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We’re delighted to confirm that Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters will flow into 2021, and we have a range of industry assets to encourage businesses, destinations and organisations to get on board with the Themed Year.

The Year of Coasts and Waters set sail in January 2020 with strong engagement from the tourism and events sector and beyond, and an overwhelmingly positive response from visitors and locals. However, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a curtailment of the planned events programme and promotional activities.

Given the strong engagement across all stakeholder groups including the events and festivals sector, tourism businesses and partners aligned to the theme, there has been overwhelming support and commitment from the industry and the Scottish Government to extend the opportunity of the celebratory year into 2021.

Get involved

A refreshed marketing toolkit for industry, packed with hints and tips, a revised logo and FAQs has been launched, to help destinations, businesses and organisations think about how they can use the Themed Years platform to inspire and engage visitors in the months ahead as part of their recovery plans.

A suite of new case studies looks at how organisations such as Historic Environment ScotlandNatureScot and the National Trust for Scotland have developed activities, content and events using the Themed Year to engage with their customers and stakeholders.

There’s also an insight into how individual businesses got involved with the year such as Dunnet Bay Distillery creating an innovative new visitor experience with their tasting room and Gleneagles using the theme in their restaurant to celebrate Scotland’s seafood.

While much of our activity, including our flagship Year of Coasts and Waters event, had to be put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were pleased to be able to adapt some of our activity digitally, including our Scotland’s Coasts exhibition, to ensure that our visitors could continue to explore Scotland’s heritage from home.

We also received an overwhelming response to our Coasts and Waters Heritage Fund, with 18 projects were awarded funding for activities relating to Scotland’s coastal and waterway heritage. While the projects will now continue into next year, some are adapting their activity to now focus on a virtual or digital approach.

We’re delighted that the themed year will be extended into 2021, and will give us an opportunity to encourage people to explore everything that Scotland’s spectacular coasts and waters have to offer – from discovering historic coastal sites to attending exciting events – once restrictions are eased.

Gillian Macdonald, Head of Sales and Marketing, Historic Environment Scotland

Events programme

The delivery of an exciting programme of special events is an important part of each celebratory Themed Year. The Coasts and Waters supported events programme for 2020 was unable to take place as planned, but it is currently being rescoped and reshaped in line with current government advice in relation to COVID-19 and a further announcement will be made in early 2021.

The YCW20/21 Partner Events Programme remains open for applications. This is a free, non-funded opportunity to align an event with the theme and benefit from potential inclusion in our promotional activity in celebration of the Year.

Recent examples of Partner Programme events range from online festivals including the Scottish International Storytelling Festival, Blas Festival and Galoshans Festival to art events, including Historic Environment Scotland’s Coasts exhibition and Art Walk Porty. Before COVID-19, over 100 partner programme events had registered to be part of the year.

2020/21 and beyond

Year of Coasts and Waters 20/21 celebrates and shines a spotlight on Scotland’s beautiful natural environment while promoting responsible engagement. 2020 has seen trends like wellbeing and connection with outdoors and nature gaining momentum, with visitors expressing a desire to experience countryside and coastal destinations.

Proximity to coastal environments and blue spaces has never felt so important as many of us seek out calming experiences which are shown to improve health, body and mind.

Recovery will require a national collaborative effort and Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 20/21 is well-placed to highlight the immersive and spirit-lifting experiences that you can find Only in Scotland.

The Year of Scotland’s Stories remains in plan for 2022 and we’re in the process of restarting discussions with key potential partners to define the scope of the year.

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