Media Release: SYHA continues to champion ‘social tourism’ in Scotland


IN 2016, SYHA Hostelling Scotland (SYHA) offered 20 free holiday breaks to vulnerable and disadvantaged families living in Scotland in seven youth hostels across its network – Edinburgh, Glasgow, Cairngorm Lodge, Stirling, Aberdeen, Aviemore and Inverness.

The short breaks were enjoyed by families unable to take a holiday due to cost, ill-health or caring responsibilities, as part of a ‘social tourism’ initiative run by VisitScotland in partnership with The Family Holiday Association.

VisitScotland’s ScotSpirit campaign was a social tourism drive intended to illustrate the true Spirit of Scotland through the warmth and generosity of the people.

More than 30 industry partners, accommodation providers and tourist attractions got involved, working together with VisitScotland and the UK charity, the Family Holiday Association, to offer short breaks to 250 struggling families (979 adults and children), by providing a vital break from their day-to-day challenges.

Donna Thompson, sales manager at SYHA Hostelling Scotland, said: “SYHA were delighted to be involved in the ScotSpirit breaks campaign.

“As an organisation, we have been offering holidays to young people for many years through the various SYHA youth programmes including Give Us a Break. SYHA was happy to be part of this initiative by offering families the opportunity to experience a much needed city or rural break with us.”

The legacy from the ScotSpirit initiative in 2016 is extensive. Early in the new year, VisitScotland will host a roundtable event to discuss successes and lessons learned and the future of social tourism in Scotland.

SYHA will continue their growing youth programme portfolio in 2017.

These include Give Us A Break, a funded residential programme which aims to tackle social exclusion by offering groups of vulnerable or disadvantaged young people the opportunity to take part in activity holidays at youth hostels across Scotland.

The hugely-successful Give Us A Break programme enters into its 13th year in 2017.

Another key initiative within SYHA’s youth programme portfolio is the SYHA Youth Active Grant scheme that helps young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to take part in a school or youth group residential trip.

SYHA’s Youth Active Grants (of up to 40 per cent, subject to available funds) are available to young people who may not otherwise have the opportunity to experience a residential trip due to their particular circumstances which result in social exclusion, deprivation or other disadvantage.

Applications are currently being sought for 2017.

SYHA also work in partnership with the Gannochy Trust to offer groups of young people and their teachers from Perth and Tayside a two-night residential stay full of outdoor activities and challenges.

The youth programme portfolio is now linked with Children’s University Scotland (CU), a national charity that seeks to engage young people in learning outside the classroom.

The partnership will mean that any CU member who takes part in one of the SYHA Youth Programmes, or who visits a centre in Scotland as part of a family trip, can receive credits in their passport in recognition of the educational value of their experiences.

For more information on SYHA Hostelling Scotland, go to

For downloadable images of hostels and SYHA Youth Programmes, go to


Media contact:

Paddy Cuthbert | Littlehouse Media | E: | M: 07913 951717

Notes to editors:

SYHA Hostelling Scotland is a self-funding charity operating a network of over 60 exceptional youth and affiliate hostels for the benefit of all those wishing to learn and experience what Scotland has to offer. Our unique sites provide affordable, comfortable, safe and quality-assured accommodation with a warm friendly welcome, local knowledge, activities and services for guests travelling around Scotland.

Social Tourism

  • ‘Social tourism’ is a term used to describe a wide variety of holiday types, destinations and target groups ranging from small charities organising holidays for children from low-income backgrounds, over government plans improving accessibility in hotels, to private tour operators offering ecological holidays. What all ‘social tourism’ initiatives have in common is that their primary aim is to include people in tourism who would otherwise be excluded from it.
  • The Family Holiday Association is the only national charity dedicated to providing seaside breaks and day trips for families struggling with some of the toughest challenges life can bring.

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Contact: Paddy Cuthbert