"MANAGING AND MARKETING"
Organisers: Tourism and Environment Forum Sponsors: Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and Historic Scotland (HS) Managing and Marketing the Natural and Built Heritage Heritage: A Tour Operator’s Perspective Richard Watt, Rob Roy Tours Ltd 1. Rob Roy Tours Ltd History of the company: - founded 10 years ago to sell walking and cultural tours in Scotland and England to the German speaking market Markets to a mixed clientele, but mainly well-educated, well heeled 35-65 age range Products combine built and natural environments: - core business is small group walking, cultural, historical, wildlife tours providing ‘joined up’ experience of both built and natural environments Clientele’s reasons for coming to Scotland: - ‘romantic’ image of Scotland, history, Edinburgh, landscape and an appetite for learning about other lands and their cultures Combining landscape, culture and history as major attractions, tours include not only hill, cliff and long-distance walks but visits to historical sites, at least one Scottish city, traditional industries and areas rich in landscape and wildlife interest. Support for rural communities - Rob Roy Tours recognises and contributes to the value of tourism to the Scottish countryside by using locally based businesses as providers of accommodation, transport, entertainment, meals and alternatives to walks. 2. Interpretation of the Scottish scene a) The Role of the Tour Guide The tour guide is vitally important as educator, interpreter and mediator as well as friend - the person who can make the Scottish holiday experience enjoyable, exciting and fascinating and also intellectually satisfying b) The Training of Tour Guides Core skills as represented by Blue Badge training strike an excellent balance between knowledge of built and natural environments Expertise and interests of guides are our greatest asset A large majority of Blue Badge guides list interests related to the built rather than to the natural environment Guides need to keep up to date or be kept up to date with a changing market Specialist expertise, even if only in one area, over and above general knowledge, is often the key in bringing to life the interpretation of both built and natural environments. Only connect - a holistic approach to built and natural environments is likely to provide a more satisfying intellectual experience. We are apt to compartmentalise knowledge, but joined-up information is more interesting, satisfying and accessible to the customer. 3. The Scottish Outdoor Access Code Traditionally legislation in this area has been more about restrictions than freedoms The Land Reform Bill and the Access Code promote the responsible exercise of freedom - a refreshing and democratic approach Establishment of partnership between tourism, local authorities and land owners:- providers of activity holidays using other people’s land have a particular responsibility in ensuring a good and fruitful relationship which can be directly or indirectly of mutual benefit A code of conduct for tourism businesses will be a big step in the right direction, but has training and educational implications for businesses and national and local government bodies Guides need to be knowledgeable in the observation of such a code and active in its promotion. The impact of foot and mouth and its impact on tourism in the countryside emphasises the need for responsible behaviour by users as well as owners, to say nothing of joined-up policies by government which recognise that agriculture is not the only activity of the countryside or even necessarily the most important to the rural economy. 4. The Value of a Green Award for Tour Operators The present award is designed for accommodation providers or operators who are heavily office based A tour operators’ award makes sound environmental and business sense – not based only on such things as energy saving and recycling in the office, but based on sensitive and knowledgeable practice in the field, in particular in a commitment to environmental education and conservation as part of the recreational use of the natural and built environments. Many of our overseas tourists are environmentally aware and will prefer to choose the company with sound environmental credentials as verified by a Green Award. 5. Conclusions The tour operator has a duty to respect and protect the environments which provide him and others with a living. This involves: a) having an environmental policy b) educating clients and colleagues about the environment(s) c) observing a code of conduct d) co-operating with other users of the environment e) the adoption of business practices which will be nationally recognised as environmentally sound