VisitScotland reveals Year of Stories visitor research

Tour guides on History and Horror of Perth tour. (Photo: VisitScotland / Luigi Di Pasquale)

NEW research by VisitScotland for the Year of Stories has revealed that visitors still yearn for that human connection while visiting an attraction, taking part in a tour, or exploring a destination in Scotland.

Virtual and online experiences became the norm during two-years of lockdowns, but the national tourism organisation has found that in person experiences are top choice when it comes to storytelling.

New YouGov research commissioned by VisitScotland, as part of Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022, found that almost half (49%) of UK adults feel a tour with a guide or storyteller to share our stories would appeal to them.

The research also indicated other popular forms of storytelling including, exhibitions (44%), theatre and live performances (36%). TV and film were also noted (33%) as were books, comedy and music (30%, 27% and 23%).

Marie Christie, VisitScotland Head of Events Development, said: “These new findings underline just how important the live, in person experience is to visitors and that the people working across the tourism and events industry play an essential role in sharing Scotland’s stories.”

“The Year of Stories is a prime opportunity for the country to show off the best we have to offer visitors and locals and clearly nothing beats hearing tales being told in person.”

“As we move into the Autumn and Winter, there is still a packed programme of Year of Stories events on the horizon with so many talented people sharing our stories in all sorts of inventive and exciting ways across the country.”

Lyn Brown, Chairperson, Scottish Tourist Guides Association, said: “Scotland’s Year of Stories has shone a wonderful spotlight on storytelling. There is a wealth of stories to be told about Scotland’s history, places and people – and this is what tourist guides do every day.” 

“I was delighted to see that people prefer in-person storytelling, and our own experiences concur with the findings of the research – it has been one of our busiest seasons; every day there are emails from people looking for guides; many of our members are fully-booked; and already there are requests for guides in 2023.”

“We believe that only a real, live person telling a story face-to-face can bring that story to life, make sense of it in relation to other stories, and of course answer questions – and it is clear that this is what both domestic and international visitors want.”

Gillian MacDonald, Head of Sales and Marketing at Historic Environment Scotland (HES), said: “Across the historic sites in our care, our guides, volunteers and living history performers use storytelling as a way of bringing the history of these special places to life for visitors.”

“Through projects such as our If These Walls Could Talk competition, we are also engaging young people with the past through stories, using Scotland’s historic sites as inspiration for the next generation of storytellers.” 

Donald Smith, Director, Scottish International Storytelling Festival, said: “When someone shares their story directly ‘eye to eye, mind to mind, heart to heart’, they are gifting you something of themselves- there’s a special connection- and listeners feel the magic.”

For more on the Year of Stories 2022 and events visit:

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