VisitScotland virtual travel trade event extends welcome to vital overseas markets

Friends explore Glen Lonan from Taynuilt, part of the Caledonia Way. Credit: Sustrans / Andy McCandlish

SCOTTISH tourism businesses engaged directly with tour operators, travel advisors and Destination Management Companies representing key global markets at an event earlier this month, to drive bookings from visitors from abroad once again. 

Discover Scotland: Reconnect 2022 is part of VisitScotland’s activity to rebuild international tourism demand, as well as supporting the country’s ambitions to be a leading destination for responsible tourism. 

In all, 324 Scottish businesses engaged with 298 international tour operators and travel agents from 21 global markets at the three-day online event earlier this month.

4,455 meetings were facilitated on the virtual platform through 1-2-1 meetings, highlighting the best of Scotland’s responsible tourism products. 

While inbound travel accounts for a fifth of all visitors to Scotland, it provides more than 40% of the overall spending.  Scotland’s key international markets according to spend pre-pandemic were USA, Germany, Australia, China and France.

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive, VisitScotland said: “Domestic visitors have been driving the recovery following the impact of COVID-19, but the return of our international visitors is a major step towards the responsible recovery of Scottish tourism.  

“Discover Scotland 2022 enables Scottish businesses to connect with key buyers from around the globe to help attract visitors, from near and far, to help rebuild Scotland’s valuable tourism industry. As well as the economic benefits of engaging with global markets, Discover Scotland was a hugely enjoyable week in terms of reconnecting with colleagues and customers from around the world. We look forward to sharing our stunning landscapes, history, culture and warm welcome with visitors this summer and beyond.” 

Nell Nelson, Owner, Edinburgh Food Safari, said: “Discover Scotland was a wonderful platform for me as a small unique tour operator in Edinburgh to be able to meet and talk – albeit remotely- to so many travel operators who were interested in my food walking classes and cookery classes. I hope I will get some bookings for 2022 and also for 2023, but it was great to make the connection.” 

Jill Chalmers, Managing Director, Glenapp Castle in Girvan, said: “It was really encouraging to see the increased level of interest in Scotland again, which is perceived as a safe and exciting destination for the pent-up demand on travel post pandemic. Good to be able to meet many more travel agents dealing specifically with the luxury sector within Scotland, as this high-net-worth traveler is an important part of Scotland’s overall tourism market and benefits all of Scotland with their high spend.”

“Here at Glenapp Castle we are delighted at the amount of confirmed business we have on our books already for 2022 from the international marketplace. The American traveler is returning to Scotland in force as are many of the European markets which is great. Also encouraging to see many of our long-haul travelers from Australia/New Zealand booking again for their travels later this year. We had a great interest on our Hebridean Sea Safari and new Penthouse Castle Apartment, The Endeavour, both of which are new and truly unique offerings to the luxury traveler to this special part of Scotland.” 

Robert Miller, Product Manager for Goway Travel, based in Canada said: “Events like Discover Scotland 2022 are critical in our industry’s recovery. It is great to discuss opportunities, operational challenges, and to learn about all the excellent and innovative ideas, activities and updates that have come about over the last two years. It has been great to reconnect with existing partners to plan and prepare for the many travelers that are quickly gearing up for their long overdue trips abroad! It’s shaping up to be a busy summer; finally!” 

Nick Landy, Supplier Relationship Manager with Brendan Vacations, whose main market is the USA said: “Discover Scotland 2022 has been timely and vital in facilitating a reconnection with our partners. The OnAir platform is great and provides easy access to supplier’s collateral, media and contact details. The sessions have been interesting and relevant the message about sustainability is loud and clear, we no longer see this as something we should be thinking about but instead we are working hard to make it our way of doing business.”

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