Fife Tourism Partnership

Adapting to Change - News from VisitScotland

26 February 2024

In an increasingly digital world, consumer behaviour and the needs of businesses have changed, particularly since the pandemic. 

We must adapt to this new landscape, alongside a challenging economic climate, and ensure we invest in the activities which will generate sustainable growth in the visitor economy. To do this, we’re changing the way we provide advice to businesses, moving to a digital-first approach.

Our Quality Assurance (QA) schemes will come to an end, and we’ll instead focus on delivering a programme of business advice which will inspire quality in the tourism industry.

We remain committed to driving the visitor economy and growing its value to Scotland.

What does that mean for the QA scheme?

We’ll manage a transition period to retire the QA schemes and deliver a free-to-access business advice programme.

Instead of assuring a business at a single point in time, we’ll focus on the delivery of information and insight to help businesses develop the visitor experience and respond to the changing needs of visitors.

The QA Schemes include:

  • Quality Assurance star grading
  • Taste Our Best
  • Welcome Schemes
  • iKnow Partner Programme

Timeline

  • the scheme is now closed to new entrants
  • QA members will retain their current grading until 31 March 2025
  • there will be no fee for the 2024/25 scheme year
  • our schedule of visits for the 2023/24 scheme year will continue to be managed through face-to-face and digital for the next few months
  • the QA schemes will be retired on 31 March 2025

Quality Assurance members do not need to take any action and we have sent an email directly to them. If you would like to talk to the team about your QA membership, please email our customer services team.

Continued advice and support

We believe we have a greater and more impactful role to ensuring you have access to insight and information to help you grow and develop your business.

QA member research (September 2023) showed the VisitScotland support they most valued was:

  • advice on legislation relevant to their business
  • consumer insight and trends
  • sustainability and digital advice

This advice and support will continue to be available. We’ll simply deliver more of the programme through a digital-first approach. This approach will ensure we have maximum reach and can also signpost to the wider support services and products of our national business support partners, with the ability to provide one-to-one support when it’s needed most.

In turn this drives up the quality of the visitor experience because we’ll be able to reach more businesses through a free programme. It also has the potential to contribute significantly to destination development at all levels – local to national.

We’ll continue to play an important role in providing quality advice to businesses, helping to drive up the quality of Scotland’s tourism product and the visitor experience. This is crucial if Scotland is to meet its ambition to be a world leader in 21st century tourism.

A mirror in a bedroom with a vase of flowers in front of it.

Business advice programme

Engaging with stakeholders, including industry and local authorities, will be important as we further develop our business advice programme. This will ensure it meets the needs of businesses and helps the industry to be more sustainable and profitable.

By taking a more holistic view to quality as part of a business advice programme, more businesses will get the advice they need to offer a strong end-to-end customer experience. 

It also means that our quality advice will be free to access which will provide crucial support at a time when the cost of doing business is causing challenges for the industry.

Background information

All responsible organisations must regularly review their priorities and at VisitScotland, we have an excellent track record of evolving the way we work.

Our core functions will not change. These include marketing and information provision, industry and destination development and events.  

We’ll continue to work with, and support, businesses to respond to the immediate needs of industry and the long-term goals of building demand and growing the visitor economy. 

The story of QA

QA has been running since 1985. Since then, it has successfully evolved and adapted to change. From the introduction of “star” gradings (replacing the previous crown scheme) and embedding user generated content to introducing sustainability criteria and adding Taste Our Best into the fold.

Our Schemes have provided visitors with an independent, impartial, and trusted guide to standards in Scotland, delivered by a dedicated team of experts. Our team has been central in driving up investment in the tourism product across Scotland working alongside businesses to help them maintain and improve standards.

Working with the Scottish tourism industry has been essential to its development. As well as working with other countries to help them improve the quality of visitor provision and share best practice.

Consumer behaviour and the needs of businesses have changed significantly during this time, particularly since the pandemic, and in increasing digital world.

It’s important we continue to adapt our approach to quality to reflect this – as we have done for almost 40 years. 

Now is the time for the next chapter in our quality journey.

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