Couples across Scotland are being urged to love local and boost their area’s economy as they spend Valentine’s Day together.
The team behind the Scotland Loves Local campaign believe Valentine’s Day celebrations will hand a critical injection to local businesses as they battle back from disruption caused by coronavirus.
And hopes are particularly high that Cupid could fire a much-needed arrow towards firing up the leisure and hospitality sectors, with couples encouraged to enjoy each other’s company at restaurants and attractions close to home.
Those with Scotland Loves Local Gift Cards are also being urged to use them at venues which have signed up as merchants – whether they’re looking for cards, gifts or a trip out with their partner.
Kimberley Guthrie, who is leading the rollout of the Scotland Loves Local Gift Card programme for Scotland’s Towns Partnership (STP), said: “We know that businesses of all kinds have had it tougher again because of the impact of the omicron variant of coronavirus on everyone’s lives.
“But with restrictions now relaxed, Valentine’s Day is the perfect chance for couples to spend some time together, while also showing some love for businesses in their community.
“This really is an occasion which could provide a much-needed boost to local businesses. What better than supporting a local shop, taking a walk out to a meal at a local restaurant or enjoying a night away somewhere on your doorstep that you’ve never thought to visit before?
“And, if you’re struggling to find the perfect present, perhaps a Scotland Loves Local Gift Card could be an ideal way of letting your partner choose something that they would really love.”
La Tortilla restaurant in Inverness is one of the businesses accepting the gift card and is backing the rallying cry for people to think, choose and spend local as part of the Scotland Loves Local campaign.
Director Duncan Chisholm said: “The local support we had during the lockdowns kept us going as a business with our regulars ordering takeaways. More recently in December, with guidance to limit socialising, we had group cancellations for dine in but instead, many chose to have a takeaway or a smaller sized table instead and that is truly appreciated.”
Scotts at Troon Yacht Haven, in South Ayrshire, is another of the restaurants accepting the card.
Beth Neilson, who’s part of the management team there, said: “Shopping and supporting local has always been important, but never so much as now. Everyone wants to see the area where they live do well, and we can make that happen by supporting the gift card, giving back to the community.”
Local authorities across the country are spearheading the rollout of the gift cards for their areas, with launch costs being met by the Scottish Government. The programme is being led nationally by STP, the organisation behind the wider Scotland Loves Local campaign.
Each card can only be spent in the region for which it is branded, meaning it is effectively a new form of local currency.
The only requirement for businesses signing up is that they must have a physical presence in the region in which they are registering. Cards will become available to customers following a series of local launches expected to take place in the coming months.
Registering to accept the Scotland Loves Local Gift Card is free, with payments processed through the Mastercard network. STP is working with Perth-based fintech Miconex, which already operates gift card programmes in the UK, Ireland and North America, to deliver the scheme.
The 17 existing Town & City Gift Card programmes which existed in Scotland before the Scotland Loves Local rollout remain in place, with additional promotion for each area.
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