It’s an occupational hazard, running a media outlet such as Place Design Scotland: there is never any shortage of ideas, including potential campaigns and projects. We have decided to let the readers decide which one we should seriously consider pursuing, and will be launching a poll of members in due course. Our second candidate is… drum roll, please… Weekend Destinations
THERE is no doubt a market in people taking weekend breaks. Hazarding the guess that many of these breaks are taken by couples at the older end of the age range, and perhaps also relatively monied, these breaks are unquestionably a source of income for those places being visited.
But for every Pitlochry, North Berwick or Crail, there will be as many Scots towns that barely ever feature on the weekend break map.
It’s not difficult to imagine what it might take to make a place a visitor destination, and it’s not necessarily a multi-million pound ‘visitor experience’ – although that’s not to say that such initiatives don’t have any impact.
At a basic level, weekend breaks can be no more complicated than a warm welcome, a decent and friendly place to eat, and being able to idly walk along a street that contains several points of interest.
Providing the sure and certain knowledge that there are interesting things to do requires a degree of buy-in from key stakeholders, such as shop owners, bar operators and local sports clubs.
Of course, all of this pre-supposes that folk would want their town to become more of a visitor destination – which perhaps is not a given.
So, what might we require of shop owners – specifically owners of empty shops?
They might provide free space for artists, to operate workshops with a drop-in facility, tapping not least into the recent public appetite for watching artists and artisans at work.
In the meantime, local sports clubs could collaborate to ensure there is always some sport to watch on a Saturday afternoon.
And bar and theatre space providers could similarly work together to guarantee entertainment (not always music, but potentially also small-scale theatre and speaker events) on Friday and Saturday evenings.
This is not a complicated possible campaign to deliver. A dedicated website and a collaborative spirit is potentially all it requires, including to co-ordinate a Weekend Destinations network, comprising several member towns.
And it might be that Place Design Scotland could help co-ordinate such a network, including managing any website, booking artists and matchmaking artists with owners of empty shops.
It would, of course, require some level of resource.
Mike Wilson is a member of the Place Design Scotland team
Picture credit: Place Design Scotland