Organisation History


A brief history of VisitScotland since its establishment in 1969.


November 2008

Ownership of transferred solely to VisitScotland.


September 2008

VisitScotland achieved Hospitality Assured Accreditation for the first time. In doing so it became the first UK national tourism organisation to achieve accreditation.


1 April 2008

As set out in the Scottish Government's September 2007 ministerial announcement, VisitScotland reorganised its local activities around six regions (aligned to Highland and Islands Enterprise and Scottish Enterprise regions) and three island areas.


1 April 2005

The new VisitScotland network came into being. It consists of one single national tourism network with 14 area offices, each functioning as:
  • a single point of contact for tourism businesses.
  • acting as one team for tourism, the network is responsible for the delivery and implementation of a national strategy complemented by local tourism action plans.

To create this new integrated network with minimal disruption to the tourism industry and ATB staff, transitional arrangements were put in place to allow the new network to be established by April 2005.


The new network required changes to legislation:

  • two Scottish Statutory Instruments were passed in 2004, creating two Network Boards which are fully responsible and accountable to VisitScotland.
  • primary legislation, namely the Tourism (Scotland) Bill, was laid before Parliament in March 2006

This change formally creates VisitScotland as a single entity and and changes the legal name of Scottish Tourist Board to VisitScotland.



A period of consultation was initiated on whether changes required to be made to the Area Tourist Boards (ATBs). There were at that time 14 ATBs which had been established in 1996 by the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1994. They were each constituted as a statutory body and provided the focus for tourism activity at the local level. They were responsible for:


  • providing customer information services (primarily though Tourist Information Centres)
  • marketing the local area
  • enlisting the support of the local commercial tourism sector and providing opportunities for local trade partners through membership development
  • developing and implementing Area Tourism Strategies.

They brought together the public and private sector at a local level and provided a link between tourism interest at a national area level.


After a period of consultation, Ministers concluded that, in order to compete in an increasingly competitive market, Scotland would be best served by replacing the 14 ATBs with an integrated VisitScotland network.



The Scottish Tourist Board began trading as VisitScotland.


A review of the Scottish Tourist Board led to a reorganisation of tourism structures through a reallocation of responsibilities among the various public bodies and public sector agencies involved in Scottish tourism. This removed the responsibility from the Scottish Tourist Board to provide financial assistance for tourism projects and passed this to Scottish Enterprise and Highlands & Islands Enterprise and the Local Enterprise Companies.

In an exchange of responsibilities, the Scottish Tourist Board assumed the Enterprise Network’s responsibility for the marketing and co-ordinating of Area Tourist Board activities and the marketing of Scotland as a whole.



The Tourism (Overseas Promotion) (Scotland) Act 1984 provided the authority for the Board to market Scotland overseas.



The Scottish Tourist Board was established under the Development of Tourism Act 1969. The Board’s principal functions under the 1969 Act were to encourage British people to take holidays in Scotland, to encourage the provision and improvement of tourist facilities and amenities in Scotland, and to advise Government and public bodies on matters relating to tourism in Scotland.
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