Scottish walking tour business establishes new routes for growth following Business Gateway support

Walking Tours in the UK

A GLASGOW-founded walking tour business has successfully expanded into 13 cities across the UK following expert advice and support from Business Gateway.  

First established in 2017, Walking Tours in the UK gives visitors and locals the chance to explore cities, towns and hotspots with expert local tour guides. Breaking the stereotype of traditional, boring tour guides, Walking Tours in the UK has guides from all walks of life, allowing people to discover the UK through a passionate local’s eyes. 

Friends Jenny Benson and Liv Barber were studying at university when they spotted an opportunity to start a history walking tour in Glasgow and share their love of the city with others. 

Despite having no background in tourism, the pair spent £50 to start a limited company, set up a Facebook page, and began marketing the tour, which quickly grew in popularity with more than 350 tours given in the first year.  

Blown away by the popularity of their tours, the duo went on to hire their first guide to join them as an additional Glasgow tour guide in the first year. Then in 2019, following a couple of years of travelling, and armed with a better understanding of tourism, Jenny and Liv went on to expand the tours to Inverness, Stirling, and St Andrews. 

After a few years of successfully running the business and navigating the challenges of the pandemic, Jenny and Liv looked to develop a longer-term strategy to ensure their business kept growing. They approached Business Gateway in 2022, having engaged with the service’s webinars when Walking Tours in the UK first launched.  

Through Business Gateway, Jenny and Liv benefitted from one-to-one support from a dedicated business adviser, as well as expert advice on hiring and routes to funding.  

Support from their Business Gateway adviser allowed the pair to access a Tier 2 Consultancy Award to the value of £6,750 from the Glasgow City Council, ERDF funded, Glasgow Business Growth Programme. This funding allowed them to access consultancy support from experts at Matrix, a business growth consultancy business, who have helped them to develop a robust growth strategy plan until 2026 and future-proofing the business.  

Jenny was also able to participate in a Women-Led Accelerator programme. This was also part of the ERDF funded Glasgow Business Growth programme, a nine-week business support programme designed to support 15 ambitious female-led Glasgow SMEs who are keen to achieve business growth.  

Walking Tours in The UK now operates in 13 cities including Liverpool and Birmingham and has more than 50 tour guides. Jenny and Liv have recently introduced new ‘Wee Walk and a Whisky’ tour in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Oban, a ‘Wee Walk and a Cocktail’ in St Andrews, as well as a ‘Wee Walk and a Gin’ tour in Stirling. 

Jenny Benson, Co-founder, Walking Tours in the UK, said: “We had no idea when we launched our first tour all those years ago that it would snowball as much as it did. Business Gateway has been a fantastic source of support and has helped us establish a solid plan for business growth over the next few years. We wouldn’t have been able to access the high-quality support and funding without them.”

Karen Fotheringham, Business Gateway adviser, said: “Jenny and Liv identified a real niche in the market working with local specialist guides full of very localised passion and knowledge. We were able to support them through Business Gateway’s growth business services and signposting them to critical funding. I’m sure the popularity of Walking Tours in the UK will continue in the years to come.” 

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