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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Youth hostels are modern, cosy and sociable says new campaign

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Scottish Youth Hostel Association's newest membership campaign aims to dispel old-fashioned perceptions of its 60 hostels

A new campaign aims to persuade more young people to become members of the Scottish Youth Hostel Association (SYHA).

The organisation, which had a turnover of last year of over £8m, has said investment in its infrastructure over the last 10 years means its 60 centres around Scotland are far more modern and comfortable that people realise.

Keith Legge, SYHA says the voluntary organisation that has been providing low-cost hostel accommodation for over 80 years, is hoping to attract 400,000 visitors next year.

We are not changing our ethos of camaraderie and bringing people together in common spaces, but we are making things more comfortable

He said: “Things have been changing for a number of years, yet the perception remains that we’re stuck in the past.

“There has been a massive investment and reorganisation during the past 10 years and we are responding to what our guests are looking for.”

The organisation’s iconic Carbisdale Castle property was put back on the market earlier this year for £900,000 after a 2014 offer to buy it for £1.2 million fell through.

It was sold in September to FCFM Group Ltd who stated they intend to make it "a world-class private residence".

As well as the cash from the sale, SYHA also raised £1 million from the sale of 17 marble sculptures and 36 19th century paintings.

Legge said despite investing in the creation of more private rooms in its property portfolio the youth hostel ethos of common space and shared experience remains at the heart of what it does.

“We know that 70% of our guests want their own rooms, and that is what we’re giving them.

“The shared spaces in the hostels, like the common room and the kitchen remain. We are not changing our ethos of camaraderie and bringing people together in common spaces, but we are making things more comfortable”.

Over 60% of SYHA guests are under 25s and core customers include school groups and parties of foreign students, hikers and university groups.

“Most of our guests are not looking for fluffy towels and fitted luxuries,” said Legge. “They are looking for smart, modern facilities they can use as a base from which to explore.”

The new campaign has been created with support from digital design students at Glasgow Caledonian University.