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Digital Tourism Scotland evaluation: final report


The Digital Tourism Scotland (DTS) programme offers sector specific digital support to tourism businesses in Scotland. DTS is run as a partnership programme and has six main delivery partners: Scottish Enterprise (SE), Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA), VisitScotland, Skills Development Scotland (SDS) and Business Gateway. The programme has also been supported through part funding by the Scottish Government. After almost 4 years of delivering a range of digital support activities, online and on the ground, the programme has been independently evaluated in 2019 to assess benefits, impacts and help identify whether a case for further intervention still exists. The evaluation has concluded the programme has been successful.


SE commissioned Ekosgen, comprising Context Economics, Opus and IBP Strategy and Research, on behalf of DTS programme partners, to carry out the programme’s final evaluation. Methodology included 3 strands, desk research, consultations and focus groups with partners, destinations and industry groups and primary research with participants.


Delivery of DTS can be considered successful, and a good example of partnership working between enterprise and skills agencies, and other national agencies. SE acting as lead co-ordinating partner, and the increased role of VisitScotland has benefitted the programme. Programme delivery is most effective where there are strong local/sectoral networks. Due to the mix of delivery partners, local tourism organisations and regional partnerships, there has been inconsistency in local delivery, impacting on the level of business engagement – the most uniform delivery model is evident across the Highlands and Islands. DTS has achieved considerable outputs to date. It has exceeded its SMART programme targets for delivery and engagement of unique businesses at the programme level. Support provided through DTS is effective. Beneficiaries find the support useful with many considering it important to their business performance. The quality and relevance is a strength, and expertise of the trainers an asset. This gives DTS a high degree of credibility for participant businesses. DTS has increased digital skills and capability amongst supported tourism businesses, adoption of digital technologies in business operations, and contributed to a reported increase in productivity amongst almost three quarters of beneficiaries. Softer benefits such as increased confidence, aspirations and ability to make use of digital technology, were also reported. The net uplift in GVA to date and forecast in the future is £5.1m. The estimated net GVA impact gives a total ROI of £4.28 uplift in net GVA per £1 spent, based on the programme spend of c.£1.2m. Considerable resource has been committed to support the programme’s delivery, and consequently the return on investment is likely to be a quantum lower. Despite the impact achieved, a market failure still exists, and there remains a clear rationale for continued intervention to support tourism businesses to improve their digital capability.


Eight recommendations were put forward in the evaluation: the strategic partnership approach to delivery should be maintained; consideration should be given to the refinement of the management and local delivery models in place; there is a need to consider the best ways to address the barriers to engagement and participation for tourism businesses; there should be better segmentation of support by sub-sector and business size; the overall content and delivery of the workshop programme should be maintained and ways to respond better to technological changes across all levels of digital skills and industry sub-sectors should be further explored by partners; consideration should be given to the way in which aftercare or follow-up support can be provided to beneficiaries; more stretching targets should be employed in future; and the package of digital support currently provided through the DTS programme should be considered in terms of its alignment with existing and planned products and support delivery.

Author Ekosgen
Published Year 2019
Report Type Research
  • Business infrastructure
    Supporting key sectors
  • Enterprise
    Sector-level support, Support to existing/growth businesses
  • Sectors