‘Rebuilding tourism together’ is the central theme for Scotland’s Tourism Industry Conference

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.”