MEET THE COMMITTEE
Industry Relations &
SITOA regularly represents all members in discussion with The Scottish Tourism Alliance, the Scottish Government, VisitScotland, Historic Environment Scotland and other national bodies.
By providing relevant and up to date industry feedback as required we make sure the specific needs of our Tour Operators are recognised in the development of national strategy, policy and ongoing initiatives.
SITOA works in partnership with both national and local organisations for the benefit of our members and our tour guests.
We work with the Historic Environment Scotland (HES), the body responsible for managing and operating many of the significant historical buildings across Scotland. We also work with the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) a national charity responsible for an independent charity that protects and shares some of our country’s most precious historic places and natural landscapes on behalf of the people of Scotland.
SITOA has negotiated partnership agreements with more than 20 of the privately owned or charity run visitor attractions as well as developing ongoing discussion with the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions which represents around 240across the length and breadth of Scotland.
As part of a programme of updates and education SITOA works with regional tourism organisations to offer inspiring webinars, FAM visits and expert knowledge. We also work with national organisations such as The Energy Trust to offer members updated information on a range of topical subjects such as sustainability and electric vehicles.
At a more local level, SITOA works with individual organisations, small charities and businesses to inform and educate our members about the vast collection of special places which our tour guests would enjoy when in Scotland.
As frequent visitors, with our guests, to many attractions across Scotland, SITOA members offer their own constructive feedback from our tour guests to organisations, which is welcomed.
- We represent around 150 tour operator businesses
- Our members travel across the length and breadth of Scotland from Shetland to The Borders, and from Skye to St Andrews.
- Our members offer Day Tours and extended Multi-Day tours for small groups.
- As tour operators the majority of our members all own their own vehicles which range in capacity from up to four guests, up to eight passengers and also 16-seater mini-coaches.
Our members offer:
- Private Tours for families and friends
- Small Group Tours with individual booked seats
- Multi-Day Tours ranging from 2 days to over 14 days
- Itinerary Planning and all aspects of designing a private tour to Scotland.
- In general, we do not provide accommodation as part of our tours, however we are always happy to recommend places to stay to suit all budgets.
Anyone booking a tour with a member of SITOA can expect the following professional standards:
- Vehicles will be clean, roadworthy and properly insured with Hire and Reward insurance and all businesses will have Public Liability Insurance
- Guides will ensure that your health and safety is a priority throughout the tour
- You will have the opportunity to engage with the rich history and modern story of Scotland through the eyes of an enthusiastic Tour Guide
- Supporting best practices in responsible tourism
- Treating clients and third parties with courtesy and respect
- Treating the communities, environment and attractions you visit with respect
- We encourage our members to offset all carbon emissions caused by our vehicles.
- We actively recycle all plastic waste and glass bottles generated on our tours.
- We support local and national programmes such as ‘Leave No Trace,’ Keep Scotland Beautiful and other local schemes.
Adherence to the SITOA Code of Ethics provides visitors to Scotland an assurance of the high level of professionalism and service offered by SITOA guides to their clients. All tour guides and operator organisation who are members of the Scottish Independent Tour Operator Association accept the principles and aims as follows:
• SITOA guides shall always be well-presented, courteous, honest, trustworthy and dedicated.
• SITOA guides shall always safeguard his or her reputation and professional image as a professional guide.
• SITOA guides shall provide a professional service to visitors and conduct themselves in a professional manner when providing an objective understanding of the place visited, free from prejudice or bias.
• SITOA guides shall not be involved in any conduct or act which is not damaging to the professional image of the tourism industry in Scotland or of the country.
• SITOA guides shall not use abusive language or be involved in any altercations with the client or any other person at any time in the exercise of their tour.
• SITOA guides shall not bad-mouth or criticise their colleagues, any establishment or organisation, the Government (either Uk or Scottish) or its policies or persons in the exercise of their duty.
• SITOA guides shall act fairly and reasonable in all dealings with all those who engage the services of guides and with colleagues working in all aspects of tourism.
• SITOA guides shall protect the reputation of tourism in our country by making every endeavour to ensure that guided groups treat with respect the environment, wildlife, sights and monuments, and also local customs and traditions.
• SITOA guides shall as representatives of the host country to welcome visitors and act in such a way as to bring credit to Scotland and promote it as a tourist destination.
• SITOA guides shall always maintain information and materials on the history and culture of Scotland and tourism agency (Visit Scotland etc) information for the better and effective delivery of the tour.
• SITOA guides shall ensure that as far as possible what is presented as fact is true, and that a clear distinction is made between the truth and stories, legends, traditions, or opinions.
• SITOA guides shall have good public relations value, and shall maintain friendly relations and cooperation with other tourist organisations domestically and internationally.
• SITOA guides shall always try to understand the character and needs of the tourists or any person under their care.
• SITOA guides shall exercise his or her duty with due care to ensure that the tourists or any person under their care are not placed under any untoward danger or unnecessary risks due to their actions or omissions.
• SITOA guides shall insure that all relevant insurances are in place for the nature of their business and activities.
Established in January 2021, SITOA’s three founding members were compelled to create an association after seeing so many small, local Tour Operators consistently miss out on Covid 19 emergency rounds of funding in 2020.
The original aim of the association was to give the independent tour operators a voice – a seat at the table where financial assistance and support was being discussed.
Within weeks, more than 120 businesses had joined the Association which demonstrated the significant contribution these Tour Operators make within Scottish tourism.
Following significant discussion with VisitScotland and The Scottish Tourism Alliance, it was agreed that a grant of £3m would be made available in March 2021 for Day Tour and Multi-Day Tour Operators
Expanded Member Benefits
The Association continues to develop
OUR CORE VALUES
Representation for all in the Industry
We want all Independent Tour Operators in Scotland to have a strong collective voice