Place Experience : A Future Tourism Sector Working for the Local Community

The future of tourism was explored in an online Zoom talk presented by Common Weal Youth on Wednesday 5th of August.

The tourism sector globally has been devastated by the limitations on travel and restrictions to movement within and without countries due to Covid19.

Looking forward to a sustainable and successful post Covid Tourism sector was discussed by Dr Ross Tinsley, Programme Leader for Undergraduate Tourism at Edinburgh Napier University and Dr Craig Dalzell of Common Weal.

Ross Tinsley opened the discussion by examining the effects of over tourism and that of under tourism, which we are currently experiencing due to Covid 19 restrictions. He felt that this time was an opportunity to have a more balanced discussion about the sector and a fundamental rethink about its future.

Skara Brae

Skara Brae, 2017, when a cruise ship is in

One of the aspects Ross Tinsley discussed was Place Experience rather than the Visitor/Destination Experience. This is more about the meaning of a place, a deeper experience for the visitor, and with the focus on local benefit.

The Place Experience concept is gaining more supporters in the Tourism sector. It would be about putting communities first, fewer visitor numbers but perhaps a more rewarding stay for the tourist. And for local businesses and economies, more control about what happens where you live and visitors spending locally, supporting smaller enterprises.

June 20th 2 Kirkwall A Summer's Night  Kirkwall Harbour June 20th 2017 (K Armet)

A Summer’s Night Kirkwall Harbour (K Armet)

Dr Craig Dalzell took a broader look at wider issues affecting Tourism and how it can be resilient post Covid and how it responds to the Climate Emergency

Craig Dalzell introduced his topic by stating that the current Tourism policy pursued in Scotland is flawed and that some parts of the sector may never recover. This would also affect the services which have come to rely on visitor numbers such as restaurants.

Profound changes would be needed said Craig Dalzell and the focus would have to go from the idea of growth, growth , growth. The Tourism sector would need to be rebuilt on the Principles of Resilience: economically resilient, socially resilient and environmentally resilient.

The Principles of Resilience have been laid out in the Common Home Plan which gives a phased approach to building a future tourism sector. One, if not the most important part of this would be Land Reform producing a more mixed use  of Scotland’s land. This in turn would lead to a sustainable and diverse tourism sector.

If you want to find out more about the proposals put forward click on this  link: The Common Home Plan

The Common Home Plan is made up of ten sections – buildings, heating, electricity, transport, food, land, resources, trade, learning and ‘us’ (about our lifestyle and culture).

Although Tourism is not listed as the title of a section , all those different parts will affect how the sector operates.

If we are to learn lessons from Covid19 one of the most crucial must be that over reliance on tourism in any community, but especially those which are less populated, is a profound weakness in a local economy.

Sustainable tourism may not bring in the big bucks that mass visitor numbers do but when there is a crisis – like a pandemic, a natural disaster, or conflict then economies that heavily rely on tourism will struggle to recover. The future for the sector can be bright but it cannot be more of the same.

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Reporter: Fiona Grahame


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