Launch of new Scottish Community Tourism (SCOTO) national body aiming to support community backed ventures and help Covid bounceback hailed by Ross-shire groups

Ross-Shire Journal – Hector MacKenzie 

A new national tourism body is urging visitors to support community owned tourism enterprises across Scotland and deliver a boost for local jobs and services as the sector rebuilds after Covid-19.

Scottish Community Tourism (SCOTO) is a new network of around 100 community owned tourism organisations and enterprises, with key figures from the community tourism sector in the Highlands among those driving the project.

SCOTO’s aim is to promote and represent the growing number of community run tourism ventures across Scotland.

It wants tourists to make a conscious choice to seek out accommodation, activities, and food and drink services offered by businesses that are owned and managed by local community bodies, where every pound spent is reinvested in local priorities, from the environment to jobs for young people, housing to wellbeing services.

The new body formally launches today (Monday) with a series of promotional activities planned by members throughout the week.

A new interactive website has been designed to showcase Scotland’s wide range of independent, community owned cafes, community pubs, distilleries, accommodation providers, shops, cultural centres, outdoor attractions, festivals and other service providers including toilets and ATMs.

Members will be offered a free listing on the website and venues joining the network will receive SCOTO place-markers to identify them as community owned enterprises.

Highland members include Wester Ross UNESCO Biosphere in Kyle of Lochalsh, Discover Thurso, Dornoch Area Community Interest Company, Seaboard Centre in Easter Ross, Badenoch The Storylands and Loch Ness Hub, a visitor and information centre (VIC) in Drumnadrochit.