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Thousands of children given “life changing” breaks

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An initiative which has given 1,100 vulnerable families, including 2,369 children, a “life-changing” short break in Scotland is transforming Scottish tourism, VisitScotland says.

Calzean CastleThe ScotSpirit Breaks, which enters its fourth year in 2019, is a nationwide social tourism project coordinated by the national tourism organisation and the Family Holiday Association .

Around 100 industry partners, from accommodation and transport providers to attractions, have been involved in the initiative since it began.

Over 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 donated to 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.

ScotSpiritThese are combined to make short breaks or day trips that are matched with families referred to the Family Holiday Association by our network of registered Scottish charities and social welfare organisations.  To date 160 different organisations have successfully referred families.

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 we support have never before been on a family holiday. The evidence shows that spending time together away from their daily struggles can be life-changing.

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.

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs said: “ScotSpirit Breaks is a hugely beneficial initiative that is giving disadvantaged families the opportunity to enjoy time away together for a much-needed break. It’s fantastic to see the reach of the project with thousands of people across the country benefitting from these experiences and having the chance to appreciate Scotland’s wonderful sights and attractions.

“The partnership working across the tourism sector to make ScotSpirit Breaks possible, demonstrates a generosity and inclusivity that the Scottish tourism sector can be proud of, and I hope the project will continue to build on its success, so more families can enjoy what Scotland has to offer.”

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said: “Scotland is about building bridges, connecting places and bringing people together. Tourism is at the heart of this and VisitScotland works with the tourism industry and strategic partners to ensure Scotland is an inclusive, welcoming destination for all.

“The ScotSpirit Breaks would not exist without the generosity of tourism industry businesses and partners who have kindly donated accommodation, transport and access to visitor attractions to create experiences that will have a long-lasting positive effect on those participating families.
“Ever since 2016, when we teamed up with the Family Holiday Association, the response has been amazing, and we remain committed to continuing the initiative and engage with more families and industry partners across Scotland.”

John Kinnear, Head of Programmes at the Family Holiday Association, said: “Giving struggling Scottish families the chance to be tourists in their own country makes a massive difference, broadening horizons and highlighting the fantastic opportunities on offer.

“Sadly, too many families miss out on these opportunities and it’s been fantastic to work with VisitScotland and dozens of generous industry partners to help create memories that will last a lifetime.”

Stewart Lorimer, Area General Manager at Hilton, said: “We are proud to have been a part of this amazing programme from the beginning, working with VisitScotland to give struggling families the chance of a well-deserved break.

“Over the past three years we have donated rooms in our Hilton properties across Scotland and it’s been wonderful to see our staff really engage with those families and ensure they have a memorable experience. We’re proud of what we have achieved and delighted to continue to support the ScotSpirit Breaks going forward.”

We are always looking for new partners to donate accommodation, transport or attraction tickets from across the UK that we can use to help families coping with some of the toughest challenges life can bring. Click here for more information.