Welcome to SCOTO – your community tourism network in Scotland.
SCOTO emerged from the Highlands and Islands Enterprise funded Communities Leading in Tourism Programme 2019-2022 delivered by the Social Enterprise Academy.

In the beginning

Highlands and Islands Enterprise established Scotland's Communities Leading in Tourism Programme, with the Social Enterprise Academy in 2019, believing in:

Community Wealth Building
Community Wealth Building

Community tourism can support economic and social growth and grow resilient communities that are then equipped to innovate and optimise further opportunities for development and investment

Responsible Tourism
Responsible Tourism

Community tourism underpins the concepts of sustainable and responsible tourism delivering more than economic return with due consideration to the social and environmental as well as economic impacts that tourism brings

Place Making
Place Making

Community tourism is place-orientated and grassroots led and therefore integrates its development with other community priorities

Where we started from

The Communities Leading in Tourism (CLT) Programme brought together groups of tourism providers and community representatives in the Highlands and Islands and the South of Scotland at a crucial time for the sector.

With Scotland aiming to rebuild from the effects of Covid-19, and with demand for staycations increasing, there is now – more than ever – an opportunity and a need to engage and empower local communities, and to ensure that the benefits that flow from tourism are enjoyed more widely.

Over 85 individuals took part in the CLT programme. Three outcomes were evident:

a) Most participants did not have a background in tourism and gained massively from better understanding the sector and how it operates on many levels.

b) Recognition that Community Tourism is a real thing that conscious consumers seek out and is exceptionally well aligned to the national tourism strategy ‘Scotland Outlook 2030’ – yet it is not represented by existing tourism forums or presented to visitors as a distinct experience in its own right.

c) Creating a forum where participants could share new ideas and innovations made a tangible difference back in their respective local community.

The new voice for community tourism

One of CLT's Highland participants Russell Fraser of Loch Ness Hub recognised the value from this new network and came up with the initial idea of continuing it through a new forum and devising a brand to help visitors find community tourism enterprises.

In 2021 CLT course leader Carron Tobin, was successful in securing a £60k grant from the Scottish Government’s Tourism Leadership & Recovery Fund to progress Russell’s idea – and establish SCOTO.

This 6-month grant was specifically targeted at formally establishing SCOTO as a legal entity, developing a digital presence for engagement between members and with visitors, creating the much-needed networking forum for CLT practitioners, establishing a social media presence and devising a brand marque to raise visitor awareness of Community Tourism enterprises across Scotland.

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Getting Involved

Be part of it

We welcome all established or newly set up community enterprises to get in touch and find out more about SCOTO membership, or to simply ask us for info.

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