For the last few weeks, my social media feed has most definitely been in ‘holiday mode’ although sadly my ‘schools, out, pack the car, we’re off the Highlands’ summer break has become a sun-bleached memory.

It is so uplifting and reassuring to see friends, colleagues and the STA (Scottish Tourism Alliance) team and board sharing their incredible experiences of Scotland’s food, drink, culture, heritage and our stunning natural assets from so many different destinations the length and breadth of the country this summer.

It feels like things have finally come back to life in most parts of the country after such a long, grim and frantically worrying time for every single one of us and all of our tourism businesses; it is a joy to see people out enjoying themselves and taking advantage of everything on our doorsteps and beyond.

While the return of our international travel to Scotland remains quite a distance on the horizon, it has never been more important for Scotland’s tourism industry to have the support and stimulus of the domestic market. We have always said that ‘tourism is everyone’s business’ and if we unpick that phrase, it really does have impactful meaning.

Whether you go for a day trip or a week-long holiday, think about the number of touchpoints that your individual tourism experience has with businesses and suppliers not just within our tourism industry but across all sectors. These are businesses which not only depend on our trade, a whole raft of suppliers to their businesses are dependent on that business being buoyant.

With margaritas on the beach still on hold for most of us and what has been a Mediterranean temperature of late, now is the time to take inspiration from the Twitterati and ‘The Gram’ and really delve into these hometown tourist experiences to not only support our local and destination economies but to enjoy what are quality, authentic experiences right under our noses and make some summer memories to treasure forever.

The Scotland Loves Local campaign is an exciting initiative to encourage all of us to think and support local first and help businesses which have lost vital trade throughout the course of the pandemic to get back on their feet.

It is those businesses that give our villages, towns and cities their unique character, personality and vibe and without them, a huge element of our attractiveness on all levels will disappear forever. They are core to our tourism offering and when our international visitors return, it’s a key part of the experience of Scotland that they’ll be looking for.

Scotland’s Towns Partnership is spearheading a national initiative, Scotland Loves Local, which has launched a new gift card scheme, backed by the Scottish Government which will see the creation of 32 gift cards for each of Scotland’s 32 local authority areas.

Business and local authorities across Scotland have already started signing up to be part of the gift card scheme; every community could soon have its own local gift card which will encourage people to spend locally first and subsequently drive growth in our local economies.

It is up to every one of us to help Scotland recover from the pandemic and build a strong, sustainable future for all our sectors and our future generations and I very much believe this starts right on our doorstep. I would urge all local authorities and businesses of all types to get involved in the Scotland Loves Local Gift Card Scheme, remembering of course that all important mantra - ‘tourism is everyone’s business’.

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Marc Crothall is the chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance