Nested strategic messages and actions for the canal estate in Scotland

Scottish Canals communications strategy document
Scottish Canals comms strategy

The canal network in Scotland has been regenerated over the past 20 years to provide an enhanced environment for recreation, water-based transport and environmental protection. Since the old British Waterways organisation evolved in Scotland in 2012 to become Scottish Canals the focus within the organisation has been on reimagining the 250-year-old inland waterways from derelict and under-used industrial transport arteries into regeneration corridors for tourism and the natural environment.

Scotland's canals in numbers infographic
Scotland’s canals in numbers infographic [Scottish Canals]

The organisation has aligned its purpose to the wider Scottish Government aims for the country, and in the latest versions of the Scottish Canals Strategic Plan and Marketing & Communications Strategy documents covering the period from 2020 to 2023, the wider social, cultural and environmental purpose for the organisation and the waterway network has become much more clearly articulated.

Strategic plans can sometimes be somewhat turgid documents, and not necessarily accessible to wider audiences. This is not the case with the Scottish Canal document, moreso if read alongside the communications strategy. Whilst the focus of the organisation is on the cultural and environmental stewardship of a defined waterways and associated land estate, the opportunities for the organisation to play an important role of far wider relevance becomes evident as the management of that estate provides lessons and opportunities of what can be done with the repurposing of heritage and environmental assets and altering the perception for stakeholders and users.

The vision for the organisation has shifted to how people positively interact with the canal estate as green and blue infrastructure, and a set of thematic messages and engagements relevant to different audiences are clearly presented as nested within the requirements of the organisation which at its heart is a combined estate/asset management and stewardship function. The context for the nested messaging is completed by showing the relationship to the wider published Scottish Government ‘Purpose’ against which all publicly funded bodies align themselves.

Our vision is for Scotland’s canals to be a world-class waterway network with a thriving natural environment built upon 250 years of history that benefits communities and all users who live, work, visit and play along our canals.

Scottish Canals vision
Nested messages and engagement by Scottish Canals sit within organisational priorities and broader Government aims
Nested messages and engagement by Scottish Canals which sit within organisational priorities and broader Government aims

The follow-through of purpose to function to message is neatly presented diagrammatically, and the documents effectively provide insight and greater profile for the organisation, and as a good example of the logic and ongoing development of transparent and inclusive corporate planning for organisations in the heritage sector.

Sector knowledge: Tourism, Culture & Communication

Journal Summary: Tourism, Culture & Communication is the longest established international refereed journal that is dedicated to the cultural dimensions of tourism. It covers diverse disciplines and a wide variety of research methods relating to the tourism and hospitality domain. Tourism, Culture & Communication provides readers with multidisciplinary perspectives that consider topics and fields extending beyond national and indigenous cultures as they are traditionally understood and recognized. Coverage may extend to issues such as cultural dimensions of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), gender and tourism, managing tourists with disabilities, sport tourism, or age-specific tourism. Contributions that draw upon the communications literature to explain the tourism phenomenon are also included. Beyond the focus on culture and communications, the journal recognizes the important interrelationships with economies, society, politics, and the environment. The journal consists of main articles, major thematic reviews, position papers on theory and practice, and substantive case studies. A reports section covers specific initiatives and projects, “hot topics,” work-in-progress, and critical reviews.

Publisher: Cognizant Communication

Website: https://cognizantcommunication.com/publication/tourism-culture-communication/

Access: Subscription; some open access

Journal Type: Academic peer reviewed