eUpdate

We’re on track! Investment, employment and international passengers


The visitor economy in Scotland supports many jobs across the country and is often the cornerstone of local economies.  Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics have in fact shown that the number of people employed in the sector grew by 11% between 2014 and 2015.

 

Realising tourism’s growth potential through the planning system is an important opportunity to grasp, especially in our challenging economic climate and we are excited by the level of investment in Scotland’s tourism future.

The refreshed Tourism Development Framework
, a joint initiative between VisitScotland and our key local and national partners, has identified that Scotland’s tourism industry stands to benefit from investment of more than £16 billion over the next three years.

 

And with the International Passenger Survey showing a rise in North American visitors alongside the hard work of tourism businesses across the country, we are certainly on track to reach the industry’s Tourism Scotland 2020 target to generate economic growth.

 

Enjoy this month’s eUpdate and have a wonderful few days celebrating the Bard’s birthday.

Kind regards
Malcolm Roughead, OBE
Chief Executive, VisitScotland



Growth in tourism from North America

The quarterly (Q3 2016) International Passenger Survey (IPS) tourism statistics by the UK Office of National Statistics (ONS) have shown growth in the North American market in both visits and spend.

A favourable exchange rate has played its part, but a focus on airline capacity and connectivity – with around 90,000 extra seats on services from North America in 2016 – alongside a concentrated marketing approach, has proved a real formula for success.

The report does show a slight dip in European visits from core markets such as France and Germany, but with uncertainty over safety and security during 2016 in these countries, it is perhaps understandable. However, it is interesting to see a significant rise of 48% from our Eastern European markets.

Tourism is more than a holiday experience – it creates jobs and sustains communities in every corner of Scotland all year round. Thanks to the hard work of tourism businesses across the country, we are on track to reach the industry’s Tourism Scotland 2020 target to generate economic growth.

In 2017, VisitScotland is working hard to build on the strong foundations created by the success of the Spirit of Scotland and create and invest in more innovative projects, events and activities to inspire people all over the world to put Scotland at the top of their must-see list.

With the Rough Guide recommending Scotland as a top place to visit in 2017, and a country-wide celebration of Scotland's Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017, we are starting in a very strong place.

Q3 statistics for overseas visitors to Scotland

Quarter 3 only (July – September 2016)
Overseas visits have increased: 4.5%
Overseas spend has increased: 13.9%

Year to date (January – September 2016)
Overseas visits have increased: 3.5%
Overseas spend has increased: 11.8%

Rolling year (October 2015 – September 2016)
Overseas visits have increased: 0.3%
Overseas spend has increased: 6.3%

Read the full press release for Q3 overseas analysis.

Or view the ONS statistics.



Tracing your #ScotSpirit

Our history, heritage and archaeology is what defines Scotland for many visitors — it’s an integral and iconic part of our national brand as well as a major contributor to our economy.

Dumfriesshire-born Tour Guide and Genealogist, Ian Walker, stars in the latest Spirit of Scotland online film in which he lifts the lid on the magic and “yearning” that attracts visitors from around the world to Scotland to trace their roots.

In the film, Ian talks about visitors ‘coming home to Scotland’ and allowing them to ‘walk in the footsteps of their ancestors.’ The story starts at ScotlandsPeople Centre in Edinburgh and takes viewers to St Bride’s Kirk in the grounds of Blair Castle in Pitlochry and to the historic battle site at Culloden.

Ancestral tourism is an industry worth £101million to the Scottish economy and 2017 as the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is the ideal opportunity to delve into the past and discover more of Scotland’s fascinating stories at some of the fantastic events taking place across the country.

Take a look at our ancestral tourism toolkit for ideas on how to target this market and consider being part of the Ancestral Welcome Scheme.

Ian’s film is the latest in a series of online short documentaries produced as part of the £4.25 million Spirit of Scotland campaign which launched in February last year.

The films – which have attracted more than 65 million views – aim to capture the Spirit of Scotland through the eyes of those that live and work here and include a piper in the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, the train driver of the Jacobite Steam Train and a scallop diver on Skye. Find out more on the Spirit of Scotland.

Two new Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology have been added to our YouTube channel:
Ian’s Story
History, Heritage and Archaeology Spirit film

Themed Years are always a popular platform to unify the tourism industry and we know from the industry launch in October 2016 that many businesses are well-geared up for what lies ahead. Take a look at the industry toolkit to see how you can get involved and benefit.

The 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology themes are a perfect fit for a land such as ours, steeped in history, heritage and archaeology. Together let’s explore our country’s history, heritage and archaeology and tell our visitors about it too.



Year in review: 2016

Aberdeen & Aberdeenshire has enjoyed a successful tourism season in 2016. Regional Director, Jo Robinson, highlighted four fantastic features of the year.

Increased leisure visitors

 

 

With fewer business visitors associated with the oil and gas sector meaning accommodation availability and pricing have never been more attractive, coupled with new flight routes from North America and Europe, Aberdeen & Aberdeenshire has become even more appealing to leisure visitors.

 

Jo’s highlights include:
● Our Travel Trade and Marketing teams working hard to promote the region to European and US markets 
● The region’s values of innovation, exploration and collaboration continuing to ring true for tourism

● The launch of year-round Aberdeen–Reykjavik flights, opening up connections to Icelandair’s 16 gateways in the US.

 

Investment and initiatives

 

 

A number of new developments have been launched in 2016, meaning new businesses, new access routes and dozens of new reasons to visit. These commitments to the future success of the region will put Aberdeen & Aberdeenshire firmly on the map as a must-visit tourism destination.

 

Jo’s highlights include:
● A phenomenal amount of investment in the Granite City, including the harbour expansion at Nigg, Aberdeen Art Gallery redevelopment, the new Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC), Aberdeen International Airport expansion and the Marischal Square development
● The Aberdeen Peripheral Route starting to take shape
● The new Destination Marketing Organisation – the second-highest funded in Scotland 
● Recent news of the inaugural Great Aberdeen Run.

Capitalise on this
With so many more reasons to visit Aberdeen & Aberdeenshire, and potential visitors sourcing much of their information and inspiration on the internet, make sure your business is visible and bookable online. A free web listing on visitscotland.com is a fantastic platform for this. Find out how to claim and maximise your listing.

 

Abundant events

 

Events are a vitally important part of the local visitor economy with the ripple effect of event tourism felt in shops, hotels, restaurants and a wide variety of other businesses across the region. There were some fantastic events in 2016.

Jo’s highlights include:
● Superb performances and a real buzz at the Turriff Show
● The very impressive Quliter Cheviot Etape Royale
● Another hugely successful Portsoy Boat Festival.

 

Capitalise on this
Keep us informed of your events in 2017, and upload them to visitscotland.com for free for fantastic exposure. Promote local events on your own website and social media.

Business development

 

 

One of VisitScotland’s most important roles is to support tourism businesses and help them to be as successful and sustainable as they can be. We’re always delighted to support new attractions and accommodation provision, and to assist businesses in driving up the quality of their offering and visitor experience.

 

Jo’s highlights this year include:
● The opening, and 4-star grading, of the Peterhead Prison Museum in June. It has seen over 45,000 visitors already! 
● The development of The Sail Loft Bunkhouse in Portsoy
● Almost 50 Aberdeen & Aberdeenshire businesses signing up to the VisitScotland Information Partner (VIP) Programme

● Some brilliant examples of businesses using VisitScotland’s Quality Assurance scheme (QA) to develop their businesses and the visitor experience, including: Callater Lodge, Raemoir House Hotel and Potarch Lodge – all in Royal Deeside.

 

Capitalise on this
Find out more about the many ways VisitScotland can support your business. Go to visitscotland.org, or contact your Industry Relationship Manager, Den McFarlane.

Looking forward
This year also looks set to be a great year, with some fantastic projects on the horizon. With our world-renowned history and knowledgeable and passionate tourism industry, Aberdeen & Aberdeenshire is poised to take great advantage of Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

Now is the time to harness our #ScotSpirit and make our most successful yet. Jo and colleagues look forward to helping deliver this for the region. Here’s to 2017!



New Year’s resolution for visitor information

Start 2017 with a simple New Year’s resolution aimed at boosting both the visitor experience and visitor economy.

What?
Commit to providing quality visitor information and inspiration by joining the VisitScotland Information Partner (VIP) programme.

 

Open, at no cost, to all Quality Assured businesses, as well as community groups and social enterprises, this scheme recognises and supports businesses working to bring quality information and inspiration to visitors.

Joining is simple. It takes just three steps and is based on self-assessment.

Why?
It’s a simple resolution for your business, but with the potential to make a significant impact:

Boost the visitor economy – by joining, you can help us reach more people with more personal information so they stay longer, spend more, and create jobs.

Enhance the visitor experience – nearly half of our visitors cite talking with locals as their source of information when looking for things to see and do (Scotland Visitor Survey, 2015). Meeting and exceeding consumer demand is crucial to Scotland enhancing its reputation as a must-visit, must-return destination.

Receive support and recognition – VIPs will be given access to an online toolkit with information and resources. To promote your VIP status, your business will also be provided with collateral and your award will be promoted on your visitscotland.com listing.

Further information
Since the programme launch in June 2016, more than 740 businesses across Scotland have signed-up to the scheme. By the end of 2016, there were more than 50 participating businesses in Aberdeen & Aberdeenshire.

The VIP programme is part of VisitScotland’s iKnow Scotland programme which aims to harness the strength of local influence and market Scotland with Scotland. We are working with partners and industry to respond to the ever-changing landscape of visitor information provision.

How?
Find out more at VisitScotland.org or contact your Industry Relationship Manager - Den MacFarlane.



Battling for the stars in Deeside

Battle Grounds Adventure Activities by Banchory is now a 5-star Activity Centre following its first ever grading by VisitScotland.

 

This outdoor centre provides facilities for a range adrenaline-fuelled activities including paintballing, laser tag, archery and bubble football.

 

Home to the Scottish Paintball League, Battle Grounds Adventure Activities is the only Aberdeenshire City Council approved paintball venue and the only site in Aberdeenshire to run walk-on paintball days for regular players.

 

The activity centre was established eight years ago by a then 17-year-old Gilan Kelly. Gilan built the business from the ground up and transformed a small business into a must-visit experience and his achievements were recently recognised when he was announced as a finalist in the Grampian Awards for Business Excellence in the Spirit of Enterprise category.

 

Gilan feels this award is a wonderful recognition for the years of hard work he and the team at Battle Grounds have put in. They are thrilled to be the only 5-star adventure Activity Centre in Aberdeen & Aberdeenshire. Gilan and the team are very excited to continue with an expansion of Battle Grounds with a real focus on their customers.

 

Read the full story.

 

Quality Assurance
Find out more about VisitScotland’s world-leading Quality Assurance (QA) schemes and the developmental, promotional, reputational and financial benefits your business can gain from participating.

Your QA award instantly provides visitors with confidence in the level of service and quality you deliver. Your stars are a trusted and objective rating that visitors can consider in conjunction with user-generated reviews, reinforcing expectations and helping your business truly stand out.

Our Quality & Tourism Advisors can offer further support in addition to your star grading. Take advantage of this specialist one-to-one advice to help you make informed decisions about investing in your business to ensure it’s as sustainable, and profitable, as it possibly can be.

 

Take a look at VisitScotland.org or contact your Industry Relationship Manager - Den McFarlane.



Digital Tourism Scotland workshops

Digital Tourism Scotland is working with VisitAberdeenshire to run three digital workshops that can help you optimise your use of digital technologies to connect to new and returning visitors, and improve productivity to boost your tourism business.

Create Compelling Written Content for Digital Marketing
27 February 2017, 13.30–16.30
Holiday Inn Westhill, Aberdeen

Cost: £25

Determine the sorts of content you should be producing for social and digital media platforms to engage your visitors. Discover more about blogging, social media posts, user experience, hashtags and search optimisation – all of which contribute to the creation of compelling content.

Digital Marketing for Beginners

6 March 2017, 13.30–16.30
Holiday Inn Westhill, Aberdeen
Cost: £25

Learn the basics of marketing for the digital age. Content includes: new versus old principles of marketing, how and why your business will benefit from marketing, the basic psychology of marketing, what is content marketing, how to master social media, and key social media platforms used in tourism.

Measuring Digital Return on Investment
29 March 2017, 09.30–12.30
Tor-Na-Coille Hotel, Banchory
Cost: £25

Understand what you can learn from free analytical tools, and what you should measure on a monthly basis. Find out how these insights can help you plan future marketing activity and determine what revenue your digital activity is generating.

About Digital Tourism Scotland

Digital Tourism Scotland is a partnership of seven organisations: Business Gateway, Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Skills Development Scotland, and VisitScotland.

As well as events, Digital Tourism Scotland offers a range of resources; rich business intelligence, company case studies, guides, industry reports and comments and insights through the Knowledge Hub.



The Scottish Snowdrop Festival 2017

The very popular Scottish Snowdrop Festival is returning to some of the best gardens and woodlands all over Scotland from 28 January - 12 March 2017. 

 

A wide range of over 50 gardens throughout Scotland – all promising dazzling displays of snowdrops – are taking part in the festival this year with some of these venues opening exclusively for the festival. Participating gardens and woodlands can be entered for a small ticket price, a donation, or for free.

 

Gardens taking part in Aberdeenshire this year:

 

Bruckhills Croft

 

Bruckhills Croft is a country cottage garden with a collection of 320+ named snowdrops arranged in small groups throughout the garden. Visitors can also explore several garden rooms, seating areas, or a cuppa and a cake in the pavilion.

 

Find out more about this venue on visitscotland.com.

 

Fyvie Castle

 

Fyvie Castle is a 5-star Castle located in the heart of Aberdeenshire and is a sterling example of Scottish Baronial architecture. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll and explore the gardens, estate and discover snowdrops hidden around the woods and by the loch. The 18th-century walled garden has been redeveloped as a garden of Scottish fruits and vegetables, and this, along with the American Garden and other parkland areas is open all year.

 

Find out more about this venue on visitscotland.com.

 

Get involved

The festival has proved to be very successful, with some locations seeing as much as a 50% increase in visitor numbers during the festival period. Why not share and promote these events on your social media sites and draw visitors to your local area? Don’t forget #ScotSpirit

 

More information on the Scottish Snowdrop Festival 2017 can be found in our blog on visitscotland.com.



£271 million set for Argyll investment

Tourism in Argyll & The Isles stands to benefit from investment of over £271 million in infrastructure development projects over the next three years, a joint initiative between VisitScotland and its key local and national partners has revealed.

The updated Tourism Development Framework, first published in 2013, aims to highlight the importance of the visitor economy within the wider investment and infrastructure plans of local and national agencies.  The Framework is closely aligned to and supports the contributions of the industry-led “Tourism Scotland 2020” strategy. 

The £271 million figure for Argyll & The Isles represents overall public and private sector investment in major infrastructure projects being delivered across the region that is expected to have an impact on the visitor economy and support tourism growth. 

Key projects in the region include:

Argyll Lorn Arc (Pier, road link, airport and renewables project) - £144 million
CHORD (Campbeltown, Helensburgh, Oban, Rothesay, Dunoon) town centre regeneration - £30 million
Dunoon Waterfront including Queens Hall refurbishment - £11 million
Isle of Bute Pavilion community arts and sports hub - £11 million
Bute Estate - £8 million
Oban Bay & Harbour - £6.9 million
Helensburgh Esplanade - £6.7 million

Transport is one of the key themes of the refreshed Tourism Development Framework, with travelling around Scotland a key part of the experience for visitors.  Investment projects aimed at enhancing the customer’s transport experience are valued at over £8 billion. Major projects include:

Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Project
Queensferry Crossing
Upgrades to improve Scotland’s popular scenic routes, including the dualling of the A9 from Perth to Inverness, and routes in Dumfries & Galloway
Significant improvements to rail, ferry and airport infrastructure

VisitScotland research has found that cars are the most popular mode of transport used by domestic visitors to Scotland. On average, there were 8.2 million domestic trips to Scotland by car each year from 2006 up to 2014*. In addition, the use of trains to Scotland has increased since the economic downturn, with on average of 1.6 million domestic trips to Scotland each year up to 2014*. 

Digital investment worth £486 million is also outlined within the Framework, including plans to deliver fibre broadband access to at least 95% of premises in Scotland by the end of 2017.  And Argyll & The Isles will benefit from £146 million which is being invested in superfast broadband across all Highlands and Islands Enterprise council areas.

The Framework, which is supported by all 32 of Scotland’s  local authorities and a range of national agencies, identifies projects that are due to start or be completed over the next three years covering all aspects of the visitor experience including digital, transport, accommodation, nature, heritage, towns and cities, and events and festivals. The total amount of investment across Scotland up to 2019 is estimated to be over £16 billion.  

The Tourism Development Framework for Scotland can be downloaded at visitscotand.org.



Tourism is just the job

The number of people working in tourism in Argyll & The Isles went up by 10.3% between 2014 and 2015, according to newly analysed employment data*.

This is in line with the 10.7% increase in the number of people working in tourism across Scotland. Additionally, this is also above the 4% rise in Great Britain as a whole.

Proportionally, however, Argyll and The Isles is the region where tourism has the biggest impact on employment. The 6,500 tourism workers represent nearly a fifth (17%) of total employment in the region.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and published this month (January 2017) on visitscotland.org show that, between 2014 and 2015, the number of people employed nationally in the sector grew to 217,000**.

The 217,000 members of the Scottish tourism industry represent 9% of the country’s total employment and is the highest tourism level since Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES) records began in 2009.

Just over 53,000 people work in hotels and other accommodation nationally (up 14% to now comprise almost a quarter of the total), while 37,200 are involved in “beverage serving activities” – a sector which saw a 27% increase on 2014 figures and which now comprises 17% of the total.

You can view VisitScotland’s Tourism Employment in Scotland research paper now.

*UK Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES) first published in September 2016.

**The employment statistics referenced here use the Scottish Government’s preferred Growth Sector definition of the tourism-related industries (as opposed to the international definition of Tourism as used by the Tourism Intelligence Unit at the Office for National Statistics) for monitoring change in the sector as detailed and available in the Growth Sector Statistics Database.



Ayrshire & Arran's highlights 2016

A series of successful major events – including The Open, The Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open and The Scottish International Airshow – helped Ayrshire & Arran enhance its reputation as a first-class visitor destination during 2016 and made the year a highly successful one for tourism in the region.

Looking back on the many highlights for the industry, VisitScotland Regional Director, Annique Armstrong, reported that it was another very strong year. This was due to a range of factors, including the superb array of excellent events – repeat and new – hosted in the region during Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016.

Throughout 2016, VisitScotland continued to work closely with partners to promote the region. Our annual seasonal marketing campaigns created over 13 million opportunities to see messaging on Ayrshire & Arran.

This year looks set to be another excellent year for events across Ayrshire & Arran with an equally full calendar scheduled. There a number of new highlights, including, later this month, Burns Alicht – an entertaining celebration of the poetry and songs of our national Bard which will feature special illuminations of Burns landmarks.

VisitScotland will also be working with tourism and hospitality businesses to help them capitalise on the business development opportunities offered by the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017. Ayrshire & Arran boasts a rich abundance of assets and icons related to these themes, so we’re well placed to take full advantage of them.

With this and so much more to look forward to over the coming months, 2017 could well be the most successful year yet for tourism in the region. Download the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology industry toolkit for more opportunities.



Can you cater for Cyclists?

With cycling tourism contributing greatly to the Scottish economy, VisitScotland offers businesses the opportunity to join the accredited Cycling Welcome Scheme.

Cycling is an important growth area, with an increasing number of cycle routes being developed in Scotland and a growing number of potential guests to boost your business.

Visitors with an interest in the outdoors and a concern for the environment have been considered by VisitScotland in our development of the scheme, which recognises the special efforts made by operators to provide for them. The scheme helps these visitors to choose suitable accommodation that meets and exceeds their needs.

You can choose to become a participant of the Cyclists Welcome Scheme. To become a member, you must offer certain facilities and services such as: information on local routes, public transport and weather forecasts. You can see a checklist of the full criteria on VisitScotland.org.

Cyclists Welcome is one of a range of Welcome Schemes have developed by VisitScotland to complement the Quality Assurance scheme and to guide those visitors with a range of interests to businesses that pay particular attention to their varied needs.

The Welcome Schemes have been developed in consultation with experts in the field they represent. During development, VisitScotland worked with organisations such as the Mountaineering Club for Scotland, Scottish Cyclists Union, Scotland by the Bike and St Andrews Links Trust who have an inside knowledge of visitors’ particular needs.

To find out more about the Welcome Schemes, go to VisitScotland.org or contact your Industry Relationship Manager, Kyle Lockhart, who will be able to provide you with further information.



Spring has sprung

The Scottish Snowdrop Festival, organised by Discover Scottish Gardens, runs from 28 January to 12 March. Participating gardens and woodlands can be entered for a small ticket price, a donation, or for free, at many venues across the region.

There are two events in Ayrshire & Arran during the Scottish Snowdrop Festival. You can get involved by attending and sharing images with us by using #ScotSpirit on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

• Blair House promises a beautiful display of snowdrops in February in a landscape reminiscent of a grand 19th century park with sweeping vistas, magnificent trees and secret groves.

• Culzean Country Park promises carpets of snowdrops bordering the drive and woodland walk between the castle and the Swan pond. Other attractions include Deerpark Coastline gardens and a children’s playground. The Tearoom and gift shop are open Saturdays and Sundays, 11am – 4pm.

Find out more at visitscotland.com.

The festival has proved to be very successful, with some locations seeing as much as a 50% increase in visitor numbers during the festival period. Why not share and promote these events on your social media sites and draw visitors to your local area? Don’t forget #ScotSpirit.

More information on the Scottish Snowdrop Festival 2017 can be found in our blog on visitscotland.com.

Take advantage of a free event listing on visitscotland.com
These events are benefitting from fantastic free exposure on visitscotland.com. If you are hosting an event, you can promote it for free on visitscotland.com. Simply submit your listing online.   

 



Season review and look to 2017

The Kelpies' visit to Kirkcudbright, the successful Wigtown Book Festival, and the Tour of Britain coming to the region are some of the highlights of a busy 2016 season for tourism in Dumfries & Galloway.


We saw the launch of VisitScotland’s first ever global campaign – the Spirit of Scotland – which aims to create a social movement to help promote the country to the world. Attractions and scenery in Dumfries & Galloway have been catapulted into the global spotlight as a result of the campaign with images of Loch Ken and the Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park attracting huge amounts of engagement on our social media channels in the summer.


Doug commented that there is a lot to look forward to in the coming year. This year gets off to a great start with the Big Burns Supper and, looking ahead, we have exciting developments planned across the region including the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust and further development at Laggan Outdoor. There have also been major developments in Stranraer with the re-development of Agnew Park, which achieved a 3-star Visitor Attraction VisitScotland Quality Assurance Award.


In the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017, we will be celebrating the richness of Scotland's intriguing history, impressive cultural heritage and fascinating archaeology at exciting experiences and events. Dumfries & Galloway is a region rich in historic attractions, unique abbeys and stunning big houses, not to mention some amazing events and festivals.

A range of marketing tools have been designed to help you capitalise on the tourism opportunities created through the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology and the toolkit is available to download.



Free tourism workshop

Dumfries & Galloway Council is offering you the opportunity to attend a free tourism workshop to assess your customers' journey from browsing to booking.

‘Converting Profitable Customers’ is a new workshop developed to show you how to convert that hard-won customer into booking at a price that suits you.

The free workshop is on Tuesday 14 March at Cairndale Hotel, from 10.30am to 1.00pm.

As part of the on-going Dumfries & Galloway Growth Accelerator Programme, supporting business growth, the workshop will cover:

• The customer journey from that ‘first click’ through to getting the best price for you
• Self-assessment of the customer journey within your business
• Getting your price and costs right
• Self-assessment of your sales channels and pricing mix
• Option to book a follow-up 1:1 session at your business

To reserve your place today please contact the workshop facilitator, Alan Rankin.



Spring has sprung

The Scottish Snowdrop Festival, organised by Discover Scottish Gardens, runs from 28 January to 12 March. Participating gardens and woodlands can be entered for a small ticket price, a donation, or for free, at many venues across the region.

There are five key events in Dumfries & Galloway during the Scottish Snowdrop Festival. You can get involved by attending and sharing images with us by using #ScotSpirit on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

 

  

 

• Castle Kennedy Gardens - enjoy the beautiful swathes of snowdrops and spring bulbs on the romantic woodland walks and loch-side drives open once a year.

 

• Logan Botanic Garden - Snowdrops on Sundays - enjoy enchanting displays of snowdrops at 'Scotland's most exotic garden' as well as a number of early flowering rhododendrons and camellias.

• Brooklands, Crocketford - carpets of snowdrops can be seen in the mature woodland garden. Visits are by arrangement.

• Craichlaw, Newton Stewart - boasting a formal garden set in extensive grounds with lawns, lochs and woodland with an especially beautiful display of snowdrops.

• Barjarg Tower - these gardens have undergone a lot of development since they were last open. There is a beautiful carpet of snowdrops that appear in early spring, open from 23 to 26 February, 10am-4pm.

Find out more at visitscotland.com.

The festival has proved to be very successful, with some locations seeing as much as a 50% increase in visitor numbers during the festival period. Why not share and promote these events on your social media sites and draw visitors to your local area? Don’t forget #ScotSpirit.

More information on the Scottish Snowdrop Festival 2017 can be found in our blog on visitscotland.com.

Take advantage of a free event listing on visitscotland.com
These events are benefitting from fantastic free exposure on visitscotland.com. If you are hosting an event, you can promote it for free on visitscotland.com. Simply submit your listing online.



Dundee & Angus Tourism Conference 2017

This year’s annual tourism conference for the region explores the theme of connectivity as part of Scottish Tourism Week 2017.

We have an exciting line-up of industry speakers covering various tourism projects and activities relevant to the region, each with a common factor of working together and connecting with the visitor.

Hear from North Coast 500, a successful tourism project which brings together 500 miles of stunning coastal scenery benefitting the whole of the North Highlands.

With a strong visitor proposition and working with neighbouring areas, hear plans about how Dundee & Angus plan to collaborate and drive visitors to the east of Scotland as a destination.

VisitScotland Chief Executive – Malcolm Roughead – will talk about the tourism industry embracing new technology, innovation and new ways of working to compete in a competitive global market, looking at the customer journey in this ever changing digital age.

Digital plays a huge part within the visitor journey, so the afternoon hosts various digital topics and sessions to help businesses maximise their opportunities.

Tourism is more than a holiday experience; it creates jobs and sustains communities in every corner of Scotland all year round and is at the heart of the Scottish economy.


Find out more about the programme and book your place now.

Venue: Carnoustie Golf Hotel
Time: 9am – 2pm
Date: 21 March


This event is brought to you by Dundee City Council, Angus Council, VisitScotland and the Dundee & Angus Chamber of Commerce. This year’s conference is sponsored by Scottish Enterprise and Business Gateway.



Generating PR for Angus

VisitScotland’s Consumer PR team plays an important role in securing consistent and positive media coverage for Dundee & Angus. Working closely with travel and lifestyle media across the globe, the team provide inspiring information about what to see and do across the region. The power of positive PR cannot be underestimated.

Glamis Castle laid claim to being ‘known as the "most haunted castle in Scotland"’ in an article produced by CraveOnline, a top male lifestyle title last year.

The article, titled ‘Visiting the Ghosts of Glamis Castle: Most Haunted in Scotland’, reached over 920,000 people and was the result of a journalist visiting Angus as part of a press trip themed around the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.



Published on 31 October, the article features some striking images of the castle and an air of mystery; after all, it was Halloween. You can read the full article at craveonline.com.

Glamis Castle featured again within BILD - the biggest newspaper in Germany. This popular publication reaches over 10 million people online and over two million in print. The coverage was once again a result of a Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology themed press trip of Scotland, covering various regions including Angus.



Interested in promoting your business in the media?
Discover how easy it is to generate low-cost coverage with some simple PR tactics and maximise the opportunities available to you through VisitScotland. Read our Introduction to working with the media AdviceLink guide.

If you are a business interested in working with VisitScotland on press and consumer promotions please go to visitscotland.org to register your interest.



With love from the Borders Railway…

Hiking up nature trails in the Pentland Hills, unravelling the mystery of our history at Rosslyn Chapel, and sampling some of Scotland’s finest beers at Stewart Brewing. These are just some of the things to see and do highlighted in this year’s spring direct mail pack for Midlothian and the Borders.

Bursting with inspiration, the pack features inspiring things to see and do along the Border Railway route. It showcases places, attractions and events, and provides ideas for touring in Midlothian and the Scottish Borders.

The pack aims to encourage visitors to explore and book a visit to the region, share their stories, and discover the Spirit of Scotland whilst visiting.

Due to land on the doorstep of over 21,000 visitors this Valentine’s season, the pack, which has been developed in partnership with Midlothian Council and Scottish Borders Council, aims to share key highlights relevant at this time of year.



Pack highlights include: family fun at Midlothian Snowsports Centre, Dalkeith Country Park and Midlothian’s latest adventure park – Fort Douglas, as well as the National Mining Museum Scotland and Vogrie Country Park in Midlothian.

The pack also gives a flavour of some of the many ‘Highlight Events’ that will take place across Midlothian this spring and summer. These include: Midlothian Heritage Festival (1-7 May), Midlothian Walking Festival (11-14 August) and Midstock Festival in Dalkeith (2 September) to name a few.

Get involved
• Share your news and events with us by emailing us with ‘Midlothian in the title and /or upload your events for free.
• Tweet using #ScotSpirit to join in the conversation online and help us to create a bit of noise.
• Join VisitScotland’s online community, share your local knowledge of Midlothian and champion the region.



With love from Fife

What will you do on a tour of Fife? Wander amongst ancient ruins in St Andrews, cross a UNESCO World Heritage Site – the Forth Bridge, or walk along 117 miles of stunning coastal path? These are just some of the things to see and do highlighted in the latest spring direct mail pack for Fife.

Bursting with inspiration, the pack aims to encourage visitors to explore Fife, book a visit to the region, share their stories, and discover the Spirit of Scotland whilst visiting.

Due to land on the doorstep of over 21,000 visitors this Valentine’s season, the packs, which have been developed with Fife Council, aim to share key highlights relevant at this time of year.

With so many child-friendly activities on offer in Fife, family holidays are featured within the pack this spring. Suggestions for places to visit include: Cairnie Fruit Farm and Mega Maze, Kirkcaldy Galleries, Scottish Deer Centre and Cluny Activities to name a few.

 



Thinking of taking your dog on holiday with you? Then look no further than Fife! Fife’s dog-friendly beaches, walks and accommodation are all highlighted on the pack.

Other features include: Fife's foodie offering, which notes the abundance of local fresh produce and Farmers’ markets; and the region's reputation for world class golf, highlighting the range of golfing experiences available.

The pack also gives a flavour of some of the many ‘Highlight Events’ that will take place across Fife this spring and summer, such as: Crail Food Festival (10-11 June), Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship Knockhill (12-13 August), the RICOH Women’s British Open 2017 (3-6 August) and Pittenweem Arts Festival (5-13 August).

Get involved
• Share your news and events with us by emailing us with ‘Fife’ in the title and /or upload your events for free.
• Tweet using #ScotSpirit to join in the conversation online and help us to create a bit of noise.
• Join VisitScotland’s online community, share your local knowledge of Fife and champion the region.



Outlander tourism workshop

Did you know that 40% of visitors to the UK come here having been inspired by seeing a destination on film or television?

Screen tourism presents a fantastic opportunity for Scotland and one production in particular has been creating quite a stir...

The Outlander books and hit TV drama are captivating audiences around the world. With dramatic storylines, heroic actions and romantic interludes, combined with a bit of time travel - the series has a wide range of followers.

Outlander is set amidst stunning scenery and documents momentous occasions in our history. Scotland itself plays a lead role in this production and, with thousands of fans following the adventures of the characters in books and on screen, Scottish tourism is seeing a positive impact.




Would you like to get involved? We are inviting businesses from across Fife and West Lothian to come along to our tourism business workshop to find out how, hear about the national opportunity this creates, and network with others - some of whom are already seeing a difference in their business.

Date: 28 February 2017
Venue: Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline
Timing: 10.00am – 1.30pm

Sign up by the 17 February and secure your place, spaces for this event are limited.


Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) thumbnail image credit - Sony Pictures Television

Large image credit Craig Brown.



Edinburgh to click with Chinese visitors

Edinburgh Tourism Action Group (ETAG) has launched Scotland’s first-ever social media campaign in China to promote Edinburgh to a potential online audience of more than one billion, supported by VisitScotland.

The Edinburgh Chinese social media campaign, which received a £40,000 funding boost from VisitScotland’s Growth Fund, aims to help continue the city’s record-breaking growth in Chinese visitor numbers.

The campaign will use influential Chinese social media sites, Weibo and WeChat, to serve up tips, itineraries and promotions in Mandarin from the city’s most popular tourism businesses. It will also recommend key points of interest for Chinese travellers such as history, architecture, film locations and shopping.

Social media and digital activity on influential travel sites such as CTrip, who recently acquired Edinburgh-based Skyscanner, will also promote the destination in cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

ETAG has joined forces with 20 businesses to support the new campaign, including: Edinburgh Airport, ScotRail, Camera Obscura, the Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa, and Haggis Adventures to name a few.

China is an important and growing market for the Scottish tourism sector with Edinburgh remaining the second most popular UK destination after London. Official tourism figures reveal the total average Chinese visitor spend to Scotland exceeded £43 million over the last three years and Edinburgh Castle alone welcomed more than 160,000 Chinese visitors in 2015.

Get involved
To make sure you are up-to-date with the latest China market information, opportunities, events and training courses register for China Ready updates.

You can also access information about the China visitor market and how you can get involved at etag.org.uk

For more on the VisitScotland Growth Fund go to VisitScotland.org.



Looking back with Food from Fife

Last year saw an increase in activity from Food from Fife, which has resulted in a positive impact on food and drink businesses across the region.

A not for profit network, Food from Fife encourages food and tourism businesses from across Fife to work together. Its 47 members range from artisan food and drink producers to large-scale manufacturers, chefs and hospitality businesses to colleges and food photographers.

Activity has included a series of networking events and familiarisation (fam) trips to encourage greater collaboration between hospitality businesses and food producers. The first fam trip kicked off this month (16 January) which facilitated local kitchen and front of house staff to visit local food producers.

As part of the trip, the group visited Balgove Larder, St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese Company and Jannetta's Gelateria, who recently scooped VisitScotland's Taste Our Best award.

This activity aims to drive forward food tourism in Fife and increase the amount of local produce used across the industry.  



Food from Fife also supported funded trips for members to attend Glasgow’s BBC Good Food Show, Birmingham’s Food & Drink Expo and London’s Speciality Fine Food Show as part of Fife Council’s Learning Journeys Fund.

Business training opportunities have included free PR workshops and a specially tailored social media and food photography day.

In 2016, Food from Fife hosted various press trips and partnered with VisitScotland and Fife Council on press stunts and a bloggers conference and provided members with media opportunities.

Coverage generated for Fife has included a double-page spread in national food magazine Olive, which has a print and digital reach of 350,000 people as well as regular member recipes in Scotland-wide media outlets.

Coming up…
Activity includes working with the Dunfermline and West Fife Local Tourism Association on a showcase of Fife produce on 23 February, the opportunity to fund members exhibiting at trade and consumer shows, and continuing with the programme of familiarisation and networking events.

For more information go to foodfromfife.co.uk or for membership enquiries contact Martha Bryce at martha@foodfromfife.co.uk.

For more information about VisitScotland's Taste Our Best Scheme go to visitscotland.org.



VisitScotland’s national talk series

VisitScotland’s Business Events team invites you to discover why Scotland is the innovation capital of the world as part of new national talk series INNOVATETHENATION in St Andrews next month.

 

INNOVATEROBOTICS explores Scotland's world leading Robotics sector. It looks at the future of research and new advancements in robotic capabilities, the incredible deployment of robots to understand our marine environment, and tackles the big questions of how we can live and work together as robots and humans.

This free evening event is open to academics, industry, students and anyone with an interest in the many closely-related fields of computer science.

The event takes place on 16 February at The Fairmont Hotel, St Andrews from 6.00pm to 9.00pm.

Book today and secure your place at this free event.

INNOVATETHENATION celebrates Scotland's innovation legacy through a series of thought-provoking talks. The series will bring together Scotland's experts, influencers and the next generation of innovators to share, discuss, debate and promote Scotland's profile on the world stage.

Featuring nationwide free evening talks that celebrate Scotland’s legacy, innovation and global reputation as a knowledge economy, the talks will work to demonstrate the importance of business events. INNOVATETHENATION will search for Scotland's new ambassadors that can influence bringing international events to Scotland.

Events bring economic benefit to our local communities, profile our universities and industries, and create incredible inward investment opportunities. Business events are crucial to Scotland's future and ensure it continues to innovate the nation. Find out more at conventionscotland.com.



£3 billion set to be spent in region

The Greater Glasgow & Clyde Valley tourism industry stands to benefit from investment of over £3 billion over the next three years, a joint initiative between VisitScotland and its key local and national partners has revealed.

The updated
Tourism Development Framework, first published in 2013, aims to highlight the importance of the visitor economy within the wider investment and infrastructure plans of local and national agencies.  The Framework is closely aligned to and supports the contributions of the industry-led “Tourism Scotland 2020” strategy.

The £3 billion figure for the region represents overall public and private sector investment in major infrastructure projects being delivered across the region that is expected to have an impact on the visitor economy and support tourism growth.

Key projects in the Greater Glasgow & The Clyde Valley include:

  • Glasgow Airport Rail Link
  • Glasgow Subway Modernisation
  • Olympic-standard BMX Track for the 2018 European Championships
  • Refurbished Burrell Collection
  • Paisley Museum Refurbishment
  • Byres Road and the Lanes and Sauchiehall Street Business Improvement Districts

 

The total amount of investment, across Scotland in the next three years, is estimated to be over £16 billion. 

Transport is one of the key themes of the refreshed Framework, with travelling around Scotland a key part of the experience for visitors.  Investment projects aimed at enhancing the customer’s transport experience are valued at over £8 billion. Major projects include:

  • Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Project
  • Queensferry Crossing
  • Upgrades to improve Scotland’s popular scenic routes, including the dualling of the A9 from Perth to Inverness, and routes in Dumfries & Galloway
  • Significant improvements to rail, ferry and airport infrastructure

VisitScotland research has found that cars are the most popular mode of transport used by domestic visitors to Scotland. On average, there were 8.2 million domestic trips to Scotland by car each year from 2006 up to 2014. In addition, the use of trains to Scotland has increased since the economic downturn, with on average of 1.6 million domestic trips to Scotland each year up to 2014.

Digital investment worth £486 million is also outlined within the Framework, including plans to deliver fibre broadband access to at least 95% of premises in Scotland by the end of 2017.

The Framework, which is supported by all 32 of Scotland’s  local authorities and a range of national agencies, identifies projects that are due to start or be completed over the next three years covering all aspects of the visitor experience including digital, transport, accommodation, nature, heritage, towns and cities, and events and festivals.

The Tourism Development Framework for Scotland can be downloaded from visitscotland.org.      



Glasgow's big tourism conversation

Nearly 150 members from across Scotland’s tourism community gathered in Glasgow this month (Tuesday 17 January) for a major industry event following the launch of the city’s new Tourism and Visitor Plan to 2023.

Organised by tourism partners Glasgow Life, Scottish Enterprise and VisitScotland, the event took place at Drygate Brewery in the city’s east end. Glasgow’s Big Tourism Conversation was chaired by Amanda McMillan, Managing Director of Glasgow Airport, and featured a keynote address from Danish travel and tech expert, Emil Spangenberg; formerly Director of Digital Marketing and Communications with Visit Copenhagen.

The day also included an interactive workshop, networking opportunities and a Q&A session with a panel of leading tourism professionals, including:

  • Dr Bridget McConnell CBE, Chief Executive of Glasgow Life
  • Callum Ross, Board Member of VisitScotland, Chairman of the British Hospitality Association (BHA) Scotland and Co-Chair of Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC)
  • Emily Moore, Acting Head of Tourism Affairs at VisitBritain
  • Anne Ledgerwood, General Manager of St Enoch Centre and Chair of Glasgow’s City Centre Retail Association 
  • Simon MacQuarrie, Managing Director of digital design agency Creative Cell, which is leading the £1 million Tennent’s Story project; a joint initiative with The School of Simulation and Visualisation at The Glasgow School of Art and ZM Architecture geared at bringing the 500-year story of one of Scotland’s most iconic brands to life as a new visitor attraction opening in autumn this year.

Glasgow currently attracts just over 2 million visitors each year, spending almost £500 million. Additionally, some 20 million day visitors contribute approximately £1 billion to the local economy on an annual basis.

Launched last November, Glasgow’s Tourism and Visitor Plan to 2023 is the new framework through which the city will attract 1 million more visitors and position Glasgow as the ‘gateway to Scotland’.

The plan sets out a clear direction for continuing to build the city’s global profile as a successful tourist destination and is focused on increasing overnight leisure tourism visits by 1 million over the next seven years.

Achieving 3 million overnight visits per year by 2023 will deliver an economic boost of £771 million and contribute an additional 6,600 jobs in the city.

It will also help to achieve Scotland’s target of an additional £1 billion of visitor expenditure by 2020 and align with the aims of the Glasgow City Region City Deal; supporting the growth of the area's economy.

To deliver this ambition, Glasgow has prioritised the positioning of its cultural tourism offer in key UK and international markets which, for the first time, is centred around six core themes: heritage; contemporary art; music; Charles Rennie Mackintosh; events and the city’s capability as a world-class sporting destination.


You can read more about the new Tourism and Visitor Plan to 2023 now. 


 



Tourism is just the job

The number of people working in tourism in Greater Glasgow & The Clyde Valley went up by 11.7% between 2014 and 2015, according to newly analysed employment data*.

This is slightly ahead of the 10.7% increase in the number of people working in tourism across Scotland. Additionally, this is also above the 4% rise in Great Britain as a whole. This includes data from Glasgow City, East Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire, Inverclyde, East Dunbartonshire and North and South Lanarkshire.

Glasgow is one of the biggest tourism employers, with 30,800 (8%) people employed in the industry and had an increase of 25.5% in the five years between 2011 and 2015. Renfrewshire had an increase of 25% to 5,800 employees and East Dunbartonshire had an increase in 24.3% over the same five years.

North and South Lanarkshire are the next biggest in the area with 6,500 and 8,600 people working in tourism respectively with 11.2% and 16.3% increases over the five year period to 2015.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and published this month (January 2017) on visitscotland.org show that, between 2014 and 2015, the number of people employed nationally in the sector grew to 217,000**.

The 217,000 members of the Scottish tourism industry represent 9% of the country’s total employment and is the highest tourism level since Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES) records began in 2009.

Just over 53,000 people work in hotels and other accommodation nationally (up 14% to now comprise almost a quarter of the total), while 37,200 are involved in “beverage serving activities” – a sector which saw a 27% increase on 2014 figures and which now comprises 17% of the total.

You can view VisitScotland’s Tourism Employment in Scotland research paper now.

*UK Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES) first published in September 2016.

**The employment statistics referenced here use the Scottish Government’s preferred Growth Sector definition of the tourism-related industries (as opposed to the international definition of Tourism as used by the Tourism Intelligence Unit at the Office for National Statistics) for monitoring change in the sector as detailed and available in the Growth Sector Statistics Database.



New Year’s resolution for visitor information

Start 2017 with a simple New Year’s resolution aimed at boosting both the visitor experience and visitor economy.

What?
Commit to providing quality visitor information and inspiration by joining the VisitScotland Information Partner (VIP) programme.

 

Open, at no cost, to all Quality Assured businesses, as well as community groups and social enterprises, this scheme recognises and supports businesses working to bring quality information and inspiration to visitors.

Joining is simple. It takes just three steps and is based on self-assessment.

Why?
It’s a simple resolution for your business, but with the potential to make a significant impact:

Boost the visitor economy – by joining, you can help us reach more people with more personal information so they stay longer, spend more, and create jobs.

Enhance the visitor experience – nearly half of our visitors cite talking with locals as their source of information when looking for things to see and do (Scotland Visitor Survey, 2015). Meeting and exceeding consumer demand is crucial to Scotland enhancing its reputation as a must-visit, must-return destination.

Receive support and recognition – VIPs will be given access to an online toolkit with information and resources. To promote your VIP status, your business will also be provided with collateral and your award will be promoted on your visitscotland.com listing.

Further information
Since the programme launch in June 2016, more than 740 businesses across Scotland have signed-up to the scheme. By the end of 2016, there were 133 participating businesses in the Highlands and 17 in Moray Speyside.

The VIP programme is part of VisitScotland’s iKnow Scotland programme which aims to harness the strength of local influence and market Scotland with Scotland. We are working with partners and industry to respond to the ever-changing landscape of visitor information provision.

How?
Find out more at VisitScotland.org or contact your Industry Relationship Manager.



2016: spirited success for Moray Speyside

Moray Speyside has enjoyed a very successful tourism year in 2016. Regional Director for Moray Speyside, Jo Robinson, highlighted three fantastic features of the year.

New developments and initiatives

 

 

A number of new initiatives have been launched in 2016, aimed at putting Moray Speyside firmly on the map as a must-visit tourism destination.

 

Jo’s highlights include:
● The Snow Roads Scenic Route. Devised by the Cairngorms National Park Authority, the route will see the Cockbridge to Tomintoul road feature prominently
● Impressive work by the Malt Whisky Trail to breathe new life into the renowned route with a well-considered digital campaign that promotes the many great things to see and do along the route
● A huge amount of welcome investment in hotels in Moray Speyside – raising the bar very high
● Gearing up for 2017 – Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

Capitalise on this
With so many more reasons to visit Moray Speyside, and potential visitors sourcing much of their information and inspiration on the internet, make sure your business is visible and bookable online. A free web listing on visitscotland.com is a fantastic platform for this. Find out how to claim and maximise your listing.  

Enhanced business support

 

 

One of VisitScotland’s most important roles is to support tourism businesses and help them to be as successful and sustainable as they can be. Over 200 businesses in Moray Speyside are actively engaging with VisitScotland’s opportunities, with many more benefiting indirectly from our activity.

 

Jo’s highlights this year include:
● VisitScotland Chief Executive, Malcolm Roughead, visiting Moray Speyside; and leaving very impressed.
● Industry Relationship Manager, Cassie McEwan, organising one-to-one business surgeries with local businesses.
● Some brilliant examples of businesses using VisitScotland’s Quality Assurance scheme (QA) to develop their businesses and the visitor experience, including: Findhorn Village Hostel, Dalvey House near Forres and Morayvia near Kinloss.
● Almost 20 Moray Speyside businesses signing up to the new VisitScotland Information Partner (VIP) Programme.

Capitalise on this
Check out the VisitScotland industry toolkit for the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology and find out more about the VisitScotland Information Partner (VIP) Programme.

Contact your Industry Relationship Manager, Cassie McEwan, to find out about how we can support your business.

Abundant events

 

Events are a vitally important part of the local visitor economy with the ripple effect of event tourism felt in shops, hotels, restaurants and a wide variety of other businesses across the region. There were some fantastic events in 2016.

 

Jo’s highlights include:
● Spirit of Speyside’s inaugural, and sell-out, Distilled Festival in September.
● Findhorn Bay Arts Festival’s fantastic outcomes, with an estimated attendance of over 13,500 and brilliant new video.
● Piping Hot Forres’ continued success.

Capitalise on this
Keep us informed of your events in 2017, and upload them to visitscotland.com for free for fantastic exposure. Promote local events on your own website and social media.

Looking forward

This year also looks set to be a great year, with some fantastic projects on the horizon. With our world-renowned history and knowledgeable and passionate tourism industry, Moray Speyside is poised to take great advantage of Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

Now is the time to harness our #ScotSpirit and make our most successful yet. Jo and colleagues look forward to helping deliver this for the region. Here’s to 2017!



Bumper year for tourism in the Highlands

The Highlands have enjoyed a very successful tourism season in 2016. Scott Armstrong, Regional Partnerships Director, highlighted four fantastic features of the year:

Highland #ScotSpirit

 

 

VisitScotland’s global campaign – the Spirit of Scotland – was launched in February last year. The Highlands featured extensively throughout this activity. In addition, destination and tourism groups throughout the Highlands have been producing fantastic content and campaigns, and the Highlands have benefited from exposure in film and TV blockbusters.

 

Highlights include:
● More than 60 million views of our Spirit of Scotland short films which include the Old Man of Storr, Glenfinnan Viaduct, and Camusdarach Beach
● Dornoch becoming the only Scottish finalist in the British High Street Awards
● The region featuring in blockbusters including Stephen Spielberg’s BFG and BBC Scotland’s 'Scotland’s Wild Heart'.

Capitalise on this
Join in by sharing your #ScotSpirit on social media. There have been on average 1,000 uses of the hashtag per day since the launch. You can also share this fantastic content and news on your websites and social media. Find out more.

The rise of NC500

 

 

The North Coast 500 (NC500) is proving to be a tremendous success, capturing the imagination of visitors to Scotland and giving further opportunity to spread the economic benefits of tourism to Highland communities. Whilst we appreciate there is work to be done, particularly relating to infrastructure, there is much to celebrate.

 

This includes:
● Many businesses on the route reporting significant increases in visitors
● The total potential reach of NC500 VisitScotland promotional activity (including PR, marketing, Travel Trade exposure, direct email, and social media) reaching over 912.5 million potential visitors
● NC500 being credited as a key reason why Scotland is named the second top country to visit in 2017 by Rough Guides.

Capitalise on this
With so many visitors wanting to visit the Highlands, and sourcing information on the internet, make sure your business is visible and bookable online. A free web listing on visitscotland.com is a fantastic platform for this. Find out how to claim and maximise your listing.

Abundant events

 

 

The region saw a great range of new and returning events in 2016. A total of £459,880 was invested by VisitScotland in events involving the Highlands in 2015/16.

 

Highlights include:
● A trio of global events in Inverness, supported by EventScotland - part of VisitScotland's event directorate: World Canals Conference, Social Travel Summit and Loch Ness KnitFest
● Record attendance (almost 22,000) at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Fort William
● Flagship cycling events including Etape Loch Ness and the Tour de Ben Nevis
● The AAM Scottish Golf Open, held at Castle Stuart.

Capitalise on this
This year also looks set to be a great year, with some fantastic projects on the horizon. Keep us informed of your events in 2017, and upload them to visitscotland.com for fantastic exposure for free.

New developments and opportunities

 

 

The success of the year has given further impetus to the development of new products, services and innovations to harness new opportunities and help make the Highlands a must-visit, must-return destination going forward.

 

These include:
● Almost 120 Highlands businesses signing up to the new VisitScotland Information Partner (VIP) Programme.
● Gearing up for 2017 – Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology
● The launch of new flight routes to Inverness, including the British Airways Heathrow link and new daily flight from Inverness to Amsterdam with KLM
● The agreement and signing of the Inverness & Highland City Deal after several years of work. This will mean £315 million of funding, with £15 million allocated toward turning Inverness Castle into a visitor attraction.

Capitalise on this
Check out the VisitScotland industry toolkit for the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology and find out more about the VIP Programme. Keep your website, web listing and social media updated with new products, services and hooks.

Looking forward

With 2016 proving so popular with visitors to the Highlands and such a wide variety of things to see and do, Scott and the VisitScotland team are optimistic that tourism will continue to grow over the coming years.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank businesses and residents alike for their hard work this year welcoming people from near and far to the Highlands. Here’s to 2017!



Visitor booms: Burns, biking and blooms

A more even spread of visitors across the year can reduce pressure on communities, infrastructure and local services, and natural and built environments. It can also help with planning and managing the provision of tourism facilities, increasing business viability, and maximising the economic benefits of tourism.

There are a number of initiatives underway, supported by VisitScotland, to encourage more visitors to the Highlands and Moray Speyside in the coming month's outwith the traditional tourism season. 

Events
Events held in the shoulder months can be a key tool for addressing seasonality. VisitScotland is supporting several great events between January and March, including:

Strathpuffer24 – a legendary 24-hour mountain bike race across 21 and 22 January in Strathpeffer. With 900 competitors taking part, the 2017 ‘Puffer was the biggest, burliest and busiest yet. EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate, was delighted to support the event.

The Big Burns Stramash – a weekend of family workshops, film screenings and ceilidhs in celebration of Robert Burns, all held at Eden Court, Inverness on 21 and 22 January. The event, which continues to get bigger and better each year, was supported through the Scotland’s Winter Festivals Event Fund, managed by EventScotland.

Scottish Snowdrop Festival – This very festival is returning to over 50 of the best gardens and woodlands all over Scotland from 28 January to 12 March 2017, supported by VisitScotland. Participating Highlands and Moray Speyside venues include: Brodie Castle, 10 Pilmuir Road (Forres), Abriachan Garden Nursery and RSPB Scotland Loch Garten.

 

New videos
Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017 offers some real opportunities to attract visitors in the shoulder months as visitors keen to engage with these themes, can do so any time of year. Our research shows that visitors researching their ancestry in particular often visit outside of peak periods.

 

VisitScotland recently launched two Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology videos, including a Researching Scottish Ancestry video that features Culloden Battlefield. Watch it on YouTube.

 

Consumer channels
Throughout winter, our social media and consumer ezine teams have been enticing visitors with wintery images of the Highlands and Moray Speyside. Our '12 amazing pics of Scotland in winter' piece – featuring Torridon, Cairngorm Reindeer, Loch Tollaidh, Inverness, and Fyrish Monument – was sent to hundreds of thousands of subscribers.

 

Get involved
Promote the many things to do in the Highlands and Moray Speyside year-round. There are multiple channels, including social media (don’t forget #ScotSpirit!), Scotland’s Online Community, submitting event listings to visitscotland.com and more. 

Addressing seasonality was also a presentation topic at the Highland Tourism Conference 2016. Take a look at the slides (pdf).



Quality in the Highlands and Moray Speyside

Visitors looking for quality accommodation in the Highlands and Moray Speyside need look no further as the hard work of businesses across the region is being rewarded with high quality awards and accolades.

 

This is fantastic news as high-quality service and facilities that not only meet visitor expectations, but exceed them, are crucial to making the region a must-visit, must-return destination.

 

Laterooms.com

Laterooms.com has recently unveiled its official list of top rated hotels in the UK. Inverness has been ranked in the top 10 UK cities when it comes to quality review scores, and Nairn, Aviemore and Fort William are ranked in the top 10 locations in Scotland.

 

Two businesses in the accommodation sector are also maintaining quality in the Highlands and Moray Speyside as they achieve some of VisitScotland’s highest Quality Assurance (QA) awards.

 

Findhorn Village Hostel – This volunteer-run hostel in Findhorn, has doubled its VisitScotland star rating - going from a 2-star to a 4-star Hostel.

  

The coastal accommodation opened in 2000 and received a 2-star grading in 2014 but since then has been committed to development. A massive refurbishment to the property took place in May including an excellent new website, and improvements have also been made to the hostels booking process.

  

Justina Baltakyte, the hostel's Marketing Manager, the team and the volunteers are extremely pleased to have been given this 4-star award and are delighted to receive this recognition and see that their efforts have paid off.

 

Read the full story.

 

Crolinhe Guesthouse – This luxurious Victorian villa set on Scotland’s west coast with uninterrupted views over Loch Linhe has attained a 5-star Bed and Breakfast QA award from VisitScotland.

 

This property has three 5-star suites - the Linhe, the Nevis and the Lundy – all designed to provide guests with a unique experience and allowing them to enjoy the scenic views of the Highlands. These amazing views helped inspire Scottish author Mairi Hedderwick for her children’s books.

 

Sophie Edwards, the owner of this quality, luxury accommodation is delighted to receive a 5-star award from VisitScotland and believes this award has given them confidence in knowing they are helping to provide a truly memorable experience for all of their guests.

 

Read the full story.

 

 

Left: Regional Director, Jo Robinson, presenting Findhorn Hostel's award to Marketing Manager, Justina Baltakyte.
Right: Industry Relationship Manager, Alan Mackenzie, presenting Crolinhe Guesthouse's award to Owner, Sophie Edwards.

 

Quality Assurance
Find out more about VisitScotland’s world-leading Quality Assurance schemes and the developmental, promotional, reputational and financial benefits your business can gain from participating.

 

Your QA award instantly provides visitors with confidence in the level of service and quality you deliver. Your stars are a trusted and objective rating that visitors can consider in conjunction with user-generated reviews, reinforcing expectations and helping your business truly stand out.

Our Quality & Tourism Advisors (QTAs) can offer lots more in addition to your star grading. Take advantage of this specialist one-to-one advice to help you make informed decisions about investing in your business to ensure it’s as sustainable, and profitable, as it possibly can be.

 

Take a look at visitscotland.org or contact your Industry Relationship Manager.



£174 million set to be spent in region

The Loch Lomond & The Trossachs, Stirling & Forth Valley tourism industry stands to benefit from investment of over £174 million over the next three years, a joint initiative between VisitScotland and its key local and national partners has revealed. 

The updated Tourism Development Framework, first published in 2013, aims to highlight the importance of the visitor economy within the wider investment and infrastructure plans of local and national agencies.  The Framework is closely aligned to and supports the contributions of the industry-led “Tourism Scotland 2020” strategy. 

The £174 million figure for the region represents overall public and private sector investment in major infrastructure projects being delivered across the region that is expected to have an impact on the visitor economy and support tourism growth. 

Key projects in the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs, Stirling & Forth Valley include:

Queens Quay, West Dunbartonshire
Stirling Station Gateway Street Enhancement
National Conservation Centre, Stirling
Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway
Sauchie Tower

The total amount of investment, across Scotland in the next three years, is estimated to be over £16 billion.

Transport is one of the key themes of the refreshed Framework, with travelling around Scotland a key part of the experience for visitors.  Investment projects aimed at enhancing the customer’s transport experience are valued at over £8 billion. Major projects include: 

Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Project
Queensferry Crossing
Upgrades to improve Scotland’s popular scenic routes, including the dualling of the A9 from Perth to Inverness, and routes in Dumfries & Galloway
Significant improvements to rail, ferry and airport infrastructure

VisitScotland research has found that cars are the most popular mode of transport used by domestic visitors to Scotland. On average, there were 8.2 million domestic trips to Scotland by car each year from 2006 up to 2014. In addition, the use of trains to Scotland has increased since the economic downturn, with on average of 1.6 million domestic trips to Scotland each year up to 2014. 

Digital investment worth £486 million is also outlined within the Framework, including plans to deliver fibre broadband access to at least 95% of premises in Scotland by the end of 2017.  

The Framework, which is supported by all 32 of Scotland’s  local authorities and a range of national agencies, identifies projects that are due to start or be completed over the next three years covering all aspects of the visitor experience including digital, transport, accommodation, nature, heritage, towns and cities, and events and festivals. 

The Tourism Development Framework for Scotland can be downloaded from visitscotland.org.



Tourism is just the job

The number of people working in tourism in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs, Stirling & Forth Valley went up by 13.3% between 2014 and 2015, according to newly analysed employment data*.

This is ahead of the 10.7% increase in the number of people working in tourism across Scotland. Additionally, this is also above the 4% rise in Great Britain as a whole. This includes data from Clackmannanshire, Falkirk, Stirling and West Dunbartonshire.

Stirling is the biggest tourism employer in the area, with 5,800 (12.6%) people employed in the industry and had an increase of 28.9% in the five years between 2011 and 2015.

West Dunbartonshire had a massive increase of 41% to 3,100 employees between 2014 and 2015.

Falkirk had a 30.2% increase in the five years to 2015 with Clackmannanshire having a 19.2% increase.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and published this month (January 2017) on visitscotland.org show that, between 2014 and 2015, the number of people employed nationally in the sector grew to 217,000**.

The 217,000 members of the Scottish tourism industry represent 9% of the country’s total employment and is the highest tourism level since Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES) records began in 2009.

Just over 53,000 people work in hotels and other accommodation nationally (up 14% to now comprise almost a quarter of the total), while 37,200 are involved in “beverage serving activities” – a sector which saw a 27% increase on 2014 figures and which now comprises 17% of the total.

You can view VisitScotland’s Tourism Employment in Scotland research paper now.

*UK Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES) first published in September 2016

**The employment statistics referenced here use the Scottish Government’s preferred Growth Sector definition of the tourism-related industries (as opposed to the international definition of Tourism as used by the Tourism Intelligence Unit at the Office for National Statistics) for monitoring change in the sector as detailed and available in the Growth Sector Statistics Database.



Outlander tourism workshop

Did you know that 40% of visitors to the UK come here having been inspired by seeing a destination on film or television?

Screen tourism presents a fantastic opportunity for Scotland and one production in particular has been creating quite a stir...

The Outlander books and hit TV drama are captivating audiences around the world. With dramatic storylines, heroic actions and romantic interludes, combined with a bit of time travel - the series has a wide range of followers.

Outlander is set amidst stunning scenery and documents momentous occasions in our history. Scotland itself plays a lead role in this production and, with thousands of fans following the adventures of the characters in books and on screen, Scottish tourism is seeing a positive impact.



Would you like to get involved? We are inviting business from across Falkirk to come along to our tourism business workshop to find out how, hear about the national opportunity this creates, and network with others - some of whom are already seeing a difference in their business.

Date: 28 February 2017
Venue: Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline
Timing: 10.00am – 13.30pm


Sign up by the 17 February and secure your place, spaces for this event are limited.

Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) thumbnail image credit - Sony Pictures Television
Large image credit Craig Brown.



Meet your local producers

STEP is hosting an exciting new food and drink event for the tourism sector in Stirling that will showcase some of the fantastic food and drink producers across the area.

You will find out how local produce can add significant value to your own business as well as hearing from local producers and our award winning hosts, Venachar Lochside, will comment on how local produce has heightened their success. Connect Local, a new national advisory service, will also present on the support they can provide you.

There will be opportunity to sample some local flavours from our producers at our ‘Tasting Tables’ during lunch.

The event will take place on Tuesday 7 February from 9.30am - 1.30pm at Venachar Lochside, Callander, FK17 8HP.

You can register for the event now.

If you are already serving your customers locally sourced food and drink, why not take this opportunity to join over 1,000 Scottish businesses who participate in Taste Our Best - VisitScotland's accreditation scheme, which recognises and celebrates businesses that provide locally sourced, quality food and drink.

Food and drink is an important part of our Scottish cultural identity and heritage and is therefore a key strength in promoting Scotland as a holiday destination. Sampling traditional dishes and local produce is one of the top activities undertaken by visitors to Scotland.

VisitScotland incorporates Taste Our Best throughout its marketing activity. Take a look at our latest campaign activity to find out how we have been promoting the award.

Find out more about Taste Our Best and sign up now.



Digital tourism workshops in Forth Valley

This January a programme of practical digital support has been launched across Stirling, Falkirk and Clackmannanshire to support tourism businesses in boosting their online presence.
 
Led by Digital Tourism Scotland (DTS), the programme offers a series of hands-on workshops providing a comprehensive beginners guide to digital trends, website development, social media, online marketing and managing online visitor feedback. The programme will be launched with a free Digital Technologies Update open to all tourism businesses in the area. 
 
These courses provide essential support for businesses looking to engage with customers in new ways, identify which channels will deliver the best return for their business and how to enhance the customers’ online experience.
 
To date more than 1,000 individuals from the Scottish tourism industry have benefited from the support delivered by Digital Tourism Scotland. The digital support programme runs from the 24 January – 28 March across the Forth Valley.

Places are available now and must be booked in advance by clicking on the links below:

 
24 January – Digital Update for Tourism: Awareness Raising 
Venue: Gean House, Alloa

9 February – Upgrading or planning a new website?
Venue: STEP, Stirling
 
24 February – Digital Marketing for Beginners
Venue: Falkirk Wheel, Falkirk
 
8 March – Beginners guide to social media
Venue: ZooLab, Falkirk
 
28 March – Listening to your visitors
Venue: STEP, Stirling
 



Tourism success in Orkney

Orkney has enjoyed a very successful tourism season in 2016. Island Manager, Barbara Foulkes, highlighted four fantastic features of the year.

Visitor numbers

 

Evidence suggests that Orkney has enjoyed one of the best years for tourism in recent memory. Some great examples of this include:

● Accommodation providers, attractions and other businesses all reporting increases in business
● A very busy year for the Kirkwall VisitScotland iCentre – one of the busiest in our network
● Kirkwall recording 126 port calls and welcoming just over 100,000 visitors, making it the most popular cruise ship destination in the UK.

Capitalise on this
With so many visitors looking to come to Orkney, and sourcing information on the internet, make sure your business is visible and bookable online. A free web listing on visitscotland.com is a fantastic platform for this. Find out how to claim and maximise your listing.

Unique events

 

 

Events are a vitally important part of the local visitor economy with the ripple effect of event tourism felt in shops, hotels, restaurants and a wide variety of other businesses across the region. Orkney hosted some truly unique events in 2016. Highlights include:

● Battle of Jutland centenary commemoration events in May
● St Magnus Cathedral hosting the ceramic ‘Poppies: Weeping Window’ installation from April to June
● The special 10-day St Magnus International Festival to mark its 40th anniversary.

Capitalise on this
Keep us informed of your events in 2017, and upload them to visitscotland.com for free fantastic exposure. Don't forget to promote local events on your own website and social media too.

Embracing the year

 

 

Orkney truly embraced the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016, with themed events taking place across the year. Highlights include:
● Fashion the Future in September, part of the Orkney International Science Festival
● The Festival of Architecture’s ‘Scotstyle – Building the Century’ exhibition at The Piers Arts Centre
● The Piers Arts Centre being voted in Scotland’s top ten favourite buildings of the last 100 years
● The opening of Burray Crazy Golf – a fantastic example of innovation, architecture and design

Capitalise on this
Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design achieved some fantastic results which provide a great platform to build on for this year’s theme: History, Heritage and Archaeology – read on.

New developments and opportunities

 

We have worked closely with stakeholders and groups this year to take advantage of some key opportunities that will stand the region in great stead going forward and help make Orkney a must-visit, must-return destination.

These include:

● Promoting Orkney's starring role in Disney's BFG blockbuster
● Taking part in Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017

● Plans for the Heart of Neolithic Orkney “Glow in the ArchaeoDark” event on World Heritage Day (18 April)
● Businesses using VisitScotland’s Quality Assurance schemes to enhance their business and visitor experience
● More than 15 Orkney businesses signing up to the new VisitScotland Information Partner (VIP) Programme.

Capitalise on this
Orkney is extremely well placed to take great advantage of this year’s theme. Check out the VisitScotland industry toolkit for the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology and find out more about the VIP Programme.

 

Looking forward
With the 2016 season proving so popular with visitors to Orkney, Barbara and the VisitScotland team are optimistic that tourism will continue to grow over the coming years.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank businesses and residents alike for being fantastic ambassadors for Orkney throughout the year. Here’s to 2017!



New Year’s resolution for visitor information

Start 2017 with a simple New Year’s resolution aimed at boosting both the visitor experience and visitor economy.

What?
Commit to providing quality visitor information and inspiration by joining the VisitScotland Information Partner (VIP) programme.

Open, at no cost, to all Quality Assured businesses, as well as community groups and social enterprises, this scheme recognises and supports businesses working to bring quality information and inspiration to visitors.

Joining is simple. It takes just three steps and is based on self-assessment. 

Why?
It’s a simple resolution for your business, but with the potential to make a significant impact:

Boost the visitor economy – by joining, you can help us reach more people with more personal information so they stay longer, spend more, and create jobs.

Enhance the visitor experience – nearly half of our visitors cite talking with locals as their source of information when looking for things to see and do (Scotland Visitor Survey, 2015). Meeting and exceeding consumer demand is crucial to Scotland enhancing its reputation as a must-visit, must-return destination.

Receive support and recognition – VIPs will be given access to an online toolkit with information and resources. To promote your VIP status, your business will also be provided with collateral and your award will be promoted on your visitscotland.com listing.

Further information
Since the programme launch in June 2016, more than 740 businesses across Scotland have signed-up to the scheme. By the end of 2016, there were more than 15 participating businesses across Orkney.

The VIP programme is part of VisitScotland’s iKnow Scotland programme which aims to harness the strength of local influence and market Scotland with Scotland. We are working with partners and industry to respond to the ever-changing landscape of visitor information provision.

How?
Find out more at VisitScotland.org or contact your Industry Relationship Manager - Lee Inkster.



Harray’s Four Stars

Harray’s Little Bothy, located central to the West Mainland, provides a perfect base to explore some of Orkney's icons of the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, such as the Ring of Brodgar and Skara Brae. It recently attained a 4-star Quality Assurance (QA) award from VisitScotland.

 

The cottage, which was renovated from a traditional stone-built croft house and perched on the edge of Harray Loch on Orkney is owned and run by Heather MacInnes. Heather is delighted to have achieved the 4-star award, which she feels recognises the hard work by all involved.

 

The bothy has also recently become a VisitScotland Information Partner (VIP); this scheme was launched in June last year, and recognises the work businesses are already doing in enhancing the visitor experience and bringing the Spirit of Scotland to life.

 

The VIP programme is open to all Quality Assured businesses, community groups and social enterprises and there are now more than 15 businesses in Orkney who are part of the scheme. Discover more about how to get involved on visitscotland.org.

 

Read Harray’s Little Bothy's full success story.

 

Quality Assurance
Find out more about VisitScotland’s world-leading Quality Assurance schemes and the developmental, promotional, reputational and financial benefits your business can gain from participating.

Your QA award instantly provides visitors with confidence in the level of service and quality you deliver. Your stars are a trusted and objective rating that visitors can consider in conjunction with user-generated reviews, reinforcing expectations and helping your business truly stand out.

Our Quality & Tourism Advisors (QTAs) can offer lots more in addition to your star grading. Take advantage of this specialist one-to-one advice to help you make informed decisions about investing in your business to ensure it’s as sustainable, and profitable, as it possibly can be.

 

Take a look at visitscotland.org or contact your Industry Relationship Manager - Lee Inkster.



£17 million Outer Hebrides’ investments

The Outer Hebrides’ tourism industry stands to benefit from investment of over £17 million over the next three years, a joint initiative between VisitScotland and its key local and national partners has revealed.

The updated
Tourism Development Framework, first published in 2013, aims to highlight the importance of the visitor economy within the wider investment and infrastructure plans of local and national agencies.  The Framework is closely aligned to and supports the contributions of the industry-led “Tourism Scotland 2020” strategy.

The £17 million figure for the Outer Hebrides represents overall public and private sector investment in major infrastructure projects being delivered across the region that is expected to have an impact on the visitor economy and support tourism growth. 
Key projects in the Outer Hebrides include Lews Castle; Stornoway Inner Harbour Regeneration; Castlebay Marina Development; Museum of Outer Hebrides and the Inner Hebrides Regeneration.

The total amount of investment, across Scotland in the next three years, is estimated to be over £16 billion. 

Transport is one of the key themes of the refreshed Framework, with travelling around Scotland a key part of the experience for visitors.  Investment projects aimed at enhancing the customer’s transport experience are valued at over £8 billion. Major projects include 
Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Project; Queensferry Crossing; upgrades to improve Scotland’s popular scenic routes, including the dualling of the A9 from Perth to Inverness, and routes in Dumfries & Galloway and significant improvements to rail, ferry and airport infrastructure.

VisitScotland research has found that cars are the most popular mode of transport used by domestic visitors to Scotland. On average, there were 8.2 million domestic trips to Scotland by car each year from 2006 up to 2014*. In addition, the use of trains to Scotland has increased since the economic downturn, with on average of 1.6 million domestic trips to Scotland each year up to 2014*.

Digital investment worth £486 million is also outlined within the Framework, including plans to deliver fibre broadband access to at least 95% of premises in Scotland by the end of 2017. 

The Framework, which is supported by all 32 of Scotland’s local authorities and a range of national agencies, identifies projects that are due to start or be completed over the next three years covering all aspects of the visitor experience including digital, transport, accommodation, nature, heritage, towns and cities, and events and festivals.

The Tourism Development Framework for Scotland can be downloaded from visitscotland.org.



Tourism is just the job

The number of people working in tourism in the Outer Hebrides went up by 22% between 2014 and 2015, according to newly analysed employment data*.

This is ahead of the 10.7% increase in the number of people working in tourism across Scotland. Additionally, this is also above the 4% rise in Great Britain as a whole.

Tourism employment has also grown by 25.4% over the five years between 2011 and 2015 ahead of the national growth of 17.3%.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and published this month (January 2017) on visitscotland.org show that, between 2014 and 2015, the number of people employed in the sector grew nationally to 217,000**.

The 217,000 members of the Scottish tourism industry represent 9% of the country’s total employment and is the highest tourism level since Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES) records began in 2009.

Just over 53,000 people work in hotels and other accommodation nationally (up 14% to now comprise almost a quarter of the total), while 37,200 are involved in “beverage serving activities” – a sector which saw a 27% increase on 2014 figures and which now comprises 17% of the total.

You can view VisitScotland’s Tourism Employment in Scotland research paper now.  

*UK Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES) first published in September 2016.

**The employment statistics referenced here use the Scottish Government’s preferred Growth Sector definition of the tourism-related industries (as opposed to the international definition of Tourism as used by the Tourism Intelligence Unit at the Office for National Statistics) for monitoring change in the sector as detailed and available in the Growth Sector Statistics Database.



Invite to Perthshire Talks Tourism 2017

Perthshire Talks Tourism invites tourism businesses to join us to prepare for the year ahead, to delve into the past and share Perthshire’s fascinating stories.

From heritage sites to ancient monuments, cultural traditions to our myths, stories and legends – Scotland's Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017 will spotlight some of our greatest assets and icons as well as our hidden gems.

How well do you really know Perthshire?

This year, the Scottish Crannog Centre is celebrating its 20th Anniversary, not to mention the host of things to do as part of Perth & Kinross’ Archaeology Year 2017.

Experts from VisitScotland and Digital Tourism Scotland will be on hand throughout the day as part of our digital drop-in to provide digital support and advice. It’s important that the industry embraces new technology, innovation and new ways of working if it wants to compete in a competitive global market.

Insights are also vital to learning about our visitors and planning for the future. Did you know that Scotland’s history, heritage and archaeology are among the top reasons for visiting Scotland?

Chris Greenwood, Senior Tourism Insight Manager at VisitScotland, will bring the morning to a close by sharing valuable attractions insights including trends, technologies and strategies for the future.

Date: 22 March 2017
Venue: Birnam Arts, Perthshire
Timing: 08.30am - 12.30noon.

Have a look at the full programme and book today to secure your FREE place.

Together let’s explore Perthshire’s history, heritage and archaeology and share it with our visitors.



Free Perthshire digital sessions

We get a staggering 20 million visits to visitscotland.com each year – a huge opportunity for your business to get involved and drive visitors to your website.

This fast paced digital realm means the tourism industry needs to embrace new technology, innovation and new ways of working if it wants to compete in a competitive global market.

We are hosting digital sessions at our regional office in Perth to support your business with the following:

  • Making the most of your business web listing on visitscotland.com
  • Ensuring your business is bookable online, increasing your online business profile

These sessions will allow you to engage with VisitScotland; to ask questions, find out information relevant to your business and learn about other industry opportunities that you could be missing out on.

Our first session took place last week with two sessions in the calendar next month… don’t miss out.

These sessions form part of the Perthshire Tourism Partnership industry events calendar – the partnership is a collaboration supported by VisitScotland and Perth & Kinross Council.



Pitlochry Dam sneak preview

The highly anticipated £4 million development – Pitlochry Dam Visitor Centre – opened its doors for the first time yesterday (25 January) as part of an exclusive sneak preview for locals and supporters.

Last month, VisitScotland staff Riddell Graham, Director of Partnerships and Jim Clarkson, Regional Partnerships Director were given a sneak preview of the SSE-run construction project. They were met by Gillian O'Reilly, Head of Heritage and Lisa Daniels, Centre Manager.

The dam at the head of Loch Faskally, and its fish ladder, welcomes 500,000 people each year.

Plans for the free entry centre were well underway, with the new 60 seat café set to welcome an estimated 88,000 visitors in the first year.



The visit included a preview of the centre exhibition which delves into the unique history of hydro electricity and the people at the heart of this fascinating story. Continuing to share this story, the Visitor Centre will employ 11 permanent staff with a further six seasonal staff.

Good news, if you didn't get a chance to visit as part of the exclusive preview, you won't have long to wait as Pitlochry Dam Visitor Centre is set to open to the public on 30 January.

Tourism is more than a holiday experience; it creates jobs and sustains communities in every corner of Scotland all year round and is at the heart of the Scottish economy.



With love from the Borders Railway…

Unravelling the mystery of our history at Jedburgh Abbey, seeing ancient craft in action at Johnstons of Elgin in Hawick and breathing in the beauty of the Berwickshire Coast are just some of the things to see and do highlighted in this year’s spring direct mail pack for the Borders and Midlothian.

Bursting with inspiration, the pack features inspiring things to see and do along the Border Railway route. It showcases places, attractions and events, and provides ideas for touring in the Scottish Borders and Midlothian.

The pack aims to encourage visitors to explore and book a visit to the region, share their stories, and discover the Spirit of Scotland whilst visiting.

Due to land on the doorstep of over 21,000 visitors this Valentine’s season, the pack, which has been developed in partnership with Scottish Borders Council and Midlothian Council, aims to share key highlights relevant at this time of year.  

 

Pack highlights also include: family fun at Go Ape, Peebles, the spectacle of the Borders Common Ridings and marvelling at the magnificent ruins of Melrose Abbey.

Get involved

• Share news and events with us by emailing with ‘Scottish Borders' in the title and / or upload your events for free.
• Tweet using #ScotSpirit to join in the conversation online and help us to create a bit of noise.
• Join VisitScotland’s online community, share your local knowledge of the Scottish Borders and champion the region.



Four stars for Borders mansion house

A self-catering apartment set within the grounds of an historic Borders mansion house has received a 4-star Quality Assurance (QA) Award from VisitScotland.

The holiday accommodation at The Haining, Selkirk was upgraded to meet the coveted grading following a recent assessment visit by a Quality & Tourism Advisor. It had previously held a 3-star award.

 

The first-floor accommodation, which forms part of a recently converted block of the historic mansion house, enjoys stunning views over the Haining Loch. Guests staying at the two-bedroom apartment can enjoy all the benefits of the private setting within the woodland estate, whilst Selkirk town centre is only a short walk away.

 

The Haining House and Estate was left to the people of Selkirkshire and the wider public in 2009 by Andrew Nimmo-Smith, a prominent Edinburgh lawyer. It is now managed by The Haining Charitable Trust and has undergone major development, with more planned to develop the facility into an important arts and cultural venue with the grounds open for all to enjoy.

Doug Wilson, VisitScotland Regional Director, congratulated The Haining on receiving this well-deserved award which is a welcome boost to the business as well as the region as a whole.

Developed and improved for more than 30 years, VisitScotland's QA scheme is a tourism industry world-leader, providing a trusted, independent and impartial source of information for visitors.

For more information on the VisitScotland Quality Assurance Scheme, visit visitscotland.org 



Spring has sprung

The Scottish Snowdrop Festival, organised by Discover Scottish Gardens, runs from 28 January to 12 March. Participating gardens and woodlands can be entered for a small ticket price, a donation, or for free, at many venues across the region.

There are four events in the Scottish Borders as part of the Scottish Snowdrop Festival. You can get involved by attending and sharing images with us by using #ScotSpirit on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.


Visit Cringletie House, just outside Peebles, to enjoy a walk around the enchanting grounds of the house from 28 January to 12 March. The restaurant offers tempting meals and snowdrop scones for afterwards too. What’s more, if you find all the fairies in the garden you’ll win a free lunch or tea!


Also taking part is Dawyck Botanic Garden where, from 1 February to 15 March, you can head to this stunning garden and see gleaming snowdrops set against the enchanting backdrop of the shimmering Scrape Burn. You can also enjoy a guided tour with an expert every Sunday in February and March.

Kailzie Gardens is a semi-formal walled garden joining in the festival. It offers shrubs and herbaceous borders, a rose garden and excellent display of plants in large Victorian greenhouses, and it promises an excellent display of snowdrops.

Visitors can also go to the magnificent ruins of Dryburgh Abbey to see their snowdrops and wander around the Abbey on the banks of the Tweed.

Find out more at visitscotland.com.

The festival has proved to be very successful, with some locations seeing as much as a 50% increase in visitor numbers during the festival period. Why not share and promote these events on your social media sites and draw visitors to your local area? Don’t forget #ScotSpirit.

More information on the Scottish Snowdrop Festival 2017 can be found in our blog on visitscotland.com.

Take advantage of a free event listing on visitscotland.com
These events are benefitting from fantastic free exposure on visitscotland.com. If you are hosting an event, you can promote it for free on visitscotland.com. Simply submit your listing online.

 



Tourism conference tickets on sale

Collaboration & Connectivity: Moving the Scottish Borders Forward is the theme for The Scottish Borders Tourism Partnership Conference 2017.

This year’s conference will take place at The Tower Mill, Hawick between 9.30am and 4.00pm on Thursday 23 March. It will look at how collaboration amongst any business that has a stake in tourism is fundamental to the future growth of the region's tourism industry.

 
 

 

As our industry is evolving, speakers will be looking at how we better connect with guests: from offering them a world-class experience, through to how we find them and talk to them via new digital and social channels.

The day will also provide food for thought for how local tourism businesses can effectively embrace the themes of collaboration and connectivity as well as looking as Scotland's Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017.

There will be a number of short presentations during the day and a full list of speakers will be available shortly. These will include:

Charlie Smith - Director of Marketing at VisitScotland
Marc Crothall - Chief Executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance
Fiona Drane - Director of Bright Light Marketing
Robert Kennedy - Managing Director at SuperControl

Gliles Ingram (Abbotsford) and Fergus Watson (Business Gateway, and Project Manager Midlothian and Borders Tourism Action Group) will explain how the new Tourism Destination Fund can benefit all businesses across the whole of the Borders.

Spaces are limited and tickets are priced at £25.00. Book today to avoid disappointment.

In addition, there will be a trade suppliers village. The cost for taking a trade space is £30. Spaces can be booked by emailing Carol.



Cruising to tourism success in Shetland

Shetland has enjoyed a very successful tourism season in 2016, including double the number of visiting cruise ships, and over a third more visitors to the Lerwick iCentre. Island Manager for Shetland, Steve Mathieson, highlighted four fantastic features of the year:

Increased leisure visitor numbers 

 

With fewer business visitors associated with the oil and gas sector, there have been more seats on planes and spaces in ferry cabins for leisure visitors in 2016.

 

Highlights include:
● Accommodation providers, boat trip operators and tour guides all experiencing a busy season  
● The Scottish Natural Heritage-run island of Noss having its busiest year since 1992!
● Cruise ship numbers doubling to just under 80
● The arrival of ‘Celebrity Silhouette’ – the biggest cruise liner to ever visit Lerwick
● The Lerwick iCentre experiencing a 37% increase in visitor numbers this year

Capitalise on this
With so many visitors looking to come to Shetland, and sourcing information from the internet, make sure your business is visible and bookable online. A free web listing on visitscotland.com is a fantastic platform for this: the site delivered more than 33,100 referrals to Shetland businesses in 2015/16. Find out how to claim and maximise your listing.

Abundant events 

 

As is tradition in Shetland, 2016 began with spectacular fire festivals throughout the islands between January and March. These set the scene for a fantastic portfolio of internationally-popular events throughout the year, with many seeing their best year to date.

 

Highlights include: 
● Shetland Wool Week attracting over 600 visitors from outwith Shetland, with further expansion on the cards for 2017
● Shetland Food Fair seeing a doubling in attendance

● Shetland Craft Fair seeing the number of exhibitors rise to 115 and attracted visitors to around 4,500

● Two brand new festivals: Shetland Boat Week and FestiYell
● The return of some fantastic well-established events.

Capitalise on this
Keep us informed of your events in 2017, and upload them to visitscotland.com for free for fantastic exposure. Don't forget to promote local events on your own website and social media too. 

World-class wildlife watching 

 

Unusually mild weather and a bumper year for migrating wildlife led to a greater number of wildlife watchers arriving on Shetland, and an increase in social media profile.

 

Highlights include:
● The huge number of Orca sightings throughout the summer
● A bumper year for visits from rare migrating birds, including a first sighting in Britain of the Siberian Accentor
● Fair Isle being awarded Marine Protection Area status, with an opportunity to develop eco-tourism.

Capitalise on this
Highlight these opportunities on your own website and social media as they can be a real draw - there are more than a million wildlife trips a year to or within Scotland. Photos and videos are especially powerful.  

New developments and opportunities 

 

The success of the year has given further impetus to the development of new products, services and innovations to harness new opportunities and help make Shetland a must-visit, must-return destination going forward.

 

Developments include: 
● Gearing up for 2017 – Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology

● A huge Viking celebration festival - ‘Follow the Vikings’ - planned for next September in Lerwick and Unst
● The announcement from Loganair about expanding its flights at Sumburgh 
● Specialist tours developed for 'set-jetters' off the back of the Scottish BAFTA-winning BBC drama series ‘Shetland’
● Almost a dozen Shetland businesses signing up to the new VisitScotland Information Partner (VIP) Programme

Capitalise on this
Check out the VisitScotland industry toolkit for the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology and find out more about the VisitScotland Information Partner (VIP) Programme. Keep your website, web listing and social media updated with new products, services and hooks. 

Looking forward

With the 2016 season proving so popular with visitors to Shetland and such a wide variety of things to see and do – including events, food and drink, breathtaking scenery and wildlife – Steve and the VisitScotland team are optimistic that tourism will continue to grow over the coming years.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank businesses and residents alike for their hard work this year welcoming people from near and far to Shetland. Here’s to 2017! 



New Year’s resolution for visitor information

Start 2017 with a simple New Year’s resolution aimed at boosting both the visitor experience and visitor economy.

What?
Commit to providing quality visitor information and inspiration by joining the VisitScotland Information Partner (VIP) programme.

Open, at no cost, to all Quality Assured businesses, as well as community groups and social enterprises, this scheme recognises and supports businesses working to bring quality information and inspiration to visitors.

Joining is simple. It takes just three steps and is based on self-assessment. 

Why?
It’s a simple resolution for your business, but with the potential to make a significant impact:

Boost the visitor economy – by joining, you can help us reach more people with more personal information so they stay longer, spend more, and create jobs.

Enhance the visitor experience – nearly half of our visitors cite talking with locals as their source of information when looking for things to see and do (Scotland Visitor Survey, 2015). Meeting and exceeding consumer demand is crucial to Scotland enhancing its reputation as a must-visit, must-return destination.

Receive support and recognition – VIPs will be given access to an online toolkit with information and resources. To promote your VIP status, your business will also be provided with collateral and your award will be promoted on your visitscotland.com listing.

Further information
Since the programme launch in June 2016, more than 740 businesses across Scotland have signed-up to the scheme. By the end of 2016, there were 11 participating businesses across Shetland.

The VIP programme is part of VisitScotland’s iKnow Scotland programme which aims to harness the strength of local influence and market Scotland with Scotland. We are working with partners and industry to respond to the ever-changing landscape of visitor information provision.

How?
Find out more at VisitScotland.org.



Events and workshops to be part of…

Have you booked your place at one of the excellent events coming up for the tourism industry? There are a variety of workshops, full day / half day and evening events covering cyber resilience, Scottish Tourism Week – the Future Beyond 2020, a tourism symposium, and our very own Scottish Thistle Awards final – have you got your ticket yet?

Cyber resilience
Digital Scotland is running sessions designed to take businesses through why cyber resilience is important and begin to explore the practical steps a business can take to become cyber resilient. This is based on the cyber resilience toolkit.

7 February at the Trade Halls, Glasgow
9 February at the Carlton Hilton, Edinburgh
21 February at the Malmaison, Dundee

Celebrate success at the Scottish Thistle Awards National Final
Don’t miss your chance to be part of the 2016/17 Scottish Thistle Awards National Final. Book your tickets and join the best of the best in the Scottish tourism industry. Don’t miss this opportunity to network with the finalists and support your region, as the regional winners of each category battle it out for the ultimate accolade of National Winner.

Edinburgh International Conference Centre | Thursday 16 March. Table deals available via the Scottish Thistle Awards website.

Scottish Tourism Week: The Future Beyond 2020
This year’s Scottish Tourism Week has been built around the theme ‘The Future Beyond 2020’. One of Scottish Tourism Week's key events is the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) Signature Conference, which this year will be held at the Crowne Plaza in Glasgow on Wednesday 15 March.

The conference programme is the most ambitious and diverse to date and will take delegates on a journey into what the future looks like for all aspects of tourism – the economic outlook, the future of the tourism workplace, creating and delivering the future customer journey and leading in a changing future. Find out more.

Tourism Symposium 2017 - Heritage and Innovation: the future of tourism
With a wealth of quality venues and high profile events coming to Edinburgh, this is a wonderful opportunity for the city to host a memorable 2017 Tourism Symposium.

The two-day event will consist of a selection of study tours exploring Edinburgh's 250-year-old New Town and up-to-date festival venues and sites, along with the opportunity to travel to Glasgow, an informal networking supper evening, and a full day of discussion and debate in a fantastic central Edinburgh venue. Early Bird tickets available until end of February 2017. Join the conversation: #ts2017.



Opportunities for your business

VisitScotland's marketing teams can help support your business through a number of free opportunities that help us to share the Spirit of Scotland together.

VisitScotland's content marketing team create and curate inspirational images, videos and information about Scotland to share our Spirit with the world. You can help by adding to this and promoting your business by emailing any information regarding new products, events and news to content@visitscotland.com with the name of the region your business is based in, in the subject line. (Please note this is a new email address.)

VisitScotland also works with partners year-round to target consumers through prize draw promotions and encourages international travel trade and consumer journalists to promote Scotland via press trips.

We are keen to create a community of businesses who would be interested in working with us to provide complimentary stays, visits and activities. Get involved now.

If you are planning an event or festival in your area you can take advantage of the additional exposure an event listing on visitscotland.com can bring you by submitting your events for free now.

By curating and distributing the stories of all those who love our country – not just those who live in Scotland, but those around the world who know and cherish it — we’re spreading the word about all that Scotland has to offer, giving new visitors the chance to fall in love with this extraordinary country. 

 



FSB guide to rates revaluation

This year's rates revaluation will affect many Scottish firms and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has produced a handy booklet outlining:

  • What are business rates?
  • How are business rates calculated?
  • 2017 revaluation
  • How will you be affected by the revaluation?
  • Scottish Government rates reliefs
  • What to do if you think you’ve been valued incorrectly
  • Where to get further help

Take a look at the guide now.

The FSB is an expert in business and offers members a wide range of vital business services including advice, financial expertise, support and a powerful voice in government. Its aim is to help smaller businesses achieve their ambitions. Get more information from its website.



Quick winter health check

During winter, when the days are colder and darker, your heating and lighting is put to maximum use. Even small problems with equipment and staff behaviour can lead to needlessly high energy bills and impact you and your staff’s comfort and productivity.

Find out if your business is ready for the remainder of winter with Resource Efficient Scotland’s quick 12-point checklist.
 
Download the FREE checklist.

Resource Efficient Scotland is a programme of Zero Waste Scotland, funded by Scottish Government and the European Regional Development Fund.

It provides free, specialist advice, access to funding and suppliers, and in-person on-site support to help small to medium sized Scottish businesses cut their energy, water and raw material costs. Read more.

On average, the free audits identify £18,000 of annual savings and over 85% of enterprises who have had this support would recommend it to others. By using resources more efficiently, Scottish organisations could save £2.9 billion every year.

For all the latest updates from Resource Efficient Scotland:

Follow them on Twitter 
Follow them on LinkedIn
Register for a free e-newsletter

VisitScotland's Sustainable Tourism Resource Centre is aimed at tourism businesses who wish to know more about Sustainable Tourism and how to become sustainable in their business practices in order to benefit their business in a variety of ways such as increasing efficiency thus reducing running costs. Take a look now.





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