Another week, another two Scottish hostels for sale – this time it’s Loch Ness and Uig (on sale here and here respectively). For those of you following along at home, that brings the total tally to seven:
Put another way, of the 38 hostels currently run in-house by SYHA, a little over 18% have (so far) been quietly put on the market.
After last week’s non-announcement, I wrote to SYHA asking for further information, and got this response:
SYHA recently contacted its members to explain that a decision has been taken by the SYHA Board of Trustees to implement a new five-year Sustainable Strategy designed to shape a network of Youth Hostels for the future. This has also been discussed in detail over the past year with the SYHA Council.
As part of this Strategy a number of sites will close and be sold over the next five years. It is hoped that these properties will be sold as future SYHA Affiliate Hostels, as was achieved at Kirk Yetholm last year. All proposed closures will continue to operate as SYHA Youth Hostels until any sale takes place, which could take some considerable time.
As a not-for-profit self-funding charitable organisation, SYHA Trustees must make responsible decisions and these and any further changes to the network are necessary if we are to secure the long-term sustainability of our network for future generations.
Thank you for your concern and on-going support of SYHA Hostelling Scotland.
So it appears that SYHA members have received some kind of direct communication explaining what’s going on. For those of us who (like me) are friends and customers of SYHA, but members of a different HI association, some clue can be found in the President’s Overview to the Annual Report 2012-13:
In November 2012, the terms of the Sustainable Strategy for 2013-18 were agreed, which includes the following key strategic aims:
- Quality Experiences – enhancement of guest facilities, comfort, access and customer services
- Network Sustainability – economic, social and environmental
- Youth Programmes – Give Us a Break (GUAB) and Youth Activities Programmes
- Property Management – maintenance, capital investment, sales and acquisitions
- Partnership Collaboration – youth and education, charities and trusts, government and agencies, local communities and affiliates, commercial and corporate
- Support Resources – employees and training, technology, sales, marketing and fundraising
- Governance Enhancement – composition and succession, responsibilities and procedures.
Which sounds like a very similar set of aims to YHA’s Capital Strategy – though YHA’s tactics are a little different. It’s perhaps also worth noting one of SYHA’s “secondary strategic objectives” for the coming year:
Collaboration with local and national authorities, agencies and charities to explore prospects of establishing new Youth Hostels in Lochaber, Skye, Caithness, Orkney and the Borders.
I sincerely hope they’re able to pull that off. If they do, maybe they’ll even tell us about it?