We continue to put all our efforts into responding to the unprecedented challenges facing our industry as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19). Our goal is to ensure that tourism rebounds to become one of the most successful sectors of the Scottish economy once more. This page includes information on:
Advice and support
Our team is committed to doing whatever we can to support you at this critical time. We’re highlighting your issues and getting you answers, as well as keeping consumers up to date with information.
To help advise Scottish tourism businesses on the situation we've set up a coronavirus (COVID-19) advice section. This includes Government advice and FAQs, financial support, sharing digital content, specific event organiser support and useful signposting to other sources of support. We're also delivering a series of webinars covering topics such as what recovery will look like and digital skills.
We’ve set up a business advice team, consisting of our experienced Industry Relationship Managers and Quality & Tourism Advisors, supported by our Customer Services team, who can be reached at [email protected] to help with any questions you have about business operations or marketing.
A total of 81 membership organisations have been successful in applying for the Tourism Destination and Sector Support Fund, which we launched in May. And in July, we launched the Scottish Government £1 million Coronavirus (COVID-19) Support Scheme for Self-Catering Businesses, in partnership with the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC).
We're also proactively gathering feedback from businesses so we can support our industry associations in their efforts to secure support from government.
During the Respond and Reset phases, we paused proactive paid for marketing activity. All of our messaging reinforced staying home and staying safe, whilst still providing inspirational and engaging content to keep Scotland top of mind.
As we move through phase three, we've launched a high profile campaign (15 July) encouraging Scots to travel local to make a big difference. Read more on our phased approach to planning and activity.
Here's an example of a film we created to encourage people to share their love and memories of Scotland. In the first two weeks, it was viewed more than 1 million times.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder
VisitScotland Expo 2020 cancelled
On 12 March we made the decision to cancel this year’s VisitScotland Expo due to take place on 1 and 2 April at P&J Live in Aberdeen. As a major international event, with over 2,000 attendees from around 30 countries, Expo was on course to be a great success. Read more.
Our trade marketing teams have continued to engage with the buyers who were planning to attend, providing product information and connections to the products they are seeking for clients, and we're looking at introducing interactive guides to promote destinations and businesses that would have attended. We're also organising a virtual marketplace event – timing will depend on ability to connect.
Our contingency planning
We're continuously meeting to look at ongoing issues with coronavirus (COVID-19), managing risk as it pertains to our own staff, and ensuring that visitors and potential visitors have up to date information through our websites VisitScotland.org and VisitScotland.com.
Our own staff are now working from home in the light of latest government advice, there may be some delay with anything sent via post to the offices as we work to divert these to the relevant person. We also took the difficult decision to close our iCentres to protect both our staff and customers. Our iCentres have now started to re-open - take a look at the re-opening plans.
All staff continue to keep in touch and support our customers and stakeholders throughout this disruption. We're not delivering any Quality Assurance or business advice visits and we are not charging businesses for their Quality Assurance scheme membership this year. Sending out bills just puts more pressure on them – so we hope we’re helping in our own small way.
We continue to work closely with the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) to ensure our messages to industry are consistent and coordinated. We are liaising with our national partners for one-to-one discussion (e.g. ScotRail, CalMac and the National Trust), our (inter)national / regional partners to share intel and best practice examples (e.g. VisitFlanders, Catalonia Tourist Board and Tourism New Zealand) and international/EU tourism organisations (e.g. UNWTO and the World Travel & Tourism Council). This allows us to share and collaborate with other national tourism organisations and bodies around the globe, gives us a useful source of comparisons and shared best practice.
Liaison with the Scottish Government Tourism Team, VisitBritain and key UK industry bodies, including UK Hospitality and UKInbound is ensuring that we're in touch with developments and feeding in industry questions and responses.
Terms and conditions (cancellations) – working to understand the complex and varied cancellation and refund policies of, in particular, online booking platforms to inform Government of issues and provide some clarity and guidance to industry.
Our Regional Directors are in touch with local authorities on business support and levels of applications for grants being received by tourism businesses. Engagement includes calls with DMOs and other local tourism groups ensuring they are aware of developments and signposting to the support they are seeking. The team is also liaising with community groups to ensure we are all prepared to welcome visitors back responsibly.
Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group (STERG)
Many of you will be aware that we reactivated STERG in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. The group meets regularly, listens to industry concerns, agrees actions, communications to and from industry, and provides advice to the Cabinet Secretary, enabling a fleet of foot response at this stage in the crisis. We’re currently working on a National Action Plan. Read more.
VisitScotland.org | to help advise Scottish tourism businesses on the situation we've set up a coronavirus (COVID-19) advice section. There’s been more than 180,000 visits to COVID-specific business advice pages and news articles on VisitScotland.org.
Ecomms | we're regularly keeping in touch with around 12,000 businesses and DMOs/industry groups with useful information and advice, highlighting announcements and seeking contributions to our industry survey.
Social media | we’ve reached out to businesses via our 15 VisitScotland and Partner closed Facebook groups, via Corporate Twitter (@VisitScotNews) and via LinkedIn.
All of our communications regularly promotes advice / support and messages from partners such as STA, ASSC and the Scottish Government.
Monitoring the situation
During this unprecedented period, it's important that we keep an eye on what our competitors are doing, how the industry is reacting and the sentiment and behaviours of our target audiences. Take a look at our industry surveys and our latest market intelligence report.