By Lucy Ashton
HOSTELING Scotland (Scottish Youth Hostels Association), today (13 February 2021), celebrates its 90th birthday.
To mark this major milestone, the self-funded charity is introducing all babies born in the month of February 2021 to the wonderful world of hosteling by offering them a free lifetime membership (worth £150).
Since 1931, the organisation’s mission has been to make more of Scotland more accessible to more people, especially young people, which is as relevant today as it was then.
The new, young lifetime members can look forward to a future of travel with friends and family, staying in great value, affordable, flexible and welcoming hostel accommodation in some of the best locations throughout Scotland.
Margo Paterson, CEO of Hosteling Scotland, said: “As we reflect on our most challenging year since 1931 and celebrate being 90 years young, we are determined that 2021 will be a year of positivity and hope, celebrating our hosteling family’s past, present and future.
“Hosteling Scotland is delighted to enable a new generation of hosteller to experience travel and adventure across this beautiful country of ours, exploring new places, making memories and friendships to last a lifetime.
“Any child born in February 2021 is eligible for a free lifetime membership, which includes loads of additional member benefits. All you have to do is sign them up on our website before the 31 March 2021.”
Like the young hostelers of the 1930’s, the new lifetime members (and their families) will have the freedom to learn about Scotland visiting places of historic and cultural interest and explore its stunning countryside, environment and natural heritage.
They will be able to take advantage of the many additional benefits, from retail and visitor attraction discounts to exclusive member promotions. When the world opens up again, they will also have access to more than 4,000 hostels in many countries around the world with dual membership of Hosteling International.
Hosteling Scotland prides itself on being the largest participant in the youth hostel market in Scotland. As a membership organisation with over 8,000 lifetime members, it has 33 youth hostels and 27 affiliate hostels. In recent years the network has welcomed up to 380,000 guests annually with a turnover of £9m and an estimated annual contribution to the Scottish visitor economy of £25m.
One of the most popular hostels is at Rowardennan on Loch Lomondside at the foot of Ben Lomond. Picture by Bill Heaney
The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the organisation incredibly hard, the worst crisis it has faced since it was established in 1931.
An 89 per cent drop in annual operational income has resulted in a massive swing, from a £1.4m operational surplus in 2019 to a £2m operational loss in 2020.
Margo Paterson added: “2020 has been the most challenging year in the organisation’s history but we feel confident there is light at the end of the tunnel. We are delighted and thankful for all the messages of support and as we recover from this crisis; we look forward to welcoming our guests to our youth hostels once again when the time is right and it is safe to do so.”