An initiative which has given 1,100 vulnerable families, including 2,369 children, a life-changing short break in Scotland is transforming Scottish tourism, claims VisitScotland.
The ScotSpirit Breaks, which enters its fourth year in 2019, is a nationwide social tourism project co-ordinated by the national tourism organisation and the Family Holiday Association charity.
Over 100 industry partners, from accommodation and transport providers to attractions, have been involved in the initiative since it began.
During the last three years more than 4,300 people have experienced 319 short breaks and 780 day-trips in Scotland as part of the project.
Last year marked the Year of Young People and during that time 934 children experienced a ScotSpirit Break, with 2369 in total from 2016-2018.
A survey carried out last year with businesses involved in the ScotSpirit Breaks found that all respondents supported the initiative due to a “desire to support a good cause (helping disadvantaged families)” with two thirds believing that breaks “should be inclusive and be available to everyone in society”.
VisitScotland launched the initiative in 2016 to raise the importance of social tourism in Scotland and illustrate the true spirit of Scotland through the warmth and generosity of the tourism industry.
Businesses and partners across the tourism sector donate accommodation, transport and tickets for family-friendly visitor attractions and experiences.
These are combined to make short breaks or day trips that are matched with families referred by charities and social welfare organisations across Scotland. To date 150 different Scottish charities and social welfare organisations have successfully referred families to the Family Holiday Association which has been helping families get a break for more than 40 years.
Statistics show that more than one in three families in Scotland are unable to take a break – be it due to cost, ill-health, caring responsibilities or a lack of confidence – with more than 230,000 children living in relative poverty.
The majority of families the Family Holiday Association supports have never before been on a family holiday. The evidence shows that spending time together away from their daily struggles can be life-changing for the families they work with.
A survey of families who have received a ScotSpirit Break found:
- Almost 70% of families went away together for the first time.
- 87% visited somewhere new in Scotland.
- 97% of children had a new experience.
- Families from 27 local authority areas have benefitted from a break.