Scottish tourism businesses forged new networks in China when they joined Scotland’s national tourism - Photo credit VisitScotland

SCOTTISH tourism businesses forged new networks in China when they joined Scotland’s national tourism organisation for one of its biggest travel trade missions to date.

VisitScotland hosted its annual business development mission (BDM) in Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing from 17 to 23 November this year.  This was the second mission of its kind since China was made a priority market by VisitScotland last year and saw 17 Scottish businesses take part.

In recent years, China has become one of the fastest-growing outbound tourism countries in the world. This has been reflected in a 300% rise in visitor numbers to Scotland within the last ten years, according to International Passenger Survey statistics.

The business development mission gave Scottish suppliers the opportunity to engage with over 190 Chinese buyers face-to-face which will help them to shape future products for the Chinese market. The buyers also attended destination and product training delivered by VisitScotland.

The BDM was followed by the launch of VisitScotland’s first solo social media campaign in China which has been shared across Weibo (China’s version of Twitter). The campaign features a series of short videos set in Aberdeen, Glasgow and Loch Lomond, North Berwick and Moray Speyside along with the tagline “Only in Scotland does a single visit become a lifelong love affair”.

This year has already seen increased engagement in the Chinese market with 42 Chinese buyers welcomed at VisitScotland Expo in April, Scotland’s premier business to business travel trade event. VisitScotland also commissioned first-of-its-kind consumer research to discover what Chinese holidaymakers think of Scotland.

The new data reveals that 87% of Chinese visitors to Scotland say that they want to return thanks to Scotland’s “beautiful landscapes”.  As well as the scenery, holidaymakers also listed Scotland’s culture, relaxing atmosphere and family-friendliness as motivations for a return trip.

The research was conducted among travellers, aged 25 to 45 from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Within the survey, groups were former visitors and people who have never come to Scotland before.

A focus for this business development mission was Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020. Next year sees a year-long programme of events and activities shining a spotlight on these vital elements of our landscape. From our beautiful natural features including coasts, lochs and rivers to our industrial heritage such as our canals, mills and the creation of our national drink – whisky, Scotland’s Coasts and Waters have shaped our culture, our stories and our way of life and was a key part of this year’s trade mission.

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said: “We have seen a steady rise in the Chinese visitor market in Scotland. Our ongoing goal is to continue to raise awareness of our country as a destination in China, showcasing the great products we know will appeal to these visitors.

“VisitScotland has been working closely with businesses across Scotland to help them to access this key opportunity. Trade missions such as this allow the sector to engage with the market directly, to forge new networks and help them grow their business on the international stage.”

“Tourism is more than a holiday experience – it is the heartbeat of the Scottish economy and touches every community, generating income, jobs and social change.”

Chris O’Brien, Chief Executive Officer of Nevis Range Mountain Experience, said: “This was our second Business Development Mission with VisitScotland and while 2018’s trip brought a huge level of near-instant success to Nevis Range, I think that this year has been even more effective.

“There has been an even higher level of quality in the meetings. I can honestly say that every single meeting I had during the week will more than likely lead to business in the future.

“Without VisitScotland’s hard work Nevis Range would have nowhere near this level of success in China.”

VisitScotland was joined in China by:

Belmond Royal Scotsman
Crerar Hotel Group
Diageo
DU Grand Tours / David Urquhart Travel Limited
Go2Scotland
Golden Jubilee Conference Hotel
InterContinental Edinburgh The George
Johnstons of Elgin
Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel
Little’s Chauffeur Drive
LNER
Nevis Range Mountain Experience
Royal Highland Hotel
The Clydeside Distillery
The Machrie Hotel & Golf Links
The Scotsman Hotel
Visit Inverness Loch Ness