It is estimated that over 50 million people in the world have Scottish ancestry. This link can be an important motivating factor for tourists to visit Scotland to both undertake family history research and to ‘walk in the footsteps’ of their ancestors. Ancestral tourists tend to stay longer, visit outside of the peak tourist season, visit areas across Scotland and are more likely to develop a connection that results in repeat visits. Ancestral tourism makes a significant contribution to the economy of Scotland and there remains a great deal of potential and opportunity to expand this growth.
Archive services can play a unique and incredibly fruitful part in this growing industry, helping to enhance and enrich the experiences of many tourists. Scottish Council on Archives are collecting information on the experience of archive services’ engagement with ancestral tourism through this short survey, to better identify its opportunities and challenges.
We know that the next year will be challenging, for both tourism and archivists, but are keen to explore ways SCA can support our sector, assisting services to demonstrate the very real benefit they can bring to local communities, supporting local businesses and raising their own profiles. Our findings from this survey will help inform what resources we can create to support archive services’ engagement with ancestral tourism.