Borders Journeys, a small tourism business based in the Scottish Borders, has been promoting the Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway regions as travel destinations since 2012. In addition to sightseeing, owner/director Ian Walker has been inviting ancestral enthusiasts to connect with their Scottish roots and to explore their ancestry across the Borders and Dumfriesshire’s towns and countryside. With an excellent knowledge of Scotland, Ian specialises in tailor-made tours which share the beauty, history and culture of his homeland with visitors from home and abroad.
The Business Challenge
Ian was struggling to decide whether to concentrate on the specialism of ancestral tourism or to broaden his focus to encompass Scottish tourism in general. He needed a clearer strategic vision for his company and, in particular, wanted to establish if there was a large enough market to merit him spending the majority of his time focusing on ancestral tourism.
Ian contacted Interface, who put him in touch with Queen Margaret University (QMU). Dr Claire Seaman, Director of the Scottish Forum for Family Business Research at QMU said: “As specialists in tourism, QMU was delighted to get involved in this project. Small businesses can often reap the benefits of having a fresh eye on their work. With a strong track record in hospitality, tourism and family business, we were able to conduct research and look at government policy which would help Ian determine a clear future direction for the development of Borders Journeys.” Dr Seaman and Professor Joe Goldblatt, from QMU’s Division of Business, conducted research into the ancestral tourism market in Scotland, estimating the market size, and looking at the characteristics of ancestral tourism within Scotland and with the Scottish diaspora.
The three month long research project was supported through a £5,000 Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher, administered by Interface.
Ian Walker from Borders Journeys said: “The advice and support provided by the QMU academic team has been invaluable. Building on the project’s findings, Borders Journeys has built new relationships and contacts worldwide in the ancestral history and tourism market. This year, we have seen a significant increase in clients contacting us regarding ancestral research and tours.”