Tourism is blooming good for Scotlands businesses

Tourism is blooming good for Scotlands businesses

We know the visitor economy is a major economic driver for Scotland yet it is often overlooked by those who miss the wider significance and impact. Kenny Kemp reports.

It can be as simple as buying a bunch of flowers to place in a guest room. Every act of commerce has an accumulated impact. And Scotland’s national prosperity depends increasingly on our visitors’ spend. From flower shops to construction companies, the multiplier effect of tourism trickles down into the most unexpected areas of the economy.

“Without tourism, industries like food and drink, retail and construction would be severely impacted and without tourism the spotlight would not be on Scotland after an amazing 2014,” says Malcolm Roughead, the chief executive of VisitScotland.

He is right. But he says we are still struggling to get the business world to take tourism seriously. “This needs to change and it is time that we took tourism from the breakfast table to the global stage,” he says.

For every £50,000 spent in tourism, a new job is created in Scotland. The consultants Deloitte estimated that around 350,000 jobs will be created in tourism in the next ten years – that’s up 20% on current figures. Between 2012 and 2013, Scottish tourism created 29,000 jobs. This is also news worth celebrating.

FlowersAn extra job in tourism economy employment for additional spending of £54,000 and using the Scottish Tourism Alliance 2020 projections for growth from 2013 to 2020, we should expect between 13,000 to 14,500 extra tourism economy jobs by 2020 in Scotland. So the 292,000 tourism economy jobs in 2013, estimated by the Deloitte report, will increasing to around 306,000 by 2020. This is a massive cohort of employment.

Even more interesting, Scotland’s tourism industry is set to grow 54.4% in real terms by 2025 – faster than manufacturing, construction and retail. But Malcolm Roughead’s point is that we don’t always see these jobs. Yet all around there are perfect examples of firms who derive benefit from the visitor economy.

For example, Narcissus Flowers and Plants, set up by founder Sharon Nugent in 1997, in Edinburgh’s Broughton Street is a stone’s throw from the Playhouse Theatre and a host of city centre hotels and restaurants. It is a well-known local florist and a typical Scottish business that gains from tourism.

Emilia Robledo, who is one of shop’s floral designers for wedding and events, says Narcissus does a lot of the flowers and plants for conferences, symposiums, major dinners and film-makers in the city. “We often get asked to make a bouquet for guest staying at hotels. We also do major conferences, such as the TED Global Talks which take place at the EICC. This was a big job for us,” says Emilia, who has worked in Narcissus for three years.

The flower shop handles work for the Sheraton Grand, the Royal College of Physicians, a popular venue for weddings in Queen Street, and restaurants including Gustos, Martin Wishart, David Bann and the Honours.

One of the specialties is the purple thistle which is used to give conference displays a distinctly Scottish look. “There is a general look that people like, which is quite wild and rustic, and unarranged in terms of style. It is a look and a feel that people go for rather than varieties. Certainly, when you think about it we benefit from the visitor economy.”

Spending at the four main conference centres in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen totals £1.1bn every year – the same as eight Edinburgh Festival Fringes, 27 T in the Parks or 14 Commonwealth Games. Even if the flowers are a small percentage of this, then it is good for local Scottish firms.

Then there is the construction and manufacturing industry. A Scottish-based company such as Grant Westfield is in manufacturing and shop-fitting. Managing director Nigel Patch has successfully moved his business into his multiPANEL product range which are used in commercial washrooms, hotels and restaurants, while other products have been used to refurbish hundreds of budget hotel rooms. This Edinburgh firm is undoubtedly a manufacturer – but it is just one of a host of manufacturing businesses benefiting from the tourism boom in low-cost hotel rooms.

Tourism has a significant impact on a number of other industries too including:

  • 47% of ancillary transport, such as taxis, private cabs and car hire. (£700m).
  • 63.6% of recreational services, including swimming pools, hotel spas, museums
  • and galleries.
  • 82% of wines and spirits (£95m).

If it wasn’t for tourism, carpet manufacturers would lose nearly £100,000, accountants would be £9m less well off, car mechanics wouldn’t repair £6m worth of cars, leather makers would lose £350,000, soft drinks industry would lose £14m. In Scotland, tourism really is everyone’s business.

Flowers2According to government statistics, tourism impacts on at least a third of other Scottish businesses – bringing around £2bn extra spend to the Scottish economy beyond its traditional boundaries. A survey by the Meeting Professionals International Foundation, valued business tourism alone – these are people travelling to meetings, networking events, staying over and having supper – at £1.9b annually to Scotland.

And it is spread geographically too, as tourism touches every part of Scotland, from the islands and other rural areas to the Central Belt and urban areas. It is a catalyst for maintaining communities: for example, 15% of the working population in Argyll and Bute are employed in tourism-related industries.

In all, the visitor economy is worth £11bn with potential to grow. Additionally capital investment in 2013 was estimated at £2.1 billion, this is expected to be £4bn in 2025. Anyone who isn’t paying attention to this kind of growth, could be missing out on some great opportunities.

Narcissus also runs a flower school, with its spring workshop starting on 5th March. Emilia Robledo is one of the tutors. or 0131 478 7447.