Vicki Miller, Director of Marketing at VisitScotland, explains why VisitScotland are supporting the Scotland Loves Local campaign, and how shopping locally is part of the experience of rediscovering what we have on our doorsteps.
I love shopping locally. From buying the freshest produce from a green grocer or farmers market, finding the perfect gift at an independent retailer or discovering something for my home I didn’t know I needed in a small boutique, what makes all these businesses special is the people who run them and contribution they make to our communities. The passion they hold for their products, the experience they provide their customers and local area is so strong that supporting them gives me that added satisfaction on top of the quality and unique purchases I’ve just made.
Supporting local businesses is more important than ever right now and a massive positive during these months working from home is I’ve been able to do it more. Without it our local shops may simply cease to exist, removing the history, character and heartbeat of our villages, towns and cities across Scotland – all of which visitors from around the world flock to visit year after year.
Retail tourism is extremely important to the Scottish economy. Of the 15 million overnight trips by domestic and international visitors to Scotland, 44% go shopping as an activity which contributes around £1 billion per annum to the tourism economy – half of that spend coming from UK residents visiting Scotland. For UK consumers, more than half (55%) prefer to buy local brands to help support local and small producers, according to IRI’s latest European Shopper Insights Survey. Other reasons for buying local brands include better quality (46%) and because products taste better (33%).
Creating a local experience, promoting provenance and giving that add personal touch through product ranges are all key for attracting consumers, both international and domestic – all of which local independent high streets have in abundance.
This is why VisitScotland is proud to back the Scotland Loves Local campaign. While our international visitors aren’t able to visit right now we have a unique opportunity to enjoy all that Scotland has to offer, rediscovering what’s on our doorsteps. Sometimes we miss what’s right in front of us and through our own #HameTownTourist campaign, we’ve been asking people to be advocates for their local areas and support businesses and attractions that suffered as a result of the COVID-19 crisis to get back on their feet. Across social media people and organisations have shared their love for hidden gems in their local areas, great days out with family or friends, and recommendations for businesses or attractions they’ve missed while they’re doors had to be shut.
More widely, our ‘Only in Scotland: Scotland Needs You’ marketing campaign, launched to welcome back Scottish tourism on the 15 July, has a clear message that ‘Only in Scotland can travelling so little make such a big difference’. It encourages Scots to travel close to home in a responsible way and appreciate what’s on offer in their own country, featuring locations from across Scotland as well as people across the tourism industry.
It goes without saying, that the Covid19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on all sectors within the Scottish economy – tourism, events, retail and hospitality to name just a few – and the people the work within these have worked so hard to open their doors again within the parameters of the ‘new normal’. Measures have been put in place, in line with Scottish Government guidelines, to ensure both visitors and staff are in a safe environment and to give people confidence while enjoying the experience.
I know Scotland loves local and urge the country to be a part of re-building your local community again by getting businesses that have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis to get back on their feet to help create jobs, growing the economy and driving social change. Together I know we can do it.
Vicki Miller is Director of Marketing at VisitScotland
Image: Vicki Miller (VisitScotland)