Paul McCafferty, Tourism Sector Team Leader at Scottish Enterprise and a member of the Scottish Tourism Alliance Strategy Group, talks to Glasgow Welcomes about how businesses in the city should strive for world class service to help deliver Scotland’s tourism ambitions and boost Scottish economy.
“One of the main attractions for tourists to Scotland is our dramatic landscape – the hills, mountains, lochs and glens. But our major cities also have a crucial role to play in supporting Scotland’s national tourism strategy, Tourism Scotland 2020.
All of our cities and urban destinations contribute a great deal to Scotland’s tourism offer, with Glasgow forming one of the jewels in Scotland’s crown. The city is one of the country’s strongest tourism assets.
“It has a strategically important tourism infrastructure, including the SSE Hydro, which boosted the city’s ability to attract major events and was named the world’s second busiest live entertainment venue. Glasgow also offers a rich visitor experience with historical architecture, a bustling nightlife, museums and art galleries, one of the best shopping destinations outside London and a gateway to fantastic rural locations, such as Loch Lomond. All of this combines to place Glasgow on the map as an internationally recognised visitor destination.
“The international angle is fundamentally important to Scotland’s economic future. International tourism is growing. We need to attract more visitors from outside Scotland and we need them to spend more money, creating more jobs and more successful businesses. Growth in our international markets presents huge opportunities for indigenous businesses, as well as for inward investment.
“Destinations such as Glasgow have helped to put Scotland on an international stage and being recognised internationally is how we will grow our overall tourism economy. But we’ll only achieve that, and local businesses will only benefit, if they actively get involved and make their contribution to delivering Scotland’s national tourism strategy and its ambitions.
“Quality, skills and leadership are key priorities within the tourism strategy. In order to develop quality tourism experiences that meet visitors’ needs, we must build the capability of our tourism businesses. We need businesses to work together and deliver a consistent, customer-focused and quality service. Scotland is playing on an international stage and as such we are competing with hundreds of country and city destinations that all offer attractive visitor experiences.
“Along with a number of other partners, Scottish Enterprise invests in Glasgow’s tourism service initiative, Glasgow Welcomes, because it strives to meet the quality, skills and leadership aims of the national tourism strategy through training for the city’s tourism workforce. It is a fabulous example of how skills development has been recognised locally as hugely important to Scotland’s overall tourism offer. There’s no shortage of supply in terms of customer service training programmes and courses. However, where Glasgow Welcomes has made a unique difference is in bringing together a range of industry partners to create a dynamic product that specifically meets the needs of the local business community and that ensures staff have the skills to deliver a high quality visitor experience.
“By proactively striving to improve the visitor experience in this way, the destination becomes more attractive for both leisure and business visitors, who may consider repeat visits and potential future investment. The nature of tourism means it cuts across many activities and business areas, and there are wider opportunities that can be unlocked as a result of a positive visitor experience.
“For individual businesses, investing in skills to enhance their levels of customer service helps them to deliver a better product, strengthens future business performance and supports a reduction in staff turnover, all of which will help the bottom line.
“Scotland is a small country and we need a high quality visitor experience to keep us on the map. There are a number of destinations, such as Glasgow, that are performing well and the partnership approach the city has adopted is a best practice example that other cities can learn from. But we have to keep pursuing further improvements because tourism is a hugely important sector for Scotland. We need to encourage ongoing commitment and buy in from the industry because the more local businesses that we can engage in activity to deliver Glasgow and Scotland’s tourism ambitions, the better the sector will perform, which will in turn fuel the wider Scottish economy.”
Paul McCafferty, Tourism Sector Team Leader at Scottish Enterprise