questions raised in agenda item 5, ‘Any Other Business’, are asked to email these to info@asva.co.uk by 5pm on Monday, 22 November.

At the conclusion of the formal business of the AGM, our CEO Gordon Morrison will speak about ASVA’s activities over the past year and outline our plans for 2022 – including introducing members to our new Vision and Mission Statements as part of our new five-year Strategy for the organisation.

We are also delighted that VisitScotland’s new Director of Industry & Destination Development, Rob Dickson, will attend our AGM to talk to our Members on what 2022 holds for the country’s tourism industry and outline the priorities for VisitScotland.

We hope that as many ASVA members will be able to join us (virtually) for our AGM on Monday, 29 November.

Survey reveals ‘survival not recovery’ is the priority for the majority of the sector.

Staffing crisis caused by Brexit compounds challenges caused by the lack of international visitors – and there’s been no ‘staycation boom’. 

The latest survey of Scotland’s visitor attractions has revealed that the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to devastate the sector – and it has seen no evidence of a ‘staycation boom’.

Conducted on behalf of ASVA by Glasgow Caledonian University’s Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism Development, the survey on business performance and prospects highlights that survival rather than recovery is the current priority for operators.

Less than half of the sector (48.1%) is currently fully open and more than one in ten attractions remain closed. A further 40.9% are operating with reduced hours or limited facilities because of the impacts of both the pandemic and Brexit.

ASVA CEO Gordon Morrison said:“The pandemic has had a truly devastating impact on Scotland’s visitor attractions and these latest results provide further evidence that this impact is still very much being felt. I cannot emphasise strongly enough that, despite a number of media reports to the contrary, there’s been no ‘staycation boom’ or widespread economic recovery for our sector this year, and we face a very challenging winter period ahead. With very few international visitors and restrictive regulations that severely limited viable trading throughout the spring and summer, the window of opportunity to trade successfully has been extremely limited and, as a result we’re still concerned about the survival, not the recovery, of much of our sector as we move into the off-season.”

Professor John Lennon, Director of the Moffat Centre at GCU, said: Tourism like many other industries in Scotland has been hugely impacted by the loss of EU workers as a direct consequence of Brexit. The ability to adequately and safely staff operations has become the next insurmountable challenge.”

Just over 180 organisations representing 353 individual attractions took part in what was the first survey of attractions since the majority of restrictions were lifted across the country and Scotland moved to ‘beyond Level 0’. Key data provided by survey respondents on performance indicated:

  • More than a third of attractions (34.3%) are not currently operating at an economically sustainable level.
  • Turnover is down by over 50% at over a third of attractions (35.8%) this year when compared to the same period in 2019, with only one in twenty (5.5%) operating with a turnover at or above 2019 levels.
  • More than one in five attractions has less than 3 months financial reserves as they head into the off-season.
  • Almost half (47.5%) of the sector has seen a decrease in visitor numbers of greater than 50% this year, compared to the same period in 2019.
  • With fewer than 8% of attractions reporting visitor numbers at or above pre-pandemic levels, it’s clear that, despite media reports suggesting tourism has benefited from a ‘staycation boom’, there has been no widespread economic recovery for Scotland’s attractions this year.

In terms of attractions’ prospects and for future recovery, the survey revealed that:

  • The impact of the pandemic will be felt beyond the short-term. Just under 45% of attractions are reporting less or no investment in new facilities and infrastructure in the 2021/22 year. 42% have also seen less or no investment in staff development, with 45% reporting a significant reduction in investment in leadership development. This could have profound, long-term consequences for the sector, as well as our country’s ambition to be a world leader in 21st century tourism, as set out in Scotland’s National Tourism Strategy ‘Outlook 2030’.
  • Recruitment is one of a number of significant challenges holding back the sector’s recovery. Just under half of attractions (48.6%) are facing difficulties in recruiting staff. Almost one in three attractions are currently operating with reduced hours due to staffing issues. Respondents stated that recruitment and retention of staff is currently the 4th most significant barrier to the sector’s short-term recovery.
  • The top three challenges impeding recovery however were the lack of international visitors, ongoing restrictions and regulations, and the lack of domestic visitors.
  • There remains too continued consumer nervousness as the virus continues to spread, raising serious questions about when a full recovery will be possible. As it has throughout the pandemic, however, the attractions sector continues to lead industry efforts to suppress the virus. More than 90% of Scottish attractions currently operate with COVID-mitigating measures in place, despite the majority of these not being required by law.

Gordon Morrison added:“Despite the economic challenges they face, the number one priority for attractions continues to be keeping staff and visitors safe. They have maintained the very highest standards of safety throughout the pandemic; this hasn’t changed even as restrictions have been eased. The fact that over 90% of the sector continues to operate with measures above and beyond those required by law demonstrates its ongoing commitment to ‘stopping the spread’ in Scotland – even when that can be, and often is, to the detriment of business performance. 

“Now more than ever, our sector – which is so important to our country’s £11bn tourism industry – desperately needs continued support from both the government and the public to survive and make it through what will be a very challenging winter period. We know that many attractions will be extending their season into the winter this year in an effort to recoup lost income, and I’d urge the people of Scotland and rest of the UK to get out and explore the wonderful and varied experiences they offer.

“Visitors can expect to enjoy unique, memorable experiences and the warmest of welcomes, along with the highest standard of safety measures. Moreover, with significantly fewer overseas visitors, there are currently more opportunities to explore and experience our world-class attractions with far less of the hustle and bustle often associated with visiting popular sites.”

ASVA’s summary report on the findings of the Moffat Centre survey can be found at this link.

The full survey report can be accessed here.

As we’ve previously highlighted to our attraction members, as part of the Scottish Government’s £25 million tourism recovery programme, VisitScotland has been working closely with ASVA on the development of a Scotland-wide Days Out Incentive Scheme. This is designed specifically to support our sector by encouraging visitation in the off-season.

We’re pleased to confirm that this £4 million initiative – which will enable visitor attractions, as well as outdoor, adventure and wildlife activities operators to apply for funding so they can offer reduced cost ticket promotions – will shortly go live.

Applications for the VisitScotland Days Out Incentive Fund will open at noon on 5 October and close at 5pm on 12 October.

Successful applicants to the Days Out Incentive Fund will be awarded financial support to subsidise the cost of tickets to their visitor attraction or activity. They must apply a promotions mechanic of up to 50% off the cost of a ticket, up to the maximum discount value of £20 per ticket booked.  Discounts can only be applied to bookings where the relevant visit or experience takes place within the promotional period of 4 November to 18 February.

Attractions and activities that are open for business between November and February must have a listing on VisitScotland.com and be signed up to the ‘We’re Good to Go’ COVID-19 industry standard to be eligible to apply to the Days Out Incentive Fund.  

VisitScotland will be launching a marketing campaign to promote the Days Out Scheme and inspire people to make the most of its ticket promotions to experience attractions around the country during the quieter winter months. We would strongly encourage all eligible ASVA attraction members to apply to the Incentive Fund so they can take advantage of the business-boosting potential that the Days Out Scheme offers.

Further information on the Days Out Incentive Fund can be found at this link and details on eligibility criteria and further guidance can be accessed here.

Gordon Morrison, ASVA CEO, said: “The pandemic has had a devastating impact on Scotland’s visitor attractions and the window of opportunity for their recovery has been extremely limited this year; the vast majority are still very much in survival mode. Our attractions are at the core of our country’s identity, culture and communities, and will play a pivotal role in the economic recovery of the £11bn tourism industry – so they desperately need additional, short-term support for what will be a very challenging winter period ahead. The launch of this tailored initiative for our sector is therefore very important and timely.

“With international tourists unlikely to return in significant numbers for some time yet, the patronage of people in Scotland is more important now than ever before. The VisitScotland Days Out Scheme will stimulate increased visitation and enable more attractions to extend their season, which in turn will boost footfall and spend in the wider economy.

“Visitors can expect to enjoy unique, memorable experiences and the warmest of welcomes, along with the highest standard of safety measures – which have been praised as exemplary by the Scottish Government. Moreover, with significantly fewer overseas visitors, those taking advantage of the Days Out scheme will have more opportunities to explore and experience our world-class attractions with far less of the hustle and bustle often associated with visiting popular sites.”

VisitScotland Director of Marketing Vicki Miller said: “The loss of international visitors over the past year has had a major impact on visitor attractions, tours and activity providers. The VisitScotland Days Out Voucher Fund will help generate income for this sector during the quieter winter months, as well as help rebuild consumer confidence in the face of COVID-19. “Tourism is a force for good – creating economic and social value in every corner of Scotland and enhancing the wellbeing of everyone who experiences it. Tourism makes Scotland richer, economically and socially, and without it, Scotland would be a much poorer place.”

Tourism Minister Ivan McKee said: “With the loss of many international tourists this year due to the pandemic, this £4 million fund will boost local visitor numbers and support the recovery of Scotland’s world-class tourism attractions. 

“Scotland’s tourism industry is a central plank of our economy and as we begin to carefully emerge and recover from the pandemic, we must work with the tourism industry to seize Scotland’s potential and build an economy for everyone by delivering greater, greener and fairer prosperity.”

ASVA is inviting nominations from its Attraction Members to join its Board of Directors.

The Board meets four times a year and Directors help develop ASVA’s policies and strategies, as well as ensuring the Association stays close to its members. Board membership can also offer opportunities for representation on other decision-making bodies within Scottish tourism, providing further scope to influence policy and strategy outwith the organisation.

There has never been a more crucial time for the industry, as attractions across the country look to recover from the devastating impact of COVID-19. As the voice of the attractions sector in Scotland, ASVA continues to work tirelessly to support it and to lobby on behalf of its members. ASVA Board Directors have played, and will continue to play, a significant role in supporting this work.

ASVA is also changing and developing as an organisation, with a new five-year strategy set to be introduced at the end of 2021. This is therefore an exciting time to be joining the Board.

Applications are welcomed from high-calibre individuals with a real passion for the industry. In addition to undertaking duties required to ensure good governance of the Association, Directors will be expected:

  • To play an active part in supporting and driving forward the organisation
  • To have a sound knowledge of Scotland’s attractions sector and wider tourism industry.

To ensure the Board represents the breadth of ASVA’s membership, the Association is particularly keen to recruit Attraction Members:

  • From the North, South or West of the country
  • From smaller attractions
  • With experience in financial decision-making at a senior level.

Individuals interested in applying should complete this nomination form, including a brief supporting statement (200-300 words), and return it by the deadline of Friday, 3 October 2021. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for a brief, informal interview with ASVA’s Chair Susan Morrison and CEO Gordon Morrison.

Any questions regarding Board membership and responsibilities should be directed in the first instance to Susan Morrison at susan@scotchwhiskyexperience.co.uk. Other queries can be directed to Gordon Morrison at gordon@asva.co.uk.

The final decision on the Board appointments will be made according to the voting procedure laid out in the Articles of Association.

Information on ASVA’s current Board can be found at this link