An action plan to deliver Scotland’s heritage tourism strategy – People Make Heritage: Heritage Tourism 2020 – has been unveiled today, Wednesday 27th April.

The action plan was launched by the Heritage Tourism Group, which is made up of key industry stakeholders and partners, ahead of Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology in 2017. The industry plan clearly sets out the practical steps that could help increase the value of Scotland’s heritage tourism industry by 2020.

Scotland’s heritage tourism sector is currently worth more than £1.34bn to the economy with a potential to grow to over £1.7bn by 2020. With more than eight million annual visits to heritage attractions across the country, marketing heritage and building the visitor experience is critical to support the industry ahead of 2017.

Heritage and Culture is one of the key ‘assets’ identified in Scotland’s national tourism strategy – Tourism Scotland 2020 – which encourages the industry to focus on the markets that offer Scotland’s tourism sector the greatest growth potential. The strategy also encourages collaboration within and across Scotland’s destinations to develop authentic, memorable experiences for visitors.

The three-year action plan has been developed by the Heritage Tourism Group, which is made up of Historic Environment Scotland, National Trust for Scotland, Historic Houses Association, Scottish Ancestral Tourism Group, VisitScotland, Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA).

This working group has long benefited from an ethos of sharing, collaborating and learning with key industry partners, and this new strategic approach by the partners to support one of Scotland’s most important assets is marked by the creation of a new Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) post which will sit within the Scottish Tourism Alliance.

The post has been funded through a partnership with Glasgow Caledonian University and the KTP Associate will co-ordinate the delivery of the action plan through 2017, working closely with heritage partners to coordinate relevant activities.

The action plan highlights key areas of activity, such as market intelligence and research, collaborative digital marketing, itineraries and trails, and increasing participation. The focus will be on building and strengthening the sector through collaboration and leadership within the Heritage Tourism Group as well as identifying opportunities to engage with the wider heritage tourism sector.

By 2017 it is hoped that the project will have demonstrated the benefits of collaboration in raising the profile and economic contribution of heritage tourism to the Scottish economy.

Stephen Duncan, Chair of the Heritage Tourism Group and Director of Commercial and Tourism at Historic Environment Scotland, said: “Scotland’s fascinating historic sites, stunning landscapes and attractions are a truly unique asset and an important element of the country’s wider tourism offering. Providing a real insight into different aspects of Scotland’s past, our rich heritage continues to captivate UK and international visitors alike, welcoming more than eight million visitors a year, demonstrating its value, significance and potential to support and drive economic growth.

“The Heritage Tourism Action Plan marks an exciting milestone for the sector, and I’m extremely pleased to have led partners in the production of this collaborative plan for the industry, for 2017 and beyond. Designed to build upon the great work that is already going on across the industry, it also aims to increase opportunities to work with others in the sector to develop, foster and nurture heritage tourism in Scotland and build the foundations for the years ahead.”

To view the full Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) news release, please visit the STA website.

About Historic Environment Scotland (HES)

  • As of the 1st October 2015, Historic Scotland and RCAHMS came together to form a new lead public body charged with caring for, protecting and promoting the historic environment. The new body Historic Environment Scotland (HES) will lead on delivering Scotland’s first strategy for the historic environment, Our Place in Time.
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Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016

2016 is the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design (IAD). Through a series of exciting events and activity, the year will showcase Scotland's position as an "innovation nation", its outstanding built heritage, and its thriving, internationally acclaimed creative industries sector. This is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland and supported by a variety of partners.

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