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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 four successful cohorts with organisations from across Scotland under our belts, the fifth is starting at the end of January 2022. 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.

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 fifth cohort is set to start with a two day virtual residential on 21/22 January 2022. Applications are open now.


Apply now

Closing date for applications is Wednesday 8 December, 12 noon.

Apply here

Cohort five overview

Cohort 5  - Programme Dates

Fri/Sat 21 & 22 January – virtual residential, 10am-4pm

Tues 25 Jan – evening speaker, 7pm-8.30pm

Tues 1 February – evening speaker, 7pm-8.30pm 

Tues 8 February – evening speaker, 7pm-8.30pm 

Fri/Sat 25/26 February – virtual study trip, 10am-4pm 

Tues 1 March – evening speaker, 7pm-8.30pm 

Tues 8 March – evening speaker, 7pm-8.30pm 

Tues 15 March – evening speaker, 7pm-8.30pm 

Fri/Sat 25 & 26 March – virtual residential, 10am-4pm  

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

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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