Media tourism and COVID-19: An empirical investigation of the impact of COVID-19 on the Scottish tourism industry

Stephanie Garrison* (Corresponding Author), Claire Wallace, Xiaoqing Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The growth of Scotland’s creative industries within the last decade has resulted in a significant rise in media tourism, a sub-sector of cultural tourism which focuses on tourism inspired by media such as novels, films, and television series. In March 2020 when Scotland’s tourism and hospitality industry would typically be preparing to welcome visitors, the nation went into a national lockdown due to mounting concerns over the rapidly spreading coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). This ‘black swan event’ brought Scotland’s tourism industry to a complete halt with government-mandated cessation of international travel, stay-at-home orders, and the closure of non-essential businesses going into effect. By drawing on qualitative interviews with Scotland-based tour operators and international travel bloggers, as well as examining the strategies of heritage and conservation charities and national tourism bodies this paper explores how media tourism, as a main form of tourism in Scotland, was restructured during the pandemic. From this data, the authors consider three phases of the 2020 season beginning with an initial lockdown which evolved into a stalled seasonal start and concluded with a truncated summer season. This paper highlights the challenges presented to those in the industry and how these challenges were mitigated through the use of digital platforms from the creation of ‘virtual tours’ and using social media for a ‘top of mind’ marketing approach to the use of online booking platforms for track and trace and measuring visitor numbers. It then turns to explore the different strategies adopted to create a sustainable tourism model for re-opening. In looking to the future of Scotland’s tourism industry, the paper concludes with what the expectations are for the industry and recommendations for sustaining the industry in a post-coronavirus climate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-218
Number of pages12
JournalTourism Culture & Communication
Issue number2-3
Early online date9 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2023


  • coronavirus
  • digital technologies
  • media tourism
  • popular culture


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