Communities Leading in Tourism

Featuring: Social Enterprise Academy Highlands and Islands Hub Manager, David Bryan. 

Developing community lead tourism

Tourism is changing. Across the world visitors are looking to engage with places in a more meaningful way, getting to know local people and culture, becoming 'temporary locals'. Activity tourism is growing rapidly, experiences not just fleeting visits. Tourists are looking to take time to really understand a place, its culture, local food, folktales, music, how people there make sense of the world. Communities are at the heart of this, designing and realising the sort of tourism they want to happen locally.

Social Enterprise Academy is delighted to be working with Highlands & Islands Enterprise and South of Scotland Economic Partnership in delivering a groundbreaking new programme, Communities: Leading in Tourism, which enables community social enterprise leaders to develop a vision for the future of tourism in their regions and then make it happen.

Speechmarks TealThis is a big challenge”, said David Bryan, SEA’s Highlands & Islands Manager “because people in rural Scotland tend to think about their own village, island, glen or peninsula whereas tourists see a much bigger region, a destination. The challenge is for communities to work collaboratively to develop a shared vision, which both reflects the unique attributes of the region and meets changing global trends in tourism”.

The 12-day programme brings together 15 community leaders from across rural Scotland – Caithness to Dumfries to Lewis. Part of the programme includes bringing the group together in residentials to explore examples of good practice in Skye, Loch Lomond and Stranraer. These are complemented by online learning, including the sharing of global best practice through interactive webinars from locations as diverse as Canada, Zambia, Malaysia and Australia.



Speechmarks TealWe’re working closely with some of our past learners and partners across the world, who are doing ground-breaking work around developing community lead tourism that provides authentic visitor experiences”, said David. “It’s really exciting to be sharing this learning internationally, and the Tourism learners in Scotland have been really fired up by engaging with our international partners.”

Speechmarks TealIf rural Scotland is to compete with changing global trends in tourism, and do this in a way that benefits rather than hinders communities, there’s no doubt that the communities can lead this. We’re piloting this innovative outward-looking approach, which is ground-breaking in terms of what we are challenging local community leaders to do,” said Nicola Ewing of HIE.



Explore our upcoming programmes

Express interest in Communities: Leading in Tourism, starting September 2020


Get in touch

To find out more about how our programmes can benefit you and your organisation, contact:

Rural Phone Number: 01463871219

Urban Phone Number: 0131 243 2670

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