As I write this, the rain drips down incessantly and peering at the grey sky fails to give me any hope of a ray of sunshine today. Slugs and snails are enjoying tasty feasts in my garden and my attempts at improving my golf are on hold for another few weeks.
But it is not all despair for the Scottish summer – there are lots of positive signs around!
My local hotel owner in discussion on Saturday had many reasons to be cheerful – only 6 vacant bedrooms for the entire month of June with maximum occupancy for the 98 rooms on most nights. My recent weekend away to the little peninsula of Appin, a 20-minute drive from Oban, revealed how integrated local communities have become to support tourists exploring the great outdoors through great walking and cycling paths. And more and more tourism businesses are considering the future promoted by the 5 Big questions online debate.
Like many sectors Interface supports, the tourism sector in Scotland is made up of many small enterprises with limited resources that face common and distinctive challenges. Only a third of new tourism businesses survive over 5 years. But through our brokerage of academic collaborations tourism businesses either individually or via networked clusters are pushing the boundaries to adopt new immersive technologies, consider their approaches to climate change and sustainability and expand to new markets. For example, working with the team at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo has provided Edinburgh Napier University an excellent research opportunity in a real world setting. The interdisciplinary project enabled the University to draw on its wide ranging expertise across the School of Computing to explore the best way to augment the audience experience with a variety of potential emerging technologies. Even more exciting is that following the initial collaboration with the academic team to de-risk an early stage concept, the business is investing their own finances to continue the commercialisation journey.
One thing we can always guarantee is that any business exploring the wealth of expertise in Scottish universities may get new ideas to stretch their thinking and support bottom line growth – many reasons to be cheerful for the Scottish Summer.. Now, where did I leave my brolly?