Progress so far
The Scottish Tourism Observatory project was formally set up in mid-2021, with initial funding provided by the Scottish Government up to March 2022. The team had several target outputs which were successfully delivered in this initial phase of the project. These included:
- Research, consultation and engagement with stakeholders to understand data needs
- Data discovery: identifying relevant data that is available and confirming critical gaps where that doesn’t meet data needs
- Creation of the Scottish Tourism Observatory: including the design and build of the website and the supporting data pipelines and processes which enable the creation of the analyses and visualisations
The Observatory is currently in its Beta phase – in other words, an early stage of development which will continue to be improved and built upon.
Next steps and updates we plan for the Observatory
The future plans for the Observatory are guided by our stakeholder research and continuing engagement to help us understand data needs.
Additional data sources
The website currently uses existing data which has been analysed and made available in various ways. This "open data" is able to be used and shared as necessary.
We will continue to look for existing data sources to help meet data needs and reach out to other organisations which have data, so we can combine resources to build a rich picture of tourism in Scotland. This will include data for sectors including events and festivals, transport, activities, attractions and food and drink.
Possibilities to include data from commercial sources will also be investigated.
Responsible tourism data
We will also start to build the Observatory data resources relating to Responsible Tourism, to support the national strategy, Destination Net Zero and other activities. This will also follow the framework of the UNWTO International Network of Sustainable Tourism Observatories, of which we aim to become a member.
More regional data
We know robust data at a regional level is a crucial requirement for many, but one not fully being met by available sources. A project will be set up to examine possible solutions to improve regional data.
Forecasting to help planning and decisions
Forward-looking data, such as forecasts, is also a key demand. Again a project will be set up to investigate data and methodologies to enable this.
Mapping tourism assets
Another objective is to build a clearer picture of tourism assets across the country using data. A pilot project is underway which will provide learnings on which to base further activity.
Improving data quality
We will also develop an action plan for improving data quality overall, guided by the work of colleagues in the Scottish Government who are already active in this area.
To achieve these further ambitions, we need to secure ongoing funding to cover the costs of developing the website, creating data analyses and visualisations, and any paid-for data. Work is on-going to secure funding, and in the meantime, the VisitScotland Insight team will maintain the site.
In all of the plans to develop the Observatory, we hope to work collaboratively with stakeholders across the industry and around the country. This could involve providing data and analyses for the website, sharing experiences of using data in the Community section or collaborating on the priority projects.
Please email the team at STO@visitscotland.com if you would like to be involved.