The importance of innovation in tourism

Dalkeith Country Park's new retail, food, drink and wellbeing space, named Restoration Yard.

Dalkeith Country Park's new retail, food, drink and wellbeing space, named Restoration Yard.

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It’s great to see the transformation at Dalkeith Country Park, writes Ian Gardner (Midlothian Tourism Forum).

The opening of the innovative Restoration Yard, with its cafe and shop in the wonderful setting of the restored courtyard – and, of course, the opening of the new adventure park, Fort Douglas – is a great addition to the range of things to see and do in Midlothian, and sure to become a favourite for visitors and locals alike.

Innovation is crucial in tourism and often influences someone's decision to visit or stay somewhere in the first place or, just as importantly, turn someone into a regular or repeat customer. Innovation can apply to marketing, such as in social media or developing new apps, or the experience offered to visitors and it doesn't have to be at the scale of the Restoration Yard or the very innovative and popular Pokemon Go! For restaurants and coffee shops, innovation might mean a simple change to the menu and for attractions, it might mean staging some new events – Newbattle Abbey College's Puttin’ on the Blitz event on September 10, from 10am to 4pm is a good example with its exhibition, film screening, military vehicles and 1940s entertainment. And there's more innovation at Rosslyn Chapel on September 23 and 24, with two outdoor screenings of The Da Vinci Code, with those attending invited to bring rugs or garden chairs and keep their fingers crossed for reasonable weather! Innovation can enhance a reputation, such as at Dalhousie Castle which has recently achieved 4-star AA hotel rating, based on the facilities on offer in the hotel and its grounds and there's large scale innovation at Borthwick Castle, which has recently re-opened to great acclaim. Tourism businesses large and small can easily become more innovative and being a member of the Midlothian Tourism Forum is a great to learn from others and share good practice. Becoming a member might be the start of innovation. As a local resident, to keep up-to-date with innovations across Midlothian's tourism businesses, you can follow Midlothian Tourism Forum on Facebook or Twitter (just search for 'Visit Midlothian') and keep an eye on the forum's website as well. You might just discover some new and innovative things about Midlothian for yourself.