Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, VisitScotland has worked hard to ensure Scotland remains front of mind with international visitors, so we are top of their ‘must visit’ list whenever travel is possible for them. 

In spite of green shoots of recovery in some sectors during this year’s summer season, if the industry is to fully recover we need to see the return of our high-spending international visitors.

Our pre-pandemic figures (International Passenger Survey) confirm the high value of international markets, with visitors from the US spending on average four times that of the UK visitor and twice as much as an EU visitor. There are further opportunities too; if harnessed correctly, the pent-up demand for international travel offers strong potential for new and returning visitors to Scotland.

We recently launched an International Demand Building programme which seeks to capitalise on this and support the recovery of Scotland’s tourism industry by encouraging forward bookings for late 2021 through 2022 and beyond – delivering sustainable long-term growth. The programme sees £8m of Scottish Government funding divided between £6.5m for paid marketing campaign activity and a £1.5m fund for inbound operator collaborative marketing.

A new global campaign is running in our key markets within the EU, North America, China, UAE and in the future, Australia and India, with the creative theme of Scotland is Calling – playing on the emotional pull of Scotland, with responsible tourism integral to the campaign.

The campaign features always on ‘drumbeat’ digital and social activity to carefully targeted prospective visitors in key markets to ensure Scotland is front of mind during October to March. Later, to grab attention and convert interest to bookings, we’ll run high impact media and PR activity through in market partners during January – March 2022.

Whilst travel restrictions remain in force for many destinations worldwide, international visitors spend longer planning and researching their travel plans, which the campaign will aim to capitalise on. We need to be responsive to any changes in Government guidance, to capitalise on opportunities or pause activity if necessary.

Complementing our campaign activity, we’ve launched a fund to encourage Scottish based Destination Management Companies and tour operators to promote responsible tourism itineraries – either working in partnership with in-market tour operators or selling direct to consumers. This will fund marketing activity to generate confidence that responsible tourism itineraries will sell as people return to international travel. We want inbound tour operators to help develop a regional and seasonal spread of visitors, ensuring that tourism is a force for good across the whole of Scotland.

As ever, working in partnership, with the tourism industry, in-market operators and stakeholders will strengthen Scotland’s voice abroad. By keeping Scotland front of mind and encouraging future visitors from our key international markets, we want to make Scotland a destination of choice, generating high value, responsible visitors who can boost recovery for businesses and communities throughout the country.