If you’re looking for the perfect present to give a loved one or friend this festive season, why not make it the gift of local?

From shopping at your favourite local stores, to eating out or day trips with the family, there’s so much on our doorsteps across Scotland for us to enjoy. The Scotland Loves Local Gift Card is the new way of allowing us to do exactly that. And what’s great is that the card removes the dilemma of deciding where to get the recipient the gift for – letting them choose where they go, whether they spend it with one local business or share the benefits with many. From £5 to £500, Scotland Loves Local Gift Cards are available to buy and to be spent in regions across the country. They allow people to enjoy the very best of local life while showing the businesses in the community that we are there for them.

SHOPPING

If there’s a positive that’s come from the coronavirus pandemic, it’s been realisation of the great shops we have in our communities. Scotland Loves Local Gift Cards are a great way of spending with them – with a trip to the often unique stores in our communities potentially the start of a great day out locally. A fantastic array of shops – from quirky independents to big-name high street retailers – are joining 30 Choose local: The greatest gift of all this Christmas the growing numbers of retailers joining the gift card programmes in their areas. The fact that you could use your gift card to spend with both, highlights the versatility of how you can use one to show your loyalty to shops of all types - and businesses generally - where you live. Madge McKinnon, of retro clothing shop Circle Vintage in Dumfries, explains: “What’s good about this gift card is that it’s not for an individual shop. That can bring more people into town, and everyone benefits.”

EATING OUT

Scotland’s rich larder of food and drink is something we can all be proud of and enjoy - especially in the nation’s magnificent places to eat. Restaurants, cafes, and bars are among those signed up to the Scotland Loves local Gift Card, including Scotts Troon Yacht Haven in South Ayrshire. Beth Neilson, part of the management team there, says: “We’re known at Scotts for our iconic fish tanks, but it’s looking especially beautiful right now with all of the Christmas decorations making the venue feel warm and cosy.” Scotts Troon is part of Buzzworks and is well-known for its Ayrshire and Edinburgh restaurants. “We joined the South Ayrshire Gift Card because it shows our commitment to our community. The gift card is such a lovely present to give someone, giving them the chance to go out and buy from Scottish shops but also to visit Scottish restaurants and cafés,” adds Beth. “Last year, like most Scottish restaurants, we were closed and people have really missed the chance to get together and celebrate, to enjoy good food and drink and revel in that time together. “I think we all appreciate that so much this year and don’t take it for granted. The South Ayrshire Gift Card is an opportunity for people to experience Scotland again and is so much nicer than giving cash. “Shopping and supporting local has always been important, but never so much as now.”

HeraldScotland:

TREAT YOURSELF

Hairdressers, barbers, and beauty salons across the country are also among those signing up to accept the new local gift cards in their area. What better way to ensure you look your best for a trip out to enjoy the shops and eateries in your community by first using your card to help you look good and feel great? And, if you want to treat someone to a pamper experience this festive season but want to give them the flexibility or where or when to treat themselves, then a gift card may be the perfect solution.

FAMILY FUN

And it’s not only on our high streets where we can show our support for local businesses through the Scotland Loves Local Gift Card. There are great days out experiences that we can enjoy through them too. Historic Environment Scotland - which operates some of the nation’s most iconic visitor attractions, including Edinburgh Castle - is among those accepting the local cards. Gillian Macdonald, the organisation’s head of sales and marketing, said: “We are delighted to be part of the Scotland Loves Local Gift Card initiative. “All the sites we have open across the country accept the card on admissions or retail so giving this card will offer the chance to have a great day out at a local historic attraction or can be used on a day away. “What a great Christmas Gift for someone.”

A BRIGHTER FUTURE

The Scotland Loves Local Gift Card has been launched as another way for people to support local businesses and help them recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. Its rollout is being funded by the Scottish Government as part of the drive for people to choose local, protecting jobs in their community. Delivered by Scotland’s Towns Partnership (STP) - the organisation spearheading the Scotland Loves Local campaign - alongside Perth-based fintech Miconex, the programme is the first scheme of its scale in the country, giving every region the opportunity to launch its own local gift card. STP chief officer Phil Prentice says: “The greatest gift you can give this Christmas is that of local. The Scotland Loves Local Gift Card is the perfect present. “Everyone’s a winner when we all think, choose and spend local. We can enjoy great experiences while protecting jobs and building a better future.”

Cards can only be accepted in businesses which have registered as merchants. As well as the Scotland Loves Local Gift Card, the 17 existing Town & City Gift Card programmes already operated by Miconex in Scotland will remain, with additional promotion for each area.

To buy a Scotland Loves Local Gift Card for your region - or to find out how your business can be part of the scheme - go to www.lovelocal.scot.