A group of high school pupils got a taste of working for the national tourism organisation by stepping into the shoes of Quality and Tourism Advisors for the day.
The four pupils from Lornshill Academy in Alloa, Clackmannanshire, visited Highland Safaris in Perthshire to gain first-hand experience at the Scottish tourism industry’s frontline.
The visitor attraction, near Aberfeldy, has already been given a five-star rating by VisitScotland’s quality experts and managed to pass the tough standards of teenage judges Eryn Marshall, Lucy Hensmen, Imogen McLeod and Damien McAleese (all aged 13) during the visit.
They went for an exciting forest safari in a six-wheel drive off-road vehicle to learn all about the Perthshire wilderness before sampling the scrumptious food on offer at the Highland Safaris café and topped their visit off at the Red Deer Centre where they were the ones doing the feeding.
The S2 students chatted with Highland Safaris directors Julie and Donald Riddell and were given QTA forms to fill out with comments and give overall ratings out of five for customer experience, food and drink, cleanliness and core experience.
The promising pupils became honourary Quality and Tourism Advisors for the day following a Hospitality and Tourism Takeover day at Forth Valley College held earlier this year, organised by education charity Springboard.
Lornshill Academy was selected to receive a visit from VisitScotland regional director Neil Christison after showing great enthusiasm for a career in the industry with a group of young people from the school then winning the chance to review a Scottish tourist attraction of their choice.
VisitScotland’s QTAs play a pivotal role in the tourism industry. They generally carry out their assessments incognito, like a mystery shopper, but give instant feedback and advice at the end of their visit. They boast extensive knowledge and experience that they share with businesses to help progress Scotland’s tourism offering, as well as suggesting useful contacts within VisitScotland and any other relevant sources of help and advice.
Neil Christison said: ‘It is wonderful to see young people with a passion for tourism, if we want to continue keeping Scotland at the top of everyone’s now list we need to attract staff with the skills and desire to ensure visitors leave with lasting memories of their time here.
‘Scotland is famous for many things; our stunning scenery, rich history, diverse culture and, of course, our warm welcome. These youngsters acting as Quality & Tourism Advisors for the day got to see how the tourism industry is driving our country’s world-class reputation, and what better place to do this than at the fantastic five-star Highland Safaris.
‘Throughout Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018 we have been celebrating the astounding talents and priceless contributions of those aged 8-26 years old. We want to inspire future generations to choose tourism as a career and join this fast-paced, exciting and vibrant industry which is the heartbeat of the Scottish economy.’
Donald Riddell, managing director of Highland Safaris, said: ‘It is wonderful to see young people engaging with tourism and recognising its importance to the Scottish economy and the career opportunities there are to drive excellent experiences for our visitors.
‘At Highland Safaris, visitors are engaging with our natural environment and we offer an authentic experience with excellent standards of customer service driven by our team across all of our products. We are very proud to have consistently achieved a five-star rating from VisitScotland.’
Lornshill Academy pupil Imogen McLeod, said: ‘It was a really great day and Highland Safaris is definitely five stars. The staff were all very welcoming and knowledgeable and it was exciting to be out in the wilderness and then feeding the red deer.
‘We got to experience what it is like working in the tourism industry and being a VisitScotland Quality and Tourism Advisor in particular which was fun and helps us for our future.’