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Cta Man

Communities Leading in Tourism

As rural Scotland’s local economies look to rebuild in the face of a global pandemic, we now more than ever need a place-based community-led approach to recovery. This programme provides an opportunity for communities to engage and shape the future of local tourism and to share the value and benefits.

What is it?

Communities Leading in Tourism is a personal development programme which will give you, and your community organisation, the knowledge and leadership skills you’ll need to influence, plan and manage sustainable tourism recovery for the benefit of your community.

With three successful cohorts from across the Highlands and Islands and South of Scotland under our belts, the fourth is now underway, and has expanded the network Scotland wide. The programme is part of the Scottish Tourism Leadership Programme, and brings the community and tourism sector together to maximise local tourism opportunities. It is delivered by the Social Enterprise Academy on behalf of the Scottish Government, HIE, South of Scotland Enterprise, Scottish Enterprise and Skills Development Scotland.

Our fifth cohort of up to 30 people from across Scotland will start in 2022. 

Who is this course for?

If you are working or volunteering with community organisations and/or social enterprises with an interest in tourism, this programme could be for you. As places are limited, places are competitive and we’ll be looking for aspiring future leaders from across rural Scotland who can demonstrate:

  • how taking part will help you deliver long term local benefit; and
  • that you can commit to the full programme.

Why choose this programme?

  • Develop your personal leadership skills and insight into the potential opportunities tourism offers your community.
  • Gain a thorough understanding of the complexities of the tourism sector.
  • Hear inspiring stories of communities, in the UK and internationally, who have taken a lead in tourism to build economic resilience.
  • Create a strategic vision and plan for leading the sustainable development of tourism in Scotland, to support recovery post Covid-19.
  • Participate in a global community of practice sharing experience, insights and inspiration around community led tourism.

What is involved?

This programme consists of facilitated Zoom calls, self-directed learning through an online learning platform and guest speaker webinars.

It's a 12 day programme, and while we've had COVID-19 restrictions, it has been delivered entirely online over a three month period. Participants are led by tourism specialists, and are taking part in three x 2-day facilitated ‘Virtual Residentials’, six evening webinars and approximately 4-6 hours per module of self-directed learning outside the live sessions. Topics being explored include: practical implications and solutions in relation to the tourism sector COVID-19 recovery; seeing what others are doing from a range of business, social enterprise and community case studies. There is also access to a wide range of online learning resources.

Proposed dates

The fourth cohort started in September '21. Applications for the 2022 intake will open later in the year. You can register interest now and we'll let you know when there's more information.


More information

The next programme is due to start in early 2022.

Register your interest

Murdo Morrison
If you have an interest in tourism and you want to expand your knowledge, and get fresh ideas and thinking on how to approach the tourism market, then you should go for it.
Murdo Morrison, Isle of Lewis, participant in cohort 1

Cyclist stopped on the hills taking a picture of the scenic view on his mobile phone at Cairngorm National Park

Scottish Tourism Leadership Programme

Communities Leading in Tourism is part of the Scottish Tourism Leadership Programme. Funded by the Scottish Government, and delivered by a partnership of Scotland's enterprise agencies and Skills Development Scotland, its aim is to support leadership skills development, helping the sector recover from COVID-19.

As well as the Communities Leading in Tourism course, applications are open now for additional short and long courses being delivered by Edinburgh Napier University. Focusing on leadership and destination development, there are eight cohorts to apply for. 

We're building on the experience of the successful Destination Leaders Programme (DLP), Communities Leading in Tourism network, and Rural Leadership Programme (RLP) with exclusive access for participants to:

  • Alumni Programme & Leadership Conference (date TBC)
  • Tourism Leadership & Recovery Fund

Current Course Overview

Cohort 4 – Programme overview




High level content

Module 1

TUES 28th September &

SAT 2nd October

Facilitated Zoom sessions (daytime + evening session on the Tuesday)

  • Explore what kind of leadership is required in the tourism sector
  • Understand the impacts of the pandemic on tourism, the emerging new norm and the role of communities within it

Module 2

TUES 5 Oct

Evening webinar

  • Develop a Growth Mindset

Module 3

MON 11 October

Evening webinar (with 2 weeks to complete all self-directed learning for this module due to holidays)

  • Destination Development & Management

Module 4

TUES 26 Oct

Evening webinar

  • Who are your visitors?

Module 5

FRI 5 & SAT 6 Nov

Facilitated Zoom sessions (daytime + evening session on the Friday)

  • Virtual study tour

Module 6

TUES 9 Nov

Evening webinar

  • Market positioning and market led tourism

Module 7

TUES 16 Nov

Evening webinar

  • Positioning your destination amongst competitors

Module 8

TUES 23 Nov

Evening webinar

  • Develop skills in Managing Change and Avoiding Conflict

Module 9

FRI 3 & SAT 4 Dec

Facilitated Zoom sessions (daytime + evening session on the Friday)

  • Refine and present vision for Community Led ventures and for leading the development of tourism in your destinations

Meet some of our previous participants

Russell Fraser has completed the Communities Leading in Tourism programme. Find out all about the project he works with.

Loch Ness Hub

Unst Tourism

Catriona Waddington from Wild Skies Shetland has also taken part. Find out about community led tourism in our most northerly island.

Visit Unst
Loch Ness Hub Outdoor
Timespan staff standing in front of bridge


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