The sky’s the limit for hospitality, travel and tourism

Urban and rural businesses from the travel, tourism, retail and hospitality sectors are being offered a hand to rebuild after Covid.

They are being given the opportunity to unlock success and stability thanks to a panel of experts committed to building Scotland’s business sector in the wake of the pandemic.

After a year of closed venues, staff shortages, reduced and anxious customers and visitors, and resulting low morale, businesses such as restaurants, hotels, guest houses, gift shops, tour companies, travel providers, and many more, can learn and benefit from the experience of others in their sector, by exploring the power of cross sector partnership to transform any business.

The Culture and Business Conference 2022 (taking place online today, Thursday February 10 from 2–5pm) brings together heads of industry, experts in commerce and business, and high-profile figures from the culture sector to talk about how cross sector partnerships can hold the key to solving the issues currently crippling the hospitality, tourism, and travel industries, among others.

Among the speakers are representatives of one of Scotland’s leading travel providers, Caledonian MacBrayne (Calmac), who will discuss the importance of the arts and culture when it comes to creating and cementing a visitor destination. Events, festivals, theatres, art galleries, music halls and museums attract visitors both locally and from further afield, which has a direct impact on travel providers by boosting numbers, and therefore profits. These cultural tourists also contribute significantly to the broader local economy.

Benny Higgins FRSE, a Scottish banker and former CEO of Tesco Bank, will also speak on the impact the culture sector can have on core business needs, such as staff retention and client and customer development. With a background based primarily in more populated central belt, Benny’s experience (he is also Executive Chairman of the Buccleuch Group, Chairman of the National Galleries of Scotland & The Edinburgh Fringe Society, and more) and anecdotal evidence gives real insight into the impact that cross sector partnerships can have on businesses of all sizes.

Another insightful speaker with experience of working with the full spectrum of businesses located in and around Glasgow is Stuart Patrick CBE of Glasgow Chambers of Commerce. Stuart has worked with every type of business, from local greengrocers to high-end boutiques, established restaurants to brand new hotels and he has many firsthand insights into how each and every business can benefit from the many and varied facets of the culture sector in Scotland.

David Watt, chief executive of Arts & Business Scotland, said: ‘The Culture and Business Conference 2022 is set to be the most well attended Arts & Business Scotland online event. This provides a unique opportunity to draw upon hundreds of different business perspectives and experiences, distil these down into sector specific issues, and begin the process of finding the right culture sector solution to help address these challenges – an incredibly exciting opportunity to contribute to collective social and economic need.

‘Right now, the travel, tourism, retail and hospitality sectors are clearly struggling, both in regards customers and staff, but we believe our panel of experts will share potential creative solutions to just these issues, which can be vital to so many businesses in the current situation.

‘So often cross sector partnerships between a business and a culture sector organisation are perceived as one sided, skewed in favour of the latter, with the business receiving little in return for their investment. This could not be further from the truth, with many enlightened businesses already realising significant return on their investment, in terms of opening up new market opportunities or supporting their people. The actual fact is, and not least in the wake of the pandemic, that the culture sector is a hotbed of creativity that can help transform any business.’

For more than 40 years Arts & Business Scotland has worked with thousands of small, medium, and larger businesses (and public sector organisations) located the length and breadth of Scotland, supporting them with information, professional development, and funding to help create long-lasting and mutually beneficial partnerships within the culture sector. These include, but are not limited to, The Sligachan Hotel (Isle of Skye), The Scottish Salmon Company (Edinburgh), NCR Financial Solutions Group (Dundee), D&E Coaches (Inverness), Clarkston Chiropractic (Glasgow), Mactaggart & Mickel (Haddington), Norco Energy Ltd (Aberdeen), An Lanntair & Gael Force Group & Stornoway Port Authority (Isle of Lewis), MacPherson Electrical Ltd (Isle of Skye), and Jardine Funeral Directors (Dumfries & Galloway).

Taking place online on Thursday 10 February from 2pm – 5pm the Culture and Business Scotland Conference 2022 is hosted by Pauline McLean, Arts Correspondent at BBC Scotland and explores the value, benefits and return on developing cross sector partnerships.

For more information and to sign up visit