View of a loch with beach and green fields

Innovation and the ability to adapt will be key for Scotland’s tourism and hospitality industry as it emerges from lockdown, and a new initiative aimed at boosting the sector’s recovery has proved a big success.

Interface has joined forces with VisitScotland and the Scottish Tourism Alliance to connect more than 80 tourism businesses to university academics and students for research and development projects which will help boost their economic recovery.

Following a call to Scotland’s universities, Interface was able to rapidly match the businesses to academic partners from 14 universities. The industry-led challenges are across a wide range of themes including: enhancing visitor experience using data; harnessing augmented and virtual reality; diversifying new products and services; marketing and digital strategies and improving sustainability and green credentials.

The aim of the initiative Adopt a Business, is to help visitor attractions and tourist companies to recover from the impact of lockdown caused by COVID-19 by diversifying their businesses and adapting to the new environment of predominantly UK visitors enjoying “staycations”.

Alongside providing practical knowledge and recommendations that can be rapidly deployed in the tourism businesses, the academic partnerships have provided real-world experience to students and recent graduates. 

Tourism Secretary Fergus Ewing said:

“The Adopt a Business programme of support has demonstrated how Scottish Universities are playing their part in supporting tourism and hospitality businesses through diversification and innovation.  The outcomes from the partnerships facilitated by the team at Interface will greatly help the businesses to implement practical action plans supporting future sustainability and growth.”

Riddell Graham, Director of Industry and Destination Development, VisitScotland, said:

“We are delighted to be working with Interface to connect hard hit tourism businesses with academic expertise to support their recovery. I look forward to seeing the outcome of the huge range of projects that have been developed as we move slowly out of lockdown into a “new normal” for Scotland’s tourism industry.”

Interface’s Mari Findlay, Business Engagement Executive, said:

“We are delighted that we have been able to use our extensive connections into universities and encourage them to work closely with businesses in the tourism and hospitality industry. We initially approached the academics institutions to identify areas of expertise and capacity and have been overwhelmed with the positive response from so many willing to give their time and expertise to support the recovery of the tourism sector.”