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Happy Scotland Loves Local Week! This week marks the very first Scotland Loves Local Week (28th August – 3rd Sept). Organised by Scotland’s Towns Partnership, the organisation behind the national Love Local campaign, the week shines a spotlight on the people and places working hard to make our towns and communities fit for the future. If you are a local business, you can get involved and help shout about the importance of your High Street and neighbourhood businesses by downloading the promotional pack here to support the campaign.
Scotland Loves Local is not only about supporting businesses. It is about communities too. It is the mix of businesses, retailers and services that helps to build and strengthen resilient communities. This was so clearly demonstrated in recent years when we were all dependent on our local shops and services, and people were staying closer to home.
Loving local can also help us tackle the climate challenges we are facing as well – travelling shorter distances, consuming products which have been sourced locally, eating local dishes with less food miles. It is easy for us to all make a difference.
This emphasis on supporting local is a trend that we are seeing in the tourism sector too, with visitors seeking out authentic experiences which locals love too. ‘Living life like a local’ may involve learning about a community’s past, getting involved in a creative activity which is unique to the place or sampling the local delicacies. In fact, our latest Consumer Sentiment research shows that trying local food and drink was among the top five activities for Scotland holidays and short breaks this summer.
Although certain parts of the visitor economy – hotels, restaurants and visitor attractions – may be very visible, the role which tourism can have in supporting local communities can reach deep. The sector can support a whole ecosystem of suppliers and support services across our towns and communities, from florists to decorators, taxi services to accountants. These in turn support jobs and also often sustain services on which communities depend, particularly outside the main summer season. These tourism businesses, and the passionate individuals who run them, are part of the heartbeat of our villages, towns and cities across Scotland – and without them our communities would be less vibrant places.
So, whilst you may not be on holiday, we can all use this week to look at our own towns and communities through our visitors’ eyes. Perhaps go out for dinner, enjoy a drink in the pub or take the family to a local visitor attraction - all will help to support local and independent businesses, and support the local visitor economy too.
We all have a part to play in supporting local tourism whether we are discovering what is on our doorsteps or venturing further afield. The choices we make today can make a huge difference to the Scotland we live in tomorrow. I hope you will join me in supporting local this week and beyond.