Tourism companies and destination marketing organisations are being urged to work together to ensure they realise their local area’s full market potential.
A new toolkit, produced by Tourism Intelligence Scotland, outlines the practical steps that individual areas of Scotland should take to grow their market and realise their full tourism potential.
"5 Steps to Destination Development" includes a range of case studies, practical challenges and resources designed to inspire businesses in local areas to join forces and help turn their vision of a great tourism area into reality.
Speaking about the toolkit, Fergus Ewing MSP, Minister for Energy, Enterprise & Tourism, said: "The Destination Development Resource is an excellent way of sharing knowledge and expertise across the sector and making sure that visitors to Scotland have the best possible experience and want to come back for more.
"Scotland has so much to offer visitors, from magnificent scenery and wildlife to our wonderful natural larder, and if our businesses work together we can make even more out of this.
"The toolkit will help local areas see where they can develop the overall package that they have on offer to attract even more people from across the world."
Katrina Morrison, tourism strategic priorities manager at Scottish Enterprise, said: "There are currently over 200 local associations, groups and destination marketing organisations in Scotland, all striving to put their particular area on the tourism map.
"Those areas which have demonstrated real success in growing their market, however, are the ones where businesses are collaborating and working together to identify and fill gaps in the visitor experience, rather than competing internally.
"If areas are to succeed in such a highly competitive marketplace, a shared vision, along with organisation and co-ordination, are the keys.
"This new toolkit aims to inspire and enthuse as well as provide practical advice, assistance and insights to help areas grow their market and compete on the national tourism stage.
"The toolkit explains how, by bringing businesses with a common purpose together, areas can work collectively to improve their visitor offer.
"Practical challenges help groups to gauge how their area is currently performing and identify the gaps between what they have and what visitors actually want, as well as the steps they need to take to improve."
The toolkit also looks at how, by working together, groups can develop a realistic and achievable plan for the future and defines the steps needed to develop a realistic, achievable and sustainable area action plan.
The final step outlines some simple steps to help groups measure the difference they have made and to monitor their progress as they continue along the road to developing a great tourism area.
Each easy-to-use section comes complete with a series of challenges to work through as a group, plus a handy checklist and signposting to the practical resources needed to help an area achieve its goals.
A range of best-practice examples from across Scotland illustrate the success that can be achieved through a collaborative approach to developing an area in this way.
The toolkit is available free to registered users here.