When I worked for VisitScotland it was pre the current economy when staycation was not a word in our vocabulary. It used to worry me that we were all taking our kids abroad far more than we were holidaying in our country. This used to concern me not just for the current tourism economy but for the future as well. As we all create memories of happy times in our childhood. But if kids are not taken on holiday in the UK the memories that they will want to re-create with their kids will be on beaches in Europe, Florida or elsewhere.
With the concept of the staycation this has changed as many families are holidaying in the UK and hopefully for many this will be a change that will stay in their lives as I do believe that it is important for the current and future success of tourism. No it’s not the only success factor but it is an important one.
I must admit I did think that we had done this with our own kids as even when our main holiday was in Spain we usually had one or two short breaks in the UK. This was untill we went on holiday to Kintyre. My son slept a great part of the way as he recovered from a bug. So it was my daughters reaction that took me aback. We had just passed Callendar when she commented on how big the mountains were and how different the landscape was from home. I was delighted that she was so taken with it but thought to myself that she had seen it before. When it hit me that the last time we had been up in the West Coast or Highlands she was under five and to young to remember. Yes she knew the rolling hills of the Borders, the East Coast up to Aberdeen and the major cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh. But this rugged beautiful part of the country was all new to her. She spent the entire journey asking questions and commenting about the changing landscape. And I realised that our holiday was essential for my children to realise how beautiful Scotland is as a country and that holidays here are as much fun as going abroad. So that in the future they will take their kids on holiday here.
As my husband and I said throughout the holiday. We were lucky we got almost wall to wall sunshine in one of the most beautiful parts of the country. We will probably try to re-create that holiday for many years to come. But it did make us realise that while our kids are the ages that they are (10 and 7) we need to do what we can to show them this wonderful country of ours. For the tourism industry yes but to give them a deep love and appreciation of their country. And to allow them in years to come to remember previous holidays and connect back with themselves. For me our holiday in Kintyre was not just a rest for my 42 year old self but connecting with my younger self and connecting with a part of the country that I love but had not visited in years.
So I am not saying don’t go abroad as that is so important too to learn language and cultural skills and give a wider horizon. But what I have learnt from this holiday is that it is also important to show our kids their own country. To assist the tourism industry in the present and future but also to create Scottish ambassadors and give us all a better understanding of different parts of this country from the rolling green of the Borders to the blue of Kintyre and the Islands.