The doors of many of our businesses finally opened last week, welcoming back diners, drinkers and those checking in for a much-needed change of scene.

The Scottish weather delivered all we would have expected (cloudy with a chance of torrential rain) which did nothing to dampen the spirits of those who had swapped almost a year of ‘beer from the fridge’ for ‘pint poured by someone else’.

The jobs crisis within our tourism industry has been well documented throughout the pandemic and particularly over the last few weeks; with so much of our industry closed for the best part of a year and many thousands of workers having been furloughed, made redundant or returning to the EU and elsewhere, there’s been a huge recruitment drive across the sector which has resulted in a new wave of young talent choosing to become part of our industry.

Some hotel and restaurant owners have told me that a significant proportion of their furloughed workforce took the decision not to return to their post.

Many of our valued European colleagues returned home at the outset of Covid and due to Brexit, are unlikely to return.

Huge numbers of job vacancies have been posted within the sector in the run up to reopening with many young people having proudly and excitedly applied for and accepted their first jobs within hospitality.

It’s a time of change and there are of course many reasons for that.

After so many months of having only our own four walls and the people within them as our living and working environment, people are understandably keen to be out and about and the demand for hospitality and tourism experiences is strong.

Our young people have been cooped up in their bedrooms for the best part of a year, with only a games console and a set of headphones for company; that’s been the extent of their social lives so it’s no wonder that the young generation are keen to get out into the world again, learn new skills, be around people, have the stimulus of work and something to feel good about.

We must harness this renewed passion for hospitality and tourism and find ways to support and strengthen a steady flow of what will be an important demographic in the reset and rebuilding of Scotland, all of our sectors and our communities.

Our young people will be instrumental in shaping the tourism experiences that we’re so keen to share with the world; their enthusiasm, excitement and renewed interest in a sector which will be the launchpad for so many careers across all sectors within our industry.

The buzz of life, laughter and good times is synonymous with hospitality and tourism, it’s easy to see why after such a prolonged period of life restrictions, our young people want to go where the buzz is; to see faces, hear laughter and chat, deliver smiles and great experiences to people who haven’t been further than the supermarket for four months.

We all must encourage and embrace this opportunity for our younger generations and for the future sustainability of the sector.

This could very well be a renaissance time for Scotland’s tourism industry, recently referenced by the First Minister as one of the country’s crown jewels, with Scotland’s young people being a key part of revival and recovery and in forming the very fabric of our sector as we move further away from these extraordinarily dark days of intense crisis that we will always remember, but rather forget.

Marc Crothall is the chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance