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Visit Scotland | Alba
  • 1969

    25 July

    A voluntary Scottish Tourist Board (STB) was set up in 1946 and consisted of representatives of the main organisations in Scotland with an interest in tourism, together with four people appointed by the Secretary of State. This STB had no statutory powers and was based in a former church in Rutland Place.

    A recognition of the importance of tourism to the UK economy resulted in The Development of Tourism Act (1969), which came into force on 25 July 1969.

    The STB’s remit was:

    • To promote or undertake publicity in any form
    • To provide advisory and information services
    • To promote and undertake research
    • To establish committees to advise the Board in the performance of its functions
    • To contribute to or reimburse expenditure incurred by any other person or organisation in carrying on any activity which the Board has power to carry on
  • 1969

    In September, Sir Hector MacLennan (pictured middle) was appointed as Chairman of the STB on a salary of £3,000 per year. He was an eminent gynaecologist.

     Chairman Sir Hector MacLennan (middle)
  • 1970

    Lester Borley (pictured left) was appointed the first Chief Executive of the Scottish Tourist Board (STB) from 1 January 1970 –1975.

     Chief Executive Lester Borley (left)
  • 1970

    Seven Regional Tourist Associations were proposed; to co-operate with the STB in the interest of promoting and developing Scottish tourism and, specifically in their own area, to provide information services for visitors. They were:

    1. Highlands and Islands
    2. North East
    3. East Central
    4. West
    5. Edinburgh and Lothians
    6. Borders
    7. South West
  • 1970

    STB’s first limited UK advertising scheme took place. It featured off-season travel ideas and appeared in January, February and March in magazines “chosen for the effectiveness of their circulation”.

  • 1970

    The 1970 Commonwealth Games was held in Edinburgh from 16 - 25 July. This was the first time metric units rather than imperial units were used in all events and was the first time the Games were held in Scotland.

  • 1970

    The first international tourism figures for Scotland were released:
     

    Trips Nights Spend
    0.62 million 8.5 million £262 million

     

  • 1972

    In March, April and May the A Taste of Scotland pilot scheme was developed to promote Scottish food, drink, products, events and attractions. A publication was produced to accompany this. Promotion was mainly via travel trade and PR to 21 cities across the US.

     Grand WEST platter being prepared at West Brewery, Bar and Restaurant in Glasgow

    Credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

  • 1972

    In May the first Regional Information Centre was opened at Whitesands in Dumfries.

  • 1972

    The STB main campaign ‘A World of Difference’ was launched – this would continue until 1977.

     Scotland - A World of a Difference national brochure
  • 1972

    The Book a Bed Ahead scheme (BABA) was piloted and extended in 1974.

     Book a Bed Ahead scheme
  • 1973

    The first domestic figures for Scotland were unveiled. Domestic (UK resident) overnight visitors to Scotland:
     

    Trips Nights Spend
    12.3 million 65.5 million £171 million

     

  • 1973

    The first “gateway” Information Centre was opened at Southwaite on the M6 south of Carlisle in partnership with the English Tourist Board along with a further three national centres at Prestwick, Glasgow and Edinburgh airports.

  • 1974

    Robin MacLellan was appointed STB Chairman.

     Chairman Robin MacLellan
  • 1975

    Phillipe Taylor (formerly from the British Tourist Authority) took over as STB Chief Executive.

     Chief Executive Philippe Taylor
  • 1975

    Planning for Tourism in Scotland – a Preliminary National Strategy was published by the STB in August. This suggested preliminary guidelines for tourism policy in Scotland over the next five years. The report was in two main parts.

    The first part analysed the main factors influencing tourism policies and the second set out tentative policy guidelines. These included:

    • A new emphasis on existing resorts and other centres
    • A series of major self-catering holiday villages
    • A series of heritage projects
    • A second all-year resort on the scale of Aviemore
  • 1976

    New Tourist Information Centre in Edinburgh opened, jointly funded by Edinburgh District Council.

  • 1978

    The Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC) was founded as the leading source of knowledge on holiday letting and holiday homes in Scotland.

  • 1978

    The STB published a strategy in which they said that future growth in Scottish tourism was dependent on three key areas:

    • Overseas markets – priority must be given to increased information about holiday opportunities in Scotland
    • Rate of investment in tourism accommodation and facilities must be sustained and improved
    • The need to make Scotland more accessible
  • 1980

    In March 1980 Alan R. Devereux was appointed as the new Scottish Tourist Board (STB) Chairman. He stayed until 1990.

     Chairman Alan Devereaux
  • 1980

    Scotland’s Travel Trade Fair was held at Ingliston in Edinburgh. The event attracted 180 exhibitors and approximately 80 UK travel agents and tour operators. The British Tourist Authority (BTA) brought 120 overseas buyers to the event.

    Rebranded in 2002 to VisitScotland Expo, the event has become Scotland’s world-class, annual travel trade showcase, attracting hundreds of buyers from across the world.

  • 1981

    Dr David Pattison, former Head of Tourism at Highlands and Islands Development Board was appointed new Chief Executive of the STB.

     Chief Executive Dr David Pattison
  • 1981

    New 'Scotland’s For Me' campaign began - a major TV campaign aimed at boosting activity and family holidays. Larry Hagman (most known for DALLAS) and comedian Rod Hull and Emu joined the call to holiday in Scotland.

     Image of Larry Hagman in the Scotland's For Me TV advert
  • 1984

    A comprehensive Area Tourist Board (ATB) network was established with 32 ATBs. Seven districts didn't participate at the outset, and a further three district councils, including Edinburgh, chose to retain their autonomy over tourism matters in their area.

  • 1984

    The Tourism (Overseas Promotion) (Scotland) Act allowed the STB direct access to overseas markets for the first time.

  • 1985

    A new verified classification and grading scheme was introduced by Area Operations staff for accommodation.

  • 1985

    Welcome to Scotland signs were erected on the main road crossings into Scotland.

     Welcome to Scotland sign (left to right: Cllr Ian McIver, Borders Regional Council, John Home Robertson, MP, Cllr George Wanless, East Lothian Tourist Board Chairman, Riddell Graham, Scottish Borders Council, Allan McGhee, Roads Dept, Borders Regional Council, Dr David Pattison, Scottish Tourist Board Chief Executive, Peter Craig-Piper, Cllr Captain Jim Evans-Scottish Borders Tourist Board Chairman, Mr Jack Gillespie-Scottish Development Department, Mr Mike Williamson, Deputy Director of Area Operations Scottish Tourist Board.
  • 1986

    In January, the 'Surprising Scotland' theme was launched to 37 million. The TV, poster and advertising ‘teaser’ campaign highlighted attractive aspects of holidaying linked to overcoming widely held misconceptions about Scotland.

     Surprising Scotland campaign material
  • 1986

    In February, Geoffrey Hare (pictured left) was appointed the new STB Chief Executive.

     Chief Executive Geoffrey Hare (pictured left)
  • 1986

    The SCOTS Agents training programme was launched and originally open to travel agents in the US and Canada. In the summer of 2007, the programme was adapted to make it global and there are now qualified agents worldwide.

     Peggy Walther of TTN inc. toasting success of SCOTS programme
  • 1986

    St Kilda was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • 1986/87

    The STB won an ASH Award from the Scottish Committee for Action on Smoking and Health for its contribution to the campaign for a healthier Scotland by including non-smoking symbols in its accommodation guides.

  • 1986/87

    Tourism revenue reached a record £1.544 million – a new milestone which meant tourism had become Scotland’s number one industry, creating 130,000 jobs and bringing £2 billion to the economy. This was despite a difficult first part of the year, when there were panic cancellations on the back of the Libyan crisis and Chernobyl incident. Businesses recovered strongly in the second six months.

  • 1987

    In June, Tom M. Band was appointed as new STB Chief Executive.

     Chief Executive Tom Band
  • 1987

    'Scotland - A Different Holiday Every Day' marketing slogan was launched to underline the infinite variety of activities offered by a Scottish holiday. It was aimed at 35-55 year-old married couples living in north and south-east England, holidaying with or without dependent children.

     Scotland - It's a different holiday everyday brochure
  • 1987

    On behalf of the industry STB continued to campaign in key areas:

    Direct flights – the frequency and quality of direct services to Scotland was challenged.

    Unleaded petrol – high proportion of European visitors to Scotland requiring unleaded petrol prompted STB to campaign for a price differential in favour of the fuel. The Chancellor of the Exchequer introduced this in his spring Budget encouraging petrol distributors to extend the network of unleaded petrol supplies.

  • 1988

    The Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA) was established to support and inspire Scottish visitor attractions to deliver sustainable and world class experiences, through the sharing of best practice. 

  • 1989

    In December, Nevis Range opened to the public. The Nevis Range Mountain Gondola – the only of its kind in the UK – is a year-round visitor attraction transporting visitors to 650m on the mountain of Aonach Mor. As well as offering winter sports, the Nevis Range is an internationally acclaimed venue for mountain biking, having hosted major events such as the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup.

     The Nevis Range Mountain Gondola

    Credit VisitScotland / Paul Tomkins

  • 1990

    Ian Grant (pictured right) was appointed as Scottish Tourist Board (STB) Chairman.

     Chairman Ian Grant (pictured right)
  • 1990

    The STB agreed on a strategy for improving information and facilities for disabled visitors to Scotland following the publication of the 'Tourism for All' report.

  • 1990

    Glasgow became European City of Culture. Regarded to be a game-changer for the city, it catapulted Glasgow into the cultural limelight.

     City of Culture - Glasgow's Royal Concert Hall opens
  • 1990/91

    Direct flights between the US and Glasgow were introduced. This was an American Airlines flight to Chicago.

  • 1991

    Inauguration of full electric train service on British Rail's East Coast Main Line between London King's Cross and Edinburgh Waverley. The reduced travel time stimulated tourism to Scotland from the south of England.

  • 1991

    STB’s Eagle-eyed TV advert was released. It featured a father and son pair of eagles deciding to migrate for the first time to Scotland – most shots give an “eagle-eyed” view of Scotland from above.

  • 1992

    First Scottish Thistle Awards held in Glasgow to recognise and celebrate excellence in the Scottish tourism industry. Actress Dame Diana Rigg presented future VisitScotland Chairman Mike Cantlay with Young Manager of the Year award.

     Dame Diana Rigg and Michael Cantlay (winning Young Manager of the Year at the First Thistle Awards)
  • 1992

    The Fergusson Gallery opened in Perth in what was once the city’s waterworks building. It provided a permanent home to the world's largest collection of artworks produced by the renowned Scottish artist, John Duncan Fergusson, one of the most influential and important Scottish artists of the 20th century.

     Fergusson Gallery, Marshall Place, Perth.

    Credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

  • 1993/94

    The Secretary of State for Scotland gave the go-ahead to reshape the role of the STB as the lead agency for tourism in Scotland.

    A new National Strategic Plan for Tourism was produced by the STB setting out challenges, opportunities and threats facing Scottish tourism.

    The Area Tourist Boards (ATB) were to be reduced to 14 by 1996 and to become statutory bodies. The STB would have responsibility for all ATBs – in the past some were responsible to Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

  • 1994

    Derek Reid took over in April as STB Chief Executive.

     Chief Executive Derek Reid
  • 1994

    Edinburgh’s Hogmanay became a fully organised event, delivering great musical acts, a massive party area and fantastic midnight fireworks. It has since become one of the world's greatest New Year celebrations.

     Fireworks at Edinburgh's Hogmanay Street Party

    Credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

  • 1994

    The first Celtic Connections Festival brought together 35,000 people to celebrate Celtic culture using all available spaces in The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

     Celtic Connections. The world's largest winter music festival The 20th celebration opening concert, held in the festival's main venue. The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

    Credit VisitScotland / Paul Tomkins

  • 1994

    The first French consumer campaign was launched featuring poster advertising on buses, SNCF (trains), Metro stations and prime outdoor sites in the Paris metropolitan area. The slogan “Entre Legend et Realite” became the message through which “The Brand Scotland” was presented for the first time.

     L'Ecosse Offres Speciales
  • 1994

    The first German consumer campaign was launched. Scotland was presented as an active and “different” destination using wording that was both colourful and amusing.

     Der Zug der Zeit muβ irgendwo in den schottischen Highlands stehengeblieben sein
  • 1995

    The movie Braveheart based on the life of Scots national hero William Wallace was released. Decades later, it is still cited by visitors as one of the inspirations behind their decision to visit Scotland. A report the following year showed that the film had generated up to £15 million more in tourism revenue for the Scottish economy.

    Rob Roy was also released this year.

     Tour guide at the Wallace Monument tells of William Wallace's life.

    Credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

  • 1995

    Old and New Towns of Edinburgh were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

     Edinburgh Castle and the Balmoral Hotel clocktower at sunrise

    Credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

  • 1995

    The 'Autumn Gold' initiative was launched to stimulate domestic tourism to Scotland in October and November. It generated £9.7 million.

     Autumn Gold campaign
  • 1996

    Tom Buncle took over as STB Chief Executive.

     Chief Executive Tom Buncle
  • 1996

    Following the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1994, 14 ATBs were established.

  • 1996

    Loch Ness movie was released starring Ted Danson and Joely Richardson who attended an event with the Highland Council.

  • 1996

    STB’s Wild Mountain Thyme TV advert was first aired. The soundtrack was Wild Mountain Thyme by Scottish band The Silencers. It focused on a woman travelling by train to Scotland and a man surfing and travelling by car interspersed with images of Scotland such as castles, salmon and a family in Edinburgh.

    Edinburgh poet Norman MacCaig appeared on screen with his voiceover reading a line from one of his poems Only men's minds could have unmapped into abstraction such a territory”.

  • 1996

    The new Quality Assurance Scheme was launched. The star ratings replaced the previous crown scheme. By 1997/98 it was shown to be driving up standards across Scotland.

  • 1997

    The Clyde Auditorium opened in Glasgow. The architecture of this unique 3,000-seat conference and events space set the tone for the city’s progressive approach to architecture along the banks of the Clyde. Affectionately known as The Armadillo, it’s become one of the city’s most celebrated landmarks.

     SSE Hydro arena is located on the site of The Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, Glasgow.

    Credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

  • 1998

    The first ever Tartan Day Parade was held in New York on 6 April 1998. The Parade was established to mark the anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath, and has grown from strength to strength, enjoyed by thousands of marchers and spectators every year. 

  • 1998

    Lord Gordon of Strathblane became the new STB chairman.

     Chairman Lord Gordon of Strathblane
  • 1998

    The new building of the National Museum of Scotland opened, telling the nation’s history from earliest times to the present day. Sitting adjacent to the original Victorian building, the new building was designed to suggest a modern interpretation of a Scottish castle.

     The National Museum of Scotland on the corner of Chambers Street and George IV Bridge, in the city centre of Edinburgh

    Credit VisitScotland / Paul Tomkins

  • 1998

    Having been decommissioned following a farewell tour of the UK in 1997, The Royal Yacht Britannia opened to the public as a visitor attraction the following year.

     The Royal Yacht Britannia

    Credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

  • 1998

    The National Mining Museum Scotland opened at Newtongrange. The Lady Victoria Colliery is one of the finest surviving examples of a Victorian colliery in Europe.

     The National Mining Museum, Midlothian.

    Credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

  • 1999

    Our Dynamic Earth opened in Edinburgh. The first Landmark Millennium Commission project to open in the UK, it was designed as a focal point in the regeneration of Edinburgh’s Old Town, and a unique cultural and scientific learning resource.

     Our Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh

    Credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

  • 1999

    The Heart of Neolithic Orkney was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The designation included Maes Howe, the Stones of Stenness, the Ring of Brodgar and the prehistoric village of Skara Brae.

     Skara Brae, part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney world heritage site by the Bay of Skaill, Orkney

    Credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

  • 1999

    Glasgow was crowned UK City of Architecture and Design 1999. This saw a yearlong programme of major events and the opening of The Lighthouse.

     The Lighthouse, Scotland's Centre for Design and Architecture, is a visitor centre, exhibition space and events venue situated in the heart of Glasgow

    Credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

  • 1999

    On 12 May The Scottish Parliament convened for the first time. This had direct responsibility for tourism and its funding, however, there was not a Minister for Tourism – this came under the remit of the Minister of Enterprise and Lifelong Learning (Henry McLeish).

  • 2000

    The Scottish Parliament produced “A New Strategy for Tourism”. This set a target of 14.3 million tourist visits by 2005 with revenue from tourism of £3.1 billion. The 1990s had shown minimal growth in the numbers of tourist trips – 11.5 million in 1989 and 11.8 million in 1998. It noted that there was a growth in “cash-rich, time-poor” travellers resulting in more frequent, shorter holidays, especially in urban areas.

     Scottish Parliament Building

    Credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

  • 2000

    Inverness was announced as Scotland’s newest city.

     Inverness Castle from Inverewe Gardens

    Credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

  • 2000

    In July, Henry McLeish, then Enterprise Minister in the Scottish Parliament instigated a management review of the Scottish Tourist Board (STB). This recommended that the STB underwent a process of reinvention under new leadership and with more effective partnerships. As a result, the STB was rebranded VisitScotland in 2001.

  • 2000

    Peter Lederer became the new STB Chairman and remained in post until 2010.

     Chairman Peter Lederer
  • 2000

    The single most expensive print advert the STB ever purchased was bought in the Christmas special issue of the Radio Times, featuring a map of Scotland and boxes to tick to request brochures for every area of Scotland. This so-called ‘tick box’ advert cost £120,000.

  • 2000

    Peter McKinlay became Interim STB Chief Executive in December.

  • 2001

    The foot and mouth crisis affected tourism particularly badly in the south of Scotland resulting in a major marketing investment, including the first investment in 7stanes. 9/11 impacted airline travel throughout the world - predominantly from the US.

    We estimated losses from foot and mouth would reach £350 million, while the terrorist attacks would account for estimated losses of £150 million.

  • 2001

    Our spring into summer campaign launched and generated £19.1 million additional expenditure.

  • 2001

    The Scottish Tourism Forum was incorporated as a limited company by guarantee in January 2001. The name was changed on July 2012 to the Scottish Tourism Alliance.

  • 2001

    Philip Riddle became VisitScotland Chief Executive in August 2001. 

     Chief Executive Philip Riddle
  • 2001

    Our current Chief Executive Malcolm Roughead joined VisitScotland as Director of Marketing in May.

     Chief Executive Malcolm Roughead
  • 2001

    The £75 million Glasgow Science Centre opened featuring a Science Mall, IMAX theatre, the Glasgow Tower and more than 300 exhibits.

     Glasgow Science Centre

    Credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

  • 2001

    New Lanark was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 18th century village was acclaimed as offering a unique insight into an important period of Scotland’s industrial heritage and the progressive thinking of the mill village’s manager Robert Owen.

     New Lanark Visitor Centre

    Credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

  • 2001

    A new ancestral tourism strategy and a dedicated website were launched to encourage potential visitors from across the world to come to Scotland to explore their Scottish ancestry.

     Culloden Battlefield

    Credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

  • 2002

    The popular ‘Senses’ UK consumer campaign was launched in spring, promoting the ways in which a holiday in Scotland brings the senses alive. The campaign proved a major success, running for nine years.

    Three versions of the advert were produced to encourage year-round visits to Scotland from the UK market. It generated many enquiries from the public about the music featured in the advertisements.

  • 2002

    The inaugural UCI Downhill Mountain Bike World Cup was held at the Nevis Range in Fort William. The multi-award winning event has gone from strength to strength and is now a firm favourite on the sporting calendar.

     Mountain Bike World Cup, Fort William

    Credit VisitScotland / Paul Tomkins

  • 2002

    Loch Lomond & The Trossachs was designated as a National Park – the first National Park in Scotland. We supported the opening by coordinating and delivering a TV advertising campaign on behalf of strategic partners.

     View of Loch Lomond from Conic Hill

    Credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

  • 2002

    Stirling was granted city status in an announcement coinciding with HM the Queen’s Golden Jubilee year.

     Stirling town centre

    Credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

  • 2002

    The Falkirk Wheel opened. The world’s first revolving boat lift made it possible for visitors to take a boat trip connecting the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal using less energy than it takes to boil a kettle. We worked with Scottish Canals, Falkirk Council and other partners to promote the new attractions, including delivery of a TV advertising campaign aimed at the domestic market.

     The Falkirk Wheel

    Credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

  • 2003

    A public private partnership (between VisitScotland and Schlumberger Sema) was set up to run visitscotland.com - initially under the trading name of eTourism Ltd.

  • 2003

    The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown was published. Seen by some as controversial, the book’s main characters find themselves at Rosslyn Chapel and, as a result, the Chapel itself came to worldwide attention.

     Rosslyn Chapel

    Credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

  • 2003

    The ‘longest poster’ saw us take over a London Waterloo Underground station and fill every advertising slot with a single stunning panoramic image of the Highlands, with a timeline showing how you could enjoy a perfect day.

     Underground poster
  • 2003

    The Cairngorms National Park was officially opened on 1 September by Liz Hanna, the great, great granddaughter of John Muir, founder of the National Park movement. At 3,800 square kilometres, the Cairngorms is the UK's biggest National Park, and features one of Scotland’s five highest mountains and 43 Munros.

     The Cairngorms National Park

    Credit VisitScotland / Jakub Iwanicki

  • 2003

    EventScotland was set up in November 2003 to raise Scotland's reputation as the perfect stage by supporting and securing a portfolio of events and developing the industry. One of its first supported events was the 2003 MTV Europe Music Awards held near Ocean Terminal in Edinburgh.

  • 2004

    Edinburgh became the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature. The idea was conceived by a group of city book lovers who came up with the idea of approaching UNESCO to form a global network of creative cities. Nearly 30 cities have since been inspired by the example set by Edinburgh.

     Statue of Robert Fergusson at the gates of Canongate Kirk

    Credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

  • 2004

    The 'Welcome to Our Life' campaign launched in European markets. It spanned city breaks and touring mailers and adverts and lasted through to 2007.

     L'Ecosse en Direct Leaflet
  • 2004/05

    Following extensive consultation, the Tourism (Scotland) Bill Consultation Paper proposed the new VisitScotland network was established as one single national tourism network with 14 area offices, effective on 1 April 2005. VisitScotland and the 14 Area Tourist Boards (ATBs) were to merge.

  • 2005

    The new VisitScotland head office opened at Ocean Point, Edinburgh.

  • 2005

    The Challenge Fund (the forerunner to the current Growth Fund) was launched to encourage collaborative tourism marketing campaigns across Scotland. Groups of businesses were awarded up to 40% of costs towards agreed marketing campaigns. The first round saw 28 successful groups awarded a total funding of £281,706.

  • 2005

    Following the re-organisation of 14 ATBs into one national body, five core activities were highlighted:

    • Providing strategic direction to the industry
    • Marketing Scotland and its tourism assets worldwide
    • Providing information and inspiration to visitors so they can experience the best of Scotland
    • Providing Quality Assurance to visitors and quality advice to industry partners to make sure the industry meets or exceeds visitors’ expectations
    • Promoting partnerships across the industry to make sure we all reap the economic benefits of collective effort
  • 2007

    The Tourist Board (Scotland) Act 2006 came into force on 1 April 2007, formally changing the name of the Scottish Tourist Board to VisitScotland.

  • 2007

    The Shetland Museum and Archives opened in Lerwick. This initiative brought the extensive and rich collections of both Shetland Museum and Shetland Archives together under one roof for the first time, to tell the fascinating story of Shetland’s heritage and culture.

     The Shetland Museum and Archives

    Credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

  • 2007

    EventScotland relaunched Scotland’s only Ladies European Tour golf tournament, the Ladies Scottish Open in Gullane.

  • 2007

    'Date a Hot Scot' launched in the UK and across 13 countries in seven languages.

    The proposition was fun and innovative; namely the opportunity to go online, check out our most eligible ‘Hot Scots’, vote for your favourite and win a dream trip to Scotland to meet him, his fellow Hot Scots, and experience Scotland’s warmth of hospitality, stunning scenery and vibrant cities. Stuart Duncan was voted the Hot Scot.

     Date a Hot Scot
  • 2007

    The first 'Winter White' campaign launched (November 2007 – March 2008) encouraging visitors to explore the beauty of Scotland during the winter months, enjoying accommodation deals, winter sports, wildlife watching and country breaks. It went on to win several prestigious marketing awards and boosted the economy by more than £46 million.

     Winter White - Edinburgh mailer
  • 2008

    The Antonine Wall, part of the ancient Roman lines near Falkirk, was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • 2008

    Glasgow was designated as a UNESCO City of Music.

     Celtic Connections

    Credit VisitScotland / Paul Tomkins

  • 2008

    Our new Growth Fund launched (replacing the Challenge Fund). Round one was delivered on 21 August.

  • 2009

    Scotland’s first Themed Year - Scotland’s Year of Homecoming – took place throughout 2009. The Year featured a programme of more than 400 events and activities to encourage those with Scottish roots, or who felt a particular affinity with Scotland, to visit. 

    It proved to be a great success with 72,000 visitors coming to Scotland exclusively as a result of the campaign, generating £53.7 million in additional tourism revenue, 22% above target.

     Homecoming Scotland 2009
  • 2009

    Our 'Perfect Day' campaign launched in ‘silver spot’ slot in cinemas – aimed specifically at London audiences to show them how they could spend a ‘Perfect Day’ in Scotland.

    It delivered more than £70 million for the Scottish economy, generating £35 for every £1 invested, making it the "most successful seasonal marketing campaign ever".

  • 2009

    Galloway Forest Park was officially unveiled as the first Dark Sky Park in the UK, boosting tourism in south west Scotland.

     Sunrise over Glen Trool, Galloway

    Credit VisitScotland / Damian Shields

  • 2010

    In April an ash cloud from Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull caused chaos in Europe and affected VisitScotland Expo, with buyers stranded. Tourism businesses rallied to show true Scottish hospitality to ensure those unable to fly home enjoyed a comfortable extended stay in Scotland.

  • 2010

    Mike Cantlay was appointed VisitScotland Chairman from 1 April.

     Chairman Mike Cantlay
  • 2010

    In September, Malcolm Roughead was appointed VisitScotland Chief Executive.

     Chief Executive Malcolm Roughead
  • 2010

    Our ‘Meet the Scots’ campaign first launched in European markets and was later rolled out into long haul markets. It became our first ever pan-regional campaign across all international markets. It had a budget of £1.25 million and generated nearly £97 million additional expenditure in 2010.

    The campaign focused on the passion of more than 20 different Scots ambassadors who each represented a different theme associated with Scottish tourism such as food and drink, Scottish culture and the activity and events sectors.

     Meet the Scots
  • 2010

    In December, the £21 million Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway, South Ayrshire opened.

     The Burns Birthplace Museum, Alloway

    Credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

  • 2011

    The Year of Active Scotland saw Scots residents and visitors alike encouraged to get active in Scotland’s great outdoors. Activities ranged from world-renowned walking and mountain biking to adrenaline-pumping activities such as kite surfing and canyoning.

  • 2011

    The 'Surprise Yourself' campaign was launched, including new television adverts to highlight some of the fantastic things to see and do across Scotland. This continued through to 2013. The campaign aimed to celebrate and remind people about all the great things Scotland could offer for a holiday, but also challenge stereotypes and show the wide range of activities and attractions people could enjoy in addition to our renowned beautiful scenery.

    The 2011-12 campaign generated an additional £68 million for the visitor economy from a dedicated budget of £2.78 million.

     Surprise Yourself campaign
  • 2012

    Scotland’s programme of Themed Years continued with the Year of Creative Scotland 2012. The nation’s creative industries were platformed under a number of pillars, as well as featuring a packed events and festivals programme. 

  • 2012

    A partnership with Disney Pixar for the animated film Brave saw us run a £5 million campaign to promote Scotland through everything from the world premiere of the film to TV adverts.   

  • 2012

    Conference Bid Fund launched: £2 million national fund aimed at attracting more business tourism to Scotland over three years. Glasgow was the first city to prosper.

  • 2013

    In 2013 all standalone regional websites (13) were brought under visitscotland.com allowing all regional content to be viewed on one site.

  • 2013

    Year of Natural Scotland 2013 – Scotland’s outstanding natural beauty was celebrated throughout the year. Promotions featured stunning natural landscapes, surprising wildlife, art inspired by nature and delicious, locally produced food and drink.

  • 2013

    Shetland ponies in jumpers photoshoot and video was released as part of the Year of Natural Scotland. Said to be our first viral campaign, it received global recognition.  

  • 2013

    In September, the £125 million SSE Hydro opened in Glasgow providing the city and Scotland with a brand-new entertainment venue built to accommodate world class events.

     SSE Hydro Arena, Glasgow

    Credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

  • 2013

    Launch of the Taste Our Best scheme. Established as the latest addition to our Quality Assurance Scheme programme, it was introduced to bring together the tourism and food and drink industries in Scotland following the publication of research which showed visitors are prepared to pay up to 15% more for produce of Scottish or regional origin.

     Taste Our Best logo
  • 2014

    Having been completed in October 2013, the Kelpies opened to the public in April 2014.

     The Kelpies, Helix Park

    Credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

  • 2014

    The year when ‘Scotland Welcomes the World!’. The year provided a unique platform to shine a global light on Scotland.

    A main focus was the Year of Homecoming 2014 consisting of more than 1,000 events, attended by 4.6 million people. This second Year of Homecoming built on the success of the 2009 initiative.

    Glasgow played host to the 2014 Commonwealth Games. The event was widely acclaimed for its organisation, attendance, and the public enthusiasm of the people of Scotland, with Commonwealth Games Federation Chief Executive Mike Hooper hailing them as "the standout games in the history of the movement".

    Scotland also hosted The 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, only the second time that the biggest golf event in the world has taken place in Scotland (first time was at Muirfield in 1973).

  • 2014

    The Renfrewshire town of Paisley was the only UK starting point for the Monte Carlo Rally – a tradition it has upheld every year since.

  • 2014

    Our 'Brilliant Moments' campaign was launched, enticing visitors from across the UK to discover their own brilliant moments in Scotland. The campaign was designed to complement the programme of high profile events taking place across the year.

  • 2014

    The Outlander TV series first aired in the US. Based on the books by author Diana Gabaldon and inspired by events surrounding the Jacobite Uprisings, the series was an immediate hit with US consumers, and kickstarted a strong boost in visitor numbers to Historic Scotland and National Trust for Scotland attractions featured in the show, as well as the real-life locations involved in the story.

  • 2014

    The new Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre outside Stirling opened its doors for the first time on 1 March. Developed in partnership between the National Trust for Scotland and Historic Scotland, the centre was created to deliver a world-class immersive experience in time for the Battle's 700th anniversary.

     The Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre
  • 2014

    Dundee was designated as the UK’s first UNESCO City of Design.

     Desperate Dan statue opposite City Square, Dundee

    Credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

  • 2015

    In December, we announced three new female Board members to achieve a gender balanced Board for the first time.

  • 2015

    North Coast 500 was launched. This route, billed as the ultimate road trip, starts and finishes in Inverness and takes in around 500 miles.

     Bealach na Ba - the road to Applecross

    Credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

  • 2015

    Scotland celebrated the Year of Food and Drink with a year-long programme of events and activities that shone a spotlight on Scotland’s natural larder. The growing reputation of Scotland’s restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs resulted in a visitor spend of almost £1 billion on food and drink during the year.

  • 2015

    The Forth Bridge was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

     The Forth Bridge

    Credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

  • 2015

    Following a competitive process, Scotland was awarded the 2019 Solheim Cup ahead of Sweden. The event will take place at Gleneagles, making the venue the only European golf resort to have hosted both the Ryder Cup and the Solheim Cup.

  • 2015

    The Borders Railway opened on 9 September. This £294 million project re-established a 30-mile section of the former Waverley line, linking Edinburgh and Tweedbank in the Scottish Borders, via Midlothian.

    As part of the Borders Railway Blueprint partnership, we saught to maximise benefits from the new Borders Railway. £367,000 was invested in a unique three-year (2015 - 2017) national and international marketing campaign to put the new Railway on the map. The funding was provided by Scottish Borders Council and Midlothian Council, with match funding from the Scottish Government.

  • 2016

    Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016 saw the nation celebrate Scotland’s achievements across these three important fields. More than a million people attended events during the Year.

  • 2016

    In February, we brought the 'Scotland - a spirit of its own' campaign to life in our first ever global campaign and social movement.

    • Over 66 million potential visitors worldwide viewed the ‘Spirit’ films and documentaries
    • #ScotSpirit was a major success with 1,000 daily uses by national and international visitors, businesses and locals
    • Unprecedented engagement across our social media channels with followers averaging an increase of 100%
    • ScotSpirit holidays in collaboration with the Family Holiday Association saw more than 300 people from disadvantaged backgrounds —including 200 children —receive a much-needed break as a result
    • iKnow online community and trip planner launched
    • VIP (VisitScotland Information Partner) Programme launched – supporting businesses in giving out information to customers and showcasing their unique local knowledge
    • 7 out of 10 businesses in Scotland stated they were aware of the campaign
     I've #ScotSpirit
  • 2016

    Our first Coo Van arrived on 21 April 2016 and was on display at VisitScotland Expo at the Royal Highland Show, Edinburgh.

     Coo Van with Coo-Visors by Salisbury Crags

    Credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

  • 2016

    Launch of Scotland’s new Ambassador Network for our business events team - Innovate the Nation. A series of talks showcasing Scottish expertise across the nation.

  • 2016

    John Thurso was appointed VisitScotland Chairman on 1 April 2016.

     Chairman John Thurso in Edinburgh
  • 2017

    In February, Scotland was named the most beautiful country in the world by Rough Guides, beating Canada, New Zealand and Finland.

  • 2017

    We celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Scottish Thistle Awards.

     The Scottish Thistle Awards 25th anniversary
  • 2017

    Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology celebrated important places across Scotland including UNESCO World Heritage Sites, ancient monuments, listed buildings and battlefields. It also captured our cultural traditions, captivating myths, stories and legends.

    Visits to Historic Environment Scotland locations hit a record high of 5 million and overseas visitors to Scotland were up 16.9% to 3.2 million.

  • 2017

    In April, The Hebridean Way was launched. This dedicated long-distance walking route connecting the islands of the Outer Hebrides offers visitors an exciting new way to discover island life and explore the unique character of each island in the archipelago. The 156-mile Way takes in 10 islands, six causeways and two ferry crossings.

     Hebridean Way

    Credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

  • 2017

    A European-first collaboration between ourselves and TripAdvisor saw Scotland’s world-class tourism offering promoted to almost 70 million new potential visitors, generating a potential additional spend of £150 million.

  • 2017

    Shop Local launched after the success of the pilot the previous year. Our retail team worked closely with our Information Centre network to deliver an exceptional in-store experience, providing customers with a quality range of Scottish themed literature, food and gifts.  

     Shop Local logo
  • 2017

    Edinburgh marked the 70th anniversary of the Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Edinburgh International Film Festival.

     MACBETH, Edinburgh International Festival

    Credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

  • 2017

    The Queensferry Crossing opened, making it the third bridge over the River Forth, joining the 1970s road bridge and the iconic Victorian rail bridge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

     The Queensferry Crossing

    Credit VisitScotland / Airborne Lens

  • 2017

    In October, we launched a strategy to address the diverse transformation in the way visitors access information on what to see and do while in the country. Following a 58% drop in footfall, a two-year programme to streamline the number of our Information Centres to 26 in high impact areas was announced.

  • 2017

    In November, Scotland’s first-ever business events digital campaign 'Legends' was launched in collaboration with all of Scotland’s Convention Bureaux, transforming the global messaging of Scotland to the world. Our Business Events team won an ICCA (International Congress and Convention Association) Best Marketing Award 2018 for the campaign in November 2018.

  • 2018

    Year of Young People 2018 was a global first, providing a platform to showcase the personalities, talents and achievements of Scotland's young people.

  • 2018

    The Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF) was launched on 30 March in response to overtourism issues. Administered by VisitScotland, the Fund supports sustainable, well planned, inspiring and collaborative infrastructure projects to enable more visitors to enjoy Scotland’s rural communities.

  • 2018

    In April, an exciting new initiative bringing together the Scottish Government, VisitScotland, Scottish Development International and Universities Scotland was launched via the ‘Scotland is Now’ campaign to promote the country globally.

    A ground-breaking augmented reality app that invites the world to step into Scotland was created in close collaboration with Google as part of the global campaign.

  • 2018

    Dundee was named in the top ten Best in Europe places to visit cementing its place as a thriving new city to visit - and building on its UNESCO City of Design Award in 2014.

    In September, the V&A Museum of Design Dundee opened its doors. As Scotland’s first design museum it tells a global story, investigating the international importance of design alongside Scotland’s outstanding design achievements. It welcomed its 100,000th visitor three weeks after opening to the public.

     The V&A Dundee

    Credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

  • 2018

    The Macallan Distillery and Visitor Centre opened on 5 June. The venue unveiled its new £140 million distillery and visitor centre, designed by internationally-acclaimed architects, Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners. The project took more than three years and will allow production to increase by about a third.

    Our Quality Assurance Scheme awarded the venue five stars in November.

  • 2018

    The Highlands and Islands (including Outer Hebrides, Moray Speyside and Aberdeenshire) was named a top 10 region in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2019.

    Credit Lonely Planet, all rights reserved

  • 2018

    International Passenger Survey figures were released for 2017 in Scotland. They revealed that international tourism was booming, with visits up 17% on 2016, with 3.2 million overall visits, and spend up 23% to £2.27 billion during the same period.