Scotland’s staycation spenders and day-trippers are being urged to spend using local gift cards which have the power to inject millions of pounds into the nation’s tourism trade
Visitor industry bosses and attractions are backing a rallying cry for people across the country to use Scotland Loves Local Gift Cards as a way to support businesses in every region of the country.
Scotland Loves Local Gift Cards are local gift cards for each of the country’s 32 local authority areas as part of a project funded by the Scottish Government and delivered by Scotland’s Towns Partnership (STP) working alongside Perth-based fintech Miconex.
Each can only be spent in the regions on which they are branded, with people being urged to embrace them as a new form of local currency, both in their home areas and those they visit.
With the school summer holidays underway, national tourism agency VisitScotland is a strategic partner of Scotland’s Towns Partnership and is backing calls for consumers to use the card and businesses to sign up to accept them.
Rob Dickson, VisitScotland Director of Industry & Destination Development, said: “As the schools break up and many of us prepare to become visitors on our summer holidays, it is really important that we help the industry to recover by supporting local tourism businesses who have been hit hard by Covid-19 over the last two years.
“I would hope the Scotland Loves Local Gift Cards encourage people – both visitors and locals – to get out and about and perhaps spend money in places they haven’t previously visited. Every time they take a trip, a day visit or a meal out and become a tourist in their own region, it helps these vital tourism businesses recover.
“We know the cost of living is having an impact on spending habits and gift cards can help people find something to suit their budget.
“The tourism sector is one of the most important sectors in Scotland and tourism is a positive force – it brings in money, creates jobs and underpins many of the services that we all rely on.”
The number of businesses across the country registered to accept the gift card is steadily rising and has already topped 3500. V&A in Dundee is among the merchants, joining other attractions, accommodation and activity providers in doing so.
Erin Thompson, Retail Manager at V&A Dundee, said: “We strongly believe in supporting local businesses and initiatives close to home here in Dundee. Joining the Scotland Loves Local Dundee Gift Card, which obviously has many shared aims with promoting and supporting local businesses, seemed like the perfect fit for our ethos of forging partnerships and nurturing local design-led talent.
“When you choose local, you’re making a personal investment in your community. It makes such a difference.”
Tourism leaders believe there are so many parts of the country for people to discover – and for those living nearby to rediscover or explore for the first time.
It is hoped that the regional gift cards will provide a means by which locals and visitors can do exactly that.
Accommodation business Marthrown of Mabie, near Dumfries, which boasts camping yurts, a tipi and a Celtic Iron Age roundhouse, is among the businesses accepting the Scotland Loves Local Dumfries and Galloway Gift Card.
Co-owner Mike Hazlehurst said: “The Dumfries and Galloway Gift Card is a brilliant way to attract tourists to visit this part of Scotland. It’s a forgotten piece of coastline and tends to be much quieter. There is so much to do, with some very good visitor attractions like the Galloway National Park, Caerlaverock Castle and Dalscone Farm. The area has beautiful beaches too, and lots of breweries that offer tours.
“Post pandemic, we need to do all that we can to boost tourism. Encouraging people to try your business for the first time is often the hardest part and the gift card can give them that nudge to explore the area and try something new.”
The gift cards can be used to unlock the full visitor experience – from booking somewhere to stay to enjoying great places to eat, drink and visit.
Lynne Ogilvie-Niven, Head of Enterprise at Falkland Estate Trust in Fife, said: “Fife has no shortage of amazing destinations, from the expansive views down to the Forth easily seen from the summit of East Lomond, to its fascinating history and heritage. The gift card is a brilliant way to encourage tourism and help us to really shout about what we have in the region.”
Cards can also be used to enjoy Scotland’s greatest exports – from whisky to Harry Potter.
Elle Tyler, co-owner of tour firm Airts & Pairts, which is part of the Scotland Loves Local Highland Gift Card, explained: “The gift card is like the golden ticket to the Highlands and it supports the whole idea of the circular economy.
“When people spend a Highland Gift Card with us, they can take our Scotland’s Larder foodie tours or a whisky tour exploring the 125-plus distilleries in Speyside and the Highlands. Then there are our Outlander and Harry Potter themed tours, and bespoke tours that are tailor made and offer anything from seafood safaris to island hopping and kilt making.”
Jason Coles is the director/skipper at Wreckspeditions, part of the Scotland Loves Local Argyll and Bute Gift Card.
He said: “The great thing about the card is that it helps us to become more sustainable as a region. We need to get back into the habit of shopping locally and supporting our small businesses, who may not shout as much about themselves as the big chains, but when you look at what’s on offer, you realise that you don’t need to go anywhere else.”
Colin Munro, managing director of Miconex, said: “Over the last eight months, we’ve been working alongside local authorities, business improvement districts and Chambers across Scotland to onboard businesses to the regional Scotland Loves Local Cards. The range of businesses on each card, including accommodation, leisure and attractions, shopping and services, represent an exciting tourism proposition for both inbound and domestic tourists.”
STP chief officer Phil Prentice added: “Tourism attractions and hospitality businesses can be among the biggest winners from the Scotland Loves Local Gift Cards.
“These are a great way of exploring some of the best of what the nation has to offer, potentially injecting millions of pounds into the economy and supporting local businesses as we do. The gift cards are a significant tool in the Scotland Loves Local campaign, encouraging everyone to think local first.”
Click here for more details about the Scotland Loves Local Gift Card.