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Scotland's Historic Environment Vital to Economic Sustainability

11 May 2009

Scotland’s rich legacy of historic buildings, monuments and archaeology contributes more than £2.3 billion to the Scottish economy and is a key factor in ensuring sustained economic growth, according to research published today (Monday).

A new report from the Historic Environment Advisory Council for Scotland (HEACS) shows Scotland’s historic environment has a vital role in supporting jobs and promoting tourism.

Culture Minister Michael Russell welcomed the research, saying: “For the first time we have clear evidence of just how much our historic environment contributes, not only to our sense of identity and place, but also to our national economy.

“In all, it directly supports around 41,000 jobs within the conservation sector, construction industry and tourism and is estimated to contribute more than £2.3 billion to our country.  It’s contribution to the country’s sustainable economic well-being should not be underestimated and provides yet another reason to celebrate our rich historic legacy.”

The research found that the historic environment:

  • Supports more than 60,000 full time employees
  • Contributes in excess of £2.3 billion to Scotland’s GVA (gross value added)
  • Supports 20,000 employees in the construction industry and 37,000 in tourism
  • Accounts for 2.5 per cent of Scotland’s total employment.

Elizabeth Burns, Chair of HEACS, said: ‘It has long been thought that the historic environment makes a vital contribution to Scotland’s economy. Now, for the first time, we have a robust assessment of the economic value of that contribution, giving the lie to perceptions of our heritage as a barrier to growth.

“The larger message here is that further investment in the historic environment would bring even greater economic returns. Jobs related to Scotland’s rich historic environment are by definition based in Scotland, which is especially pertinent in view of the economic downturn.  A ‘virtuous circle’ of investment in, for example, the built heritage construction sector could secure more jobs, contribute to regeneration, improve the condition of Scotland’s historic buildings, thus attracting more visitors and enhancing our environment.”

The impact of these findings will be discussed at the HEACS national conference, which is being opened by the Culture Minister, Past Forward: Celebrating and Promoting Our Historic Environment, to be held at Dynamic Earth on May 20.

To read the report and to find more information on the conference visit www.heacs.org.

Notes for editors

  • Gross Value Added measures the contribution to the economy of each individual producer, industry or sector in the United Kingdom.

  • The 41,000 jobs related to the historic environment compares to 35,610 in the electronics industry, 12,380 in the chemical industry, 12,800 in textiles and 49,230 in the food and drink industry.

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament. For more information visit www.historic-scotland.gov.uk.

  • Historic Scotland is delighted to be supporting the 2009 Year of Homecoming with a series of initiatives including family trails, spectacular events and the creation of a Homecoming Pass for heritage attractions in association with other heritage organisations


For further information


Lisa Nicholson
Communications and Media Manager
Communications and Media
0131 668 8852 or 07500 065 438
lisa.nicholson@scotland.gsi.gov.uk