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Scottish Tourism Index

53 Degree Insight have published their March survey findings confirming much of what we had understood to the current outlook for our tourism industry; not the mad rush to book or the huge pent up demand that we’ve seen reported by some media.

Whilst there is room for some optimism, the latest Scottish Tourism Index demonstrates that there are a number of challenges ahead to ensure home-base holidays (staycations) can provide the tourism industry with the much needed boost it needs in 2021

Some highlights from the research here:

  • Over a fifth of Scots are simply not thinking about holidays yet (22%) and 27% feel that holidays are something they won’t be planning for some time. These groups remained concerned about risks of transmission and would like to wait until the vaccine rollout and declining cases reach a level where they feel completely safe.
  • However, the remaining half of the population are more positive about taking a holiday this year – indeed 1 in 8 (12%) are desperate for a holiday and will take one as soon as they can. Members of this group feel they need to travel, to escape from the difficulties of the last 12 months.
  • Almost half (46%) of Scots are very likely or definite about taking a home holiday this year – and a further 24% are fairly likely – 7 in 10 Scots overall. This compares with around two in five likely to go elsewhere in the UK (42%), three in ten into Europe (29%) and 11% further afield
  • However the uncertainty of what will be possible this year means that only a small proportion of Scots have already booked a 2021 staycation (5%) while a larger percentage (32%) are just at the planning or consideration stages.
  • When asked to rate the importance of a different factors if they were to take a Scottish staycation high standards of hygiene and cleanliness were rated most highly. Mitigations to aid social distancing remain important but notably less so than in the summer of 2020. More important in 2021 were reassurances that there would be a range of places open to visit and where it would be possible to eat and drink.
  • While 17% of Scottish staycations are expected to be taken before the end of June, a larger percentage (51%) are expected to take place between July and the end of September, and 14% in the last quarter. Reflecting the uncertainty amongst consumers, 18% of those planning a trip are unsure of when.
  • As in 2020, rural locations continue to hold greatest appeal with the Highlands leading the way, followed by Argyll, Edinburgh & Lothians, Aberdeenshire, Ayrshire & Arran and Perthshire.
  • Also reflecting demand in 2020, self-catering accommodation continues to be the most popular for holidays planned for 2021 with 47% intending to stay in this type of accommodation. Small hotels are likely to be used by 44%, guesthouses/B&Bs by 33% and large hotels by 30% – and all other types of accommodation by less than 15% in each case.
  • Underlying these percentages there are shifts in accommodation preferences compared with pre-COVID. Self-catering in particular now has much greater appeal (+25% swing) as do campervans (+11%).
  • In terms of activities undertaken on holidays, 33% of Scots are more likely to consider visiting the natural outdoors on a Scottish holiday post-COVID-19, and a similar percentage are more likely to seek rest and relaxation. More active pursuits such as walking and cycling are also more popular with +26% appeal. In contrast indoor activities such as visits to arts and cultural venues and shopping for gifts and souvenirs will still have reduced appeal.
  • Considering Scottish community attitudes to the re-opening of tourism, although a degree of reticence remains (23% would at most only want small numbers of visitors), compared to 2020 there is a more relaxed attitude towards visitors generally with almost half (48%) pf the population feeling comfortable and ready to welcome visitors.

You can read in full here.

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