By Stuart McMillan MSP, Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group for Recreational Boating and Marine Tourism
The world has changed. The Giant Strides strategy was launched a matter of days before the full impact of the global pandemic on Scotland and the UK began to fully unfold.
Since then our society and our sector have been through enormous challenge, and sadly those challenges persist and will likely characterise the coming months and even years.
Huge efforts have been made at every level of our society to address the initial impact of the pandemic and then to begin the process of identifying how to recover. Not all those actions have been successful, and for some, the recovery will mean starting again.
The Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group (STERG) have been at the forefront of developing these sector-wide plans and the Scottish Tourism Recovery Task Force (STRT) have provided recommendations to the Scottish and UK Governments to support this process.
The same report makes a series of recommendations for industry and wider stakeholders. Nearly all of these involve working in partnership.
Giant Strides has already placed partnership at the heart of the delivery model. In the process of developing partnership plan, it has been appropriate and necessary to reflect on the radical changes we’ve all had to endure.
Not everything has changed. Indeed, the global megatrends that the strategy highlights remain the same. There is even some benefit that can be found as digital skills have rapidly improved and many organisations have embraced digitisation and made huge progress. The most notable change is the loss of the international market and the rapid growth in the domestic market; and whilst this has undoubtedly been very damaging to some businesses, the growth in the domestic market and the demand for “safe” experiences will likely be of benefit to Marine Tourism.
These reflections have concluded not only that Giant Strides is still relevant, but that the Partnership approach to delivery is ideally suited to the challenges that lay ahead and responds directly to the recommendations from the Scottish Tourism Recovery Task Force.
The Partnership Plan aims to Unlock Collective impact by inspiring and aligning organisations, business and clubs who want to see a thriving marine tourism sector.
By doing so our whole sector will benefit. We will be more agile and capitalise on opportunities more quickly and we will have greater influence and attract more investment and support. This, in turn, will grow the whole market, support our communities, and enhance our environment.
The Cross-Party Group will help this process and will convene support from further afield. What you need to do is join the team and become a partner in the Marine Tourism strategy.