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Tourism: Evaluation of Intervention with Clusters and Industries


The Evaluation of Intervention with Clusters and Industries in Scotland aims to be a learning evaluation for Scottish Enterprise (SE) on the policy interventions pursued to date. The research objectives for this study focus on five principal learning areas: the appropriateness of cluster and industry policies and strategies; the rationale of programme selection and design in the light of strategic intent; the efficacy of cluster and industry interventions seeking to improve critical factor inputs; learning lessons and the adaptation and evolution of the approach; and broader SE support and resourcing. This report is one of the fifteen cluster- and industry-specific reports that have been prepared as background to the main report. In relation to the tourism industry, the report focuses on: the rationale behind SE involvement in the cluster and the appropriateness of the strategy; how the cluster work has rolled out in practice and in light of expectations; and the lessons learnt and how SE should go forward.


The report has been primarily based on a desk review of the individual clusters and industries - collected and collated by SE and ECOTEC jointly. A total of 16 interviews were then held with industry representatives, public sector organisations and appropriate SE staff. The main findings and conclusions have been tested with independent sector experts and reviewed by relevant SE stakeholders.


The original rationale for intervention, and selection of a cluster approach, was sound, based on a combination of clear market failure, but in the light of significant economic opportunity. The tourism cluster has achieved much in building industry leadership and tackling the dependency culture and conservatism that previously held the industry back. It now has the potential to achieve the transition to a more responsive and innovative sector. Tourism cluster activity has achieved a high degree of coherence over the period 2001-2005, due to the consistent application of a straightforward framework comprising the mutually reinforcing themes of innovation, skills and infrastructure. The impact of significant investments in skills is difficult to measure, although case study evidence is available of training being translated into outcomes. This remains a challenge however as significant numbers of tourism businesses still do not undertake any training. It is suggested that the core Cluster Team has the skills required to implement the agreed tourism interventions effectively.


The report recommends that the Tourism Cluster should continue. There is a need to bring the themes of innovation, skills and infrastructure together under an overarching industry strategy group. Tension between LEC and national delivery needs to be addressed. Performance indicators need to be reviewed with a view to rationalisation around fewer and more appropriate measures. An evaluation of the key destination approach piloted at St Andrews should be used to inform roll-out of that model to other key destinations. There is a strong case for retaining industry specific products in the case of tourism. Opportunities to strengthen links with other clusters, in particular food and drink, should be seized.

Published Year 2009
Report Type Evaluation
  • Enterprise
    Sector-level support
  • Sectors