As part of the national Scotland Loves Local campaign, town centre and tourism leaders have issued a rallying call for Scots to remember local businesses in their festive shopping lists


Town centre and tourism leaders have united in a powerful plea for shoppers to think local first this Christmas.

Scotland’s Towns Partnership (STP) and VisitScotland say the need for locals to show their support for the businesses in their community has never been greater than this festive season.

And, whether it be vouchers for a local shop, meal out or a getaway at a hotel or attraction close to home, they believe the gift choices on offer have also never been stronger as people appreciate more of what’s on their doorstep.

Both organisations are championing the Scotland Love Local campaign message for people to prioritise supporting businesses around them - whether in person or online - to fuel the nation’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This is something we can all do in order to help protect jobs and ensure these businesses continue to be there for us as part of building a stronger, more sustainable future for our communities,” said Phil Prentice, STP’s chief officer.

The Herald:

“It is undoubtedly going to be a challenging winter for many businesses, but by pledging to shop local and less global this Christmas, we can help them through that. Whether in retail or hospitality, I doubt there has ever been a festive season where these businesses have needed our support more.”

VisitScotland is using its popular website and social channels to showcase the vast range of gifts, products and experiences that people can enjoy on their doorsteps.
With the tourism worth more than £11.5bn to the Scottish economy, they are urging people to be there for the businesses who have been there for them, with many in the leisure and hospitality trade having gone to great lengths to support communities through the pandemic - from offering free stays to key workers to making hand sanitiser.

Vicki Miller, director of marketing and digital at VisitScotland, said: “Tourism is a force for good, playing a part not just in providing jobs and economic benefits to every corner of Scotland, but also bringing benefits to wellbeing and society. 

“Without accommodation providers, attractions, events, restaurants, bars or shops, many communities would cease to exist. They are the heartbeat of our villages, towns and cities and the reason visitors from around the world visit Scotland year after year.

“Buying gift vouchers, shopping online or on our high streets, dining out or booking a break on your doorstep; by loving local you are supporting communities during tough times and helping protect the places and businesses you, and many others, love to visit.”
Much of the kindness and innovation witnessed in all areas of local life were recognised in the Scotland Loves Local High Street Heroes Awards.

Among those recognised from the hospitality sector were Tim O’Sullivan, landlord of the Craigdarroch Hotel in Monaive, Dumfriesshire, who received a highly commended award.
He has been involved in a range of initiatives to support businesses and the wider community through the pandemic, as well as operating a food delivery service where, if people could not afford to pay, they simply “binned the bill”. Some costs were covered by other people who paid a little extra for theirs.

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Mr O’Sullivan, who has run the hotel - a vital part of the village’s series of arts and music festivals outwith Covid-19 restrictions - for 10 years also delivered hundreds of meals to those who were self isolating or unable to get out.

Award judges were told: “This community would not have survived the lockdown without his innovative ideas and kindness. We really would not have got through this without his help.”

In Moray, meanwhile, another hotel - Cullen Bay - was named regional champion after owners Ian and Rena Watson showed “dedication and commitment” to their communities by serving free meals to people from Cullen, Portknockie and Findochty during lockdown. 

Other examples of innovation include:

  • Mackintosh at The Willow which has launched an online shop, allowing people to support the Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed Glasgow institution, which first opened in 1903 and is of huge importance to Glasgow’s architectural and cultural heritage. Their festive afternoon tea, which includes savoury bites such as turkey bonbons and mini steak pies, to Christmas flavoured scones is one of their new home delivery items.
  • The Glasgow Cocktail Collection (GCC), which was created during lockdown to keep the city’s cocktail culture alive, delivering delicious drinks created by a number of brilliant bars such as Vodka Wodka in the west end, Blue Dog in the city centre, speakeasy Kelvingrove Café in Finnieston, and Phillies of Shawlands to thirsty punters. GCC has also raised £1,500 for Scotland’s hospitality charity - The Drinks Trust - by donating sales of their drinks to help bartenders who have found themselves out of work.

Research by the Scotland Loves Local campaign has found that two-thirds of local businesses now have the ability to take online orders, with a quarter of those having only created that since the start of lockdown in the spring.

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Phil Prentice added: “Whether we do it in person or online, money that’s spent locally stays local for longer, meaning that supporting businesses close to you is the gift that keeps on giving.

“We should be inspired by our High Street Heroes and others to act safely and think local first. It’s in all of our interests.”

Find out more at, or by following #ScotlandLovesLocal on social media.


Shop local with Scottish gift card programmes

SHOPPERS are being encouraged to shop local with gift card programmes across Scotland. 

Perth-based fintech Miconex has launched new Town and City Gift Cards in Aberdeen, the Falkirk district, Kirkcaldy and rural Scotland, taking its total number of local gift card programmes across Scotland to 17, and over 50 across the UK and Ireland. 
Town and City Gift Card programmes work to lock in spend locally and drive local economic recovery.

The Herald:

Adam Flint of Progression Bikes in Perth, with the recently launched rural Scotland gift card

Over £2 million has been spent through the schemes since the launch of the first programme, the Perth Gift Card, in 2015.  

The benefits of the scheme – giving people the chance to invest with local businesses by buying a local gift card to be spent across retail, hospitality, leisure and services – has been highlighted by the Scotland Loves Local campaign as it encourages people to show support for their towns and high streets in every way possible to help the nation’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Miconex managing director Colin Munro said: “When you buy local, you can double the amount of money in your local economy. The popularity of multi-venue gift cards like Town and City Gift Cards is rising and represented 37.7% of all gift cards purchased in October. 

“More than ever this year, people realise the importance of shopping local and because our local gift cards can be spent with a huge variety of businesses in a particular place or city, they offer a secure way to give the gift of choice whilst supporting your town or city.”

Town and City Gift Card programmes are also active in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth, Crieff, Arran, Elgin, Shawlands, Milngavie, East Ayrshire, East Lothian, Kirkwall, St. Andrews and Glasgow’s West End.