Friday, 5 October 2018

Tightfisted hotels blight Scotlands tourism industry, but the future looks bright.

A panoramic picture of a Sunrise over the Quiraing on the Isle of Skye in Scotland
Sunrise over the Quiraing on the Isle of Skye in Scotland

The negative perception of quality and poor value for money in Scottish tourism is real and persistent.

When selling Scotland to overseas tour operators this is a constant refrain. So where does this reputation come from?

Well, to take an example from my personal experience about five years ago I was on a site visit with a French tour operator.

The hotels we visited went from poor to terrible the further north we travelled from Edinburgh.

I remember visiting a hotel on Skye where we were gagging when we were shown a filthy bathroom in a two-star hotel.

We then visited another hotel a few miles along the road which was in the midst of renovating. They had a courtyard in the middle of the hotel and had decided that would be a good place to store all the toilets they were ripping out of the rooms. They had produced a ten-foot high pile of toilets like some grotesque modern sculpture. This was what half the rooms looked out on. I took it up with the manager who was surprised I thought it unacceptable.

Another hotel in Oban had an area of waste ground which for years we had complaints about. I spoke to the hotel about it and they told me the council owned the site and asked if I could complain to them directly which I did. I heard back from that they would look into it but a year later we were still receiving complaints.

These standards were so poor it was embarrassing.

I know one UKinbound member used to hand clients letters of apologises on arrival at the airport blaming the famous Scottish trait of tightfistedness on the standards of hotels.

These issues go back to the legacy of the terrible saga of Swallow hotels which still blights the industry. (Swallow hotels purchased a lot of hotels throughout the UK and then collapsed leaving the hotels in administration and without investment for years).

The problem is the reputation of Scotland was really tarnished by these hotels and overshadow the excellent work being done by the majority of our professional hoteliers and suppliers.

However on a more positive note, I am pleased to say that the standards have improved markedly over the last few years and we don’t have these horror stories anymore.

There in now an increasing number of excellent restaurants, visitor attractions and greatly improved infrastructure all of which improves the quality of the visitors experience of Scotland.

Further, a combination of government support and private sector investment has raised standards throughout the industry

More work needs to be done training frontline staff in customer service but overall the picture is very positive.

I am happy to be a proud ambassador of Scotland once again.


James Aitken
Managing Director