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Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) plays its part as rural communities offered tourism expertise to support local recovery


By Alan Hendry

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Communities Leading in Tourism will start in late September.
Communities Leading in Tourism will start in late September.

A new programme has been launched with the aim of helping community development organisations and social enterprises support the recovery of rural Scotland’s tourism sector.

People working in community development with an interest in tourism can apply for one of 15 places in the Communities Leading in Tourism initiative starting in late September and running until December.

The 12-day programme will give participants an understanding of the complexities of the tourism sector, including exploring the challenges and opportunities faced following the Covid-19 pandemic. It is designed to develop the leadership skills needed to influence, plan and support sustainable tourism recovery.

This is the second of three intakes of candidates for the pilot programme which has been developed by social and economic development agencies Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE).

Douglas Cowan, director of communities and place at HIE, said: “When we developed this programme, we wanted to build a Scotland-wide network of community leaders connecting local development and tourism. As we tackle the impact of Covid-19 in rural Scotland, community leadership is more important than ever. Engaging communities is an essential part of developing sustainable tourism.”

The Social Enterprise Academy (SEA), which has supported more than 14,000 social economy learners, is delivering the blended learning programme of six live online learning sessions, six days of online learning and three planned two-day residential tourism visits in Skye, the Trossachs and Stranraer. The residential part of the programme will be subject to government conditions on Covid-19.

SEA's David Bryan said: “This programme is about communities taking control of the future of tourism in their areas. We will look at some great examples of communities deciding what sort of tourism they want, and then making it happen. The programme ends with everyone having developed their own action plan and gained the skills to implement it.”

More information is available at www.hie.co.uk/communitiesleadingintourism

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