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SCOTO 2022-23 Year 1 Summary

Highlights from SCOTO's Annual Report & Year 1 Activity Report

July 2022 to June 2023

SCOTO was launched on 23 April 2022, and its inaugural year commenced in July 2022. The first AGM took place on Friday 15 September 2023 and you can find a summary of our annual report below.

SCOTO's activities during its first year in operation have been innovative and immense for such a new and small organisation. The highlights below give insight into the achievements, reach and impact of this growing network.

SCOTO was registered as a Cooperative and Company Limited by Guarantee in March 2022 and began trading in July 2022.

The founding Directors were:

Russell Fraser

Lucy Conway

Joan Lawrie

Catriona Waddington

Emma Guy

Carron Tobin

Rachel Cunningham joined in Autumn 2022.

Both Lucy and Rachel stepped down in May 2023.

Over this period, SCOTO started to transition to a Cooperative and Community Interest Company.

This change better aligns with our aims and makes the organisation eligible for a wider range of funding.
Five new directors were appointed following the Roadshow programme that took place early in 2023. 
The current directors are:

Russell Fraser – Chair

Catriona Waddington - Company Secretary

David McCubben – Finance Director

Carron Tobin – Executive Director

Melanie Allen

Fiona Drane

Emma Guy

Natasha Hutchison

Norma Lyall

Find out more about our board here >

SCOTO Activity 2022/23

A quick view of activity


- engaged with over 1000 people


Held 34 Roadshow events and met 311 participants across Scotland

SCOTO Conference

The first ever SCOTO Conference with nearly 100 attendees.

Learning Exchanges

6 Learning Exchange Visits with 45 participants

Blogs & Photography

Supported 36 communities with professional travel blogs and photography.

Workshops & Events

- held 6 online Gatherings and 5 workshops


- nearly 300 interested members

- nearly 2000 social media followers



6K+ website visits to the SCOTO website and a a new visitor facing website www.belocal.scot and social media campaign


Funded through Scottish Community Alliance's Pockets and Prospects initiative, the Blog grant scheme for SCOTO Members initially ran from Dec 2022 to March 2023 allowing us to appoint Robin McKelvie, Scottish Award-Winning Travel Writer, to work with 24 of SCOTO’s community tourism members to produce visitor-facing blogs. These blog are promoted on social media and published on the new visitor-facing website www.belocal.scot/

Robin Out At Grulin
SCOTO Photography

The Ideas into Action Funding also allowed professional photography to be commissioned with Stephen Sweeney for 12 enterprises which collectively convey the breadth of community tourism activity in Scotland. 

This imagery is primarily used on the belocal website plus social media and for the use of the community tourism organisations.

Scoto Paxtonhouse1
Be Local

SCOTO started with a single web presence – www.scoto.co.uk which provided network and visitor facing content.  The network content was well utilised but the visitor facing was not well used and not readily found.  A decision was taken to source funding for a separate visitor facing presence with its own creative assets.  Funding was sourced from the Inspiring Scotland Ideas into Action fund and www.belocal.scot  was launched in May.

Seaboard Centre Test
SCOTO Roadshow

From a successful pilot community tourism event held in the Easter Ross Peninsula, a Roadshow across Scotland visiting 34 locations was supported by the Ideas into Action fund, administered by Inspiring Scotland. The Roadshow aimed to map community tourism and the current issues organisations were facing, raise awareness of the SCOTO Network and provide a platform for community areas to learn from each other and collaborate in future projects.

IMG 9881
SCOTO, Kingussie 2023 64
SCOTO Gathering 2023
The inaugural SCOTO - Scottish Community Tourism Gathering took place at the beginning of March 2023. The events celebrated SCOTO Network's mission to build skills, connections and confidence in people working in community-led tourism. The event took place over two days.

At the Duke of Gordon Hotel, Kingussie, 85 people attended the first day. The event included presentations and themed discussions around the topic of "Tourism - A dirty word or a force for good for communities".


On day two of the Gathering, a specially designed learning exchange day was developed for community organisations. A total of 6 exchange offers were available, each presented by community organisations within the Badenoch and Strathspey area of the Cairngorms National Park.

With 45 participants, the Scottish Tourism Alliance funded SCOTO to provide community organisations with bursaries for travel and accommodation costs.

Find out more about the event here >

Funding & Resources
SCOTO is a small organisation which aims to be lean and sustainable.

It operates with a freelance coordinator/digital community manager working an average of 21 hours a week and an Exec Director on a small retainer. It also has access to freelance administrative support when needed.

SCOTO has secured various grants, sponsorship and contracts in its first year of operation, plus an interest free loan from Firstport.
The £30k Freeport interest free loan was secured primarily as a safeguard for cashflow. It is a five year loan with staged repayment starting in Nov 2023.

To become less reliant on funding SCOTO is now looking to develop a number of services.

Funding Breakdown
Funding Breakdown

* Cairngorms National Park Funding £3k

* Conference ticket sales £3.8k

* Inspiralba contract £3.5k 
* Shetland islands Council Contract £10k
* SSDA Contract £1.2k
* North Highland Initiative contract  £14k
* Social Enterprise Academy INFT £1.5k

* HIE Proof of Concept Funding £25k
* Inspiring Scotland Ideas into Action £70k
* Scottish Community Alliance
* Pockets and Prospects x 2 £15.5K
* Learning Exchange Bursary £9.36k
* Glasgow Uni grant £2.5k

The Network
Over the last year the demand for SCOTO has been increasing. We’ve recognised that a paid membership structure does not align with our vision and reflect our growing Network.

SCOTO’s initial intent was to have enterprise members but through various dicussions and liaison with potential members and partners it was concluded that the network offered most benefit for individuals with enterprises more interested in pay to play services – eg map entry, eligibility for blogs and mentoring support.  In addition it was recognised that there are various organisation including businesses who were keen to support SCOTO.

The membership model to be rolled out following the AGM has two tiers

  • Full members – individual networkers – no fee
  • Enterprises - £36/annum plus additional pay to play services
  • Supporters - £100/£250 dontation plus pay it forward options to support local activity

This will roll out in 2024.

Scoto Mobile
SCOTO Benefits
SCOTO has grown at a pace that was not expected or anticipated at the outset.

The original concept focused on the 85 alumni from the CLT programme being able to network with regular online gatherings and online resources and case studies to refer to, but SCOTO quickly recognised that others who had not yet undertaken the CLT programme welcomed this new network and were keen to participate. As SCOTO began to gain traction external parties reached out requesting talks and presentations and at the end of the year we had over 300 individuals, enterprises and supporters interested in being part of SCOTO. The benefits of the Network have exceed our expectations in ways we never imagined!

SCOTO Reflections
SCOTO is clearly of its time.

SCOTO’s purpose and activity chimes very well with current policy direction – notably community empowerment and community wealth building, plus the responsible tourism focus of Scotland Outlook 2030.

SCOTO will work hard to ensure that the voices of the Network are heard within the tourism sector.

SCOTO Conclusions
The initial funding provided by HIE for ‘proof of concept’ in Year 1, has quite simply, allowed SCOTO to really get off the ground, and be in a position to apply for and secure other funding and support.

At the end of August 2023, SCOTO is very proud of the achievements to date, the extent of engagement by communities across Scotland and the level of support and sense of partnership that has been forthcoming in Year 1. SCOTO looks forward to Community Tourism across Scotland and the SCOTO Network going from strength to strength.

Copyright Warren Sanders Galloway Cycling