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August 17, 2021

Community led tourism

For many rural communities, tourism is the mainstay of the local economy and while the full force of the pandemic on this sector has yet to be fully established, it’s estimated that 80% of foreign visitor spend and 50% of spending from the home market has been lost. From the estimated £11bn that tourism generates, a small but growing contribution comes from community led tourism initiatives. Social Enterprise Academy is offering fully funded places on their tailored training programme for local tourism leaders.  Meanwhile, Senscot is helping community leaders in Brechin and Girvan to develop their own unique tourist offering.


Community tourism puts local people at the centre of the decision-making process to produce a tourism offering which benefits the whole community, not just a few organisations. It looks to build a strategy which allows small, local organisations and businesses to capture the footfall of visitors who are attracted to larger, popular local assets. 

Encouraging local communities to take ownership of tourism in their area can help preserve historic and cultural heritage, improve management of land and assets for community use, encourage the development of new business opportunities, and improve the quality of services and sustainability of the area; socially, economically and environmentally.  Tourism can be used as a tool for regeneration – connecting local people and local businesses in the development of their area. 

SENScot, working closely with national and local partners, will be providing direct support to the communities of Brechin, in Angus, and Girvan, In South Ayrshire, to develop their tourism offer and put community at the heart of the decision making process.  

2020 has been a catastrophic year for the Scottish tourism industry and, with many businesses struggling, we have seen communities across the country come together to provide support to one another and take a lead in local decision making.   

The Project

This project will support the development of community led tourism action plans in the two towns, keeping community needs at the heart of the project and connecting with local partners from the public, private and public sectors. SENSCot will be working with our delivery partner, Creetown Initiatives, and with local partners to set out a clear vision and objectives, assessing existing community tourism provision, and identifying opportunities for further development.   

Sustainability will be considered throughout the process – we will work with the communities to develop businesses opportunities, create new projects and build on existing activity this will include identifying funding and investment. 

SENScot is delighted to be working with the two communities and to gathering evidence of the effectiveness of giving communities greater control over their tourism offering – we are ambitious for this project and the potential for rolling this out across Scotland.