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Time to build a better future for tourism

Time to build a better future for tourism

UN Sustainable Development Goals

Open letter to my tourism partners, visitors and guests

Today I received an e-mail from an agency trying to negotiate terms for 2021. I was flabbergasted and would like to share my answer with you. Isn’t it time to build a better future? … Please read the end of this post for the response from the agency.

Dear Colleague,

Thanks for your e-mail and efforts in recovering business.

You are very good in responding to customer/client needs, but what about the Scottish Tourism Industry in general? What about the hand that feeds you and all of us? What about our vision for the future? scotland-outlook-2030

Isn’t this the time to turn Scotland into a quality destination and develop balanced, sustainable tourism rather than returning to the recent destructive over-tourism? What about the UN sustainable development goals we all should be aiming for? 

In this year when UNWTO is focusing on ‘Tourism and Jobs: A better Future for All’ – isn’t it high time to provide adequate pay for all of us working in tourism?

You speak of client and end-consumer needs. Are you confusing visitors’ needs with economic targets of tour operators and agencies. I read about vying for business, market share, value for money rather than quality, benefits for the communities we visit, the protection of the cultural and natural heritage we enjoy on our travels … .

Do visitors really just want a cheap holiday? Is this all they want? Is this the only criteria they use when choosing their holiday? If so, I don’t think I can meet their needs.

Perhaps I was lucky that more and more of my visitors over the last couple of years came to Scotland for memorable, authentic experiences and brought a sense of responsible travel and desire to protect the beautiful landscapes we visited.

You talk about intelligence and trends. Aren’t we moving away from a visitor demographic to a visitor psychographic – people want to travel with like-minded people, those who share the same values. If the main motivation is a cheap holiday then I’m not the right tourist guide for your business.

Nobody has money to burn, but don’t we expect to pay for goods, services and quality?

Forgive me for this long e-mail. As you can read, I’m passionate about my job and passionate about Scotland. I want this wonderful country to be there for generations of tourist guides to share, visitors to enjoy and agencies to ‘sell’.

Please please consider my points and let’s build a better future for the tourism industry and all of us.

In short, I will continue to gradually increase my guiding fees, which are very reasonable. I didn’t become a tourist guide to get rich, but I have to sustain myself and my business. I currently have no income and I’m living from my savings. Even as a business case, it doesn’t make sense to ‘freeze’ my fees, my costs are continuing to run throughout this year, when I might have near to no income. It also wouldn’t be fair to my fellow professional colleagues.

As for flexibility in cancellation fees, as you might know, I value being kept informed about the status of bookings and was always open and flexible to special circumstances.

As you say, partnership working is paramount. Let’s work on this together.
Thanks for reading my e-mail.

With my best wishes to you and your colleagues, stay safe and healthy

I received a response:

Dear Viola
I hope that this email finds you well. I appreciate your feedback. We are reaching out to our guides and wish to retain rates for 2021 which enables us to offer an affordable and attractive UK product for 2021.
We are only going to book with guides that can hold the rates for 2001. If you position on the rates changes please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.


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