SCOTLAND’S national tourism strategy Outlook 2030 was launched at the STA (Scottish Tourism Alliance) signature conference on March 4.

At the heart of the strategy is the idea that Scotland can be the world leaders in 21st century tourism by focusing on delivering responsible tourism for a sustainable future, rather than focusing on delivering tourism in numbers.

Ten weeks into the pandemic and one thing we can be absolutely sure of is that we got that right. There is no doubt that our industry is lurching further into crisis each day.

While the support we’ve had has been welcomed, we know that in the days and weeks ahead, the reality of the picture for our sector will become much clearer for all to see.

Sadly, many businesses will not make it to the reopen date. Without those businesses, Scotland’s tourism product is significantly compromised, the impact on Scotland’s wider economy would devastating and if we have any chance of recovering either, we must align our way of thinking to everything we built into the future tourism strategy.

Change was needed but so too is an understanding of the capability of tourism and the benefits it can deliver.

As we move through the four phases of Scotland’s roadmap to recovery, we must retain a firm grip of reality. We can’t go back to what we were and we must take everyone on this journey with us; the people who live in our tourist destinations, our businesses, our workforce, future generations who will play a key role in the revitalisation and rebuild of our industry and our governments.

We have one chance to get this right. Over the last few weeks, the STA has embarked on a consultation exercise with stakeholders across all sectors within Scotland’s tourism industry to start building a clearer idea of what our future might look like and what we need to get there and has formed a submission to the Independent Advisory Group for Economic Recovery, chaired by Benny Higgins.

This goes far beyond the immediate asks for continued support to keep our industry afloat until a reopening date and through the winter months too.

This is about reimagining a future where Scotland’s facilities are world class; we will need to invest in them, our tourism product and the visitor experience.

We will need all of the country to see themselves as ambassadors for tourism. We will need policymakers to keep in mind that the multiplier effect of each tourist pound is very high.

We need our government to fully commit to and recognise that it is a sector that matters for Scotland and one that can help accelerate the nation’s economic recovery.

We will all have to work even harder to win the hearts and minds of the global traveller and indeed the domestic vacationer. We must think ahead and imagine the trends and expectations of tomorrow's tourist and not to be caught in the headlights of the crisis today.

That is tough for businesses struggling to stay alive which is why we need continued collaboration and support from policy makers working with the industry.

What is also true is that we feel the government now needs to think actively and flexibly about how we can unlock safely, but more purposefully.

It is easier to just stay shut, safer, less risky in the short term for any politician. But not being proactive risks burning businesses, jobs and the economy.

We don’t underestimate the task but would call on them now to challenge their current focus as we move into the most important period in the year for Scotland’s tourism economy and one that will make or break hundreds of tourism businesses across all of our communities.

Marc Crothall is the chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance