We recently attended the inaugural Tay Cities Regional Tourism Conference, which covered Angus, Dundee, Perth & Kinross and Fife. It was great to hear from speakers from across the world and also showcasing some of the great tourism offers from Tayside, including a number of social enterprises. The event also updated folk on the Tay Cities Tourism strategy which is currently being worked on by a range of stakeholders.
One of the key messages that we picked up, was digital presence is everything – if folk can’t find out about you easily (and book) online, you don’t exist.
Also that experiences are what an increasing number of tourists want to have – so offering chance to take part in local music, art or anything local and authentic – and delivered by local people. This help to provide sustainable tourism, where local people feel genuinely included and it is not something that is being imposed on them – and adding to the stress of their daily living.
Speakers also talked about partnerships – a good example was a woman in Ireland who offers lovely walking tours along the Irish coast, who teamed up with a restaurant, fishermen, farmers and musicians to give folk a fantastic BBQ and cultural experience on the beach overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. So the Irish tourist board have worked hard at trying to ensure that the local communities understands that to some extent, everyone has a role in tourism and hospitality.
One key concern was the potential skills and labour shortage within the tourism and hospitality sectors. The Tay Cities Deal has a ‘bid’ which relates to inclusive tourism and it is hoped to use this as the catalyst to provide training and employment opportunities for young people and those who may face a range of barriers. This is an area where local social enterprises can certainly play an important role.