The Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) annual conference opened with Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs addressing the 350 delegate. On the day she revealed that the 12.5% cap on business rates would also extend to self-catering, guesthouses, B&B, timeshare units, hostels, camping and caravan sites, subject to confirmation in the forthcoming legislative instrument.
Meanwhile STA Chief Executive, Marc Crothall revealed to delegates that the STA is launching a new research project, with business partners French Duncan, to gain a clear insight into the impact of the rising costs on Scotland’s tourism sector. It will explore business revenue and growth levels, the costs of commission from online booking agencies, labour costs including the effect of the National Living Wage, the costs of pensions and the administration and professional fees associated with labour and pension changes, fixed costs and the costs of licensing, utilities, waste disposal and other industry/sector costs. He suggested that it was going to be a challenge to reach the £5.5bn revenue target set by VisitScotland for 2020.
Steven Boyle, Chief Economist, Royal Bank of Scotland also took the platform his subject: The Future Economic Outlook. He pointed out that inflation was expected to hit 3% by the end of the year but that wages would not have gone up. He also suggested that the hospitality industry make more out of the over 50’s. He told delegates that over the next 10 years there would be 3.5 million more people over 60. For every £1 the rest of the country spends over 60’s spend £1.20!
He was followed by Dr Nicola Millard, Customer Experience Futurologist, at BT. She spoke on The 6’Ds Shaping The Future of Work: and started out by explaining NO1 was Digital. She suggested the sector considered the three ‘u’s’. Useful, Useable and Used when utilising digital means to spread their message.
Other speakers included: Pippa Goodman, Commercial Director; Global Trends & Insight, The Foresight Factory; Chris Yiu, General Manager for Scotland and the North East, Uber; Peter Duncan, Chair, Youth Travel Edinburgh; Natasha Mytton-Mills, Airbnb UK & Ireland and Roger Flynn of loveholidays. In the afternoon VisitScotland Chair Lord Thurso took to the stage.