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What's next for the Observatory?

How will the Observatory be developed so it can meet more of our stakeholders’ needs?

Creating the Observatory

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 project 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 has now been adopted by VisitScotland and work is being delivered by the Insight Department.  The Observatory website 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.

Developing the website

We have revised the structure of the website to make data easier to find information and to cope with the increased data content planned for the coming year. 

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.  

We are also continuing to build and refine our data pipeline - which gathers and processes the data, ready for analysis and visualisation. 

Responsible tourism data

We are also building the Observatory data resources relating to Responsible Tourism, to support the national strategy, the Destination Net Zero plan 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.

Data challenge projects

We are now embarking on several large scale data projects, aiming to solve some of the key challenges faced with data for tourism in Scotland.  For each of these projects, the process is the same - 

- consultation with stakeholders to better understand their needs

- scoping and planning the project

- investigating solutions

Due to capacity / time constraints within the Insight team and the challenges that these projects present, they will be multi-year projects, but with regular outputs and updates provided here.  These projects are - 

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. 

Forecasting to help planning and decisions - Forward-looking data, such as forecasts, is also a key demand. This project will investigate possible methodologies.

Mapping tourism assets - This project aims to build a clearer picture of tourism assets across the country using data.

Working together

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 if you would like to be involved.