1. Strategy steering group and workstreams
Our coordinated Scotland-wide strategic approach educates key audiences to enjoy our countryside responsibly. It pulls together the current and planned actions into a cohesive and aligned direction of travel.
We bundled this in a vision of how the visitor experience will develop over a 10-year period. An action log records progress against our four strategy pillars:
- Educating our current and future visitors
- Investing in Scotland’s current and future visitor management infrastructure and services
- Delivering a joined up and cohesive action plan across Scotland
- Becoming and remaining a world leader in visitor management
The strategy and its implementation is overseen by the Strategy Steering Group. VisitScotland chairs it. Other members are:
- Cairngorms National Park Authority
- Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park
- Forestry & Land Scotland
- Highland Council
- Police Scotland
- Scottish Government (tourism)
- Transport Scotland
Subgroups of this steering group bring together regional and national partners. Together, they cover three workstreams:
Education and marketing
Developing and delivering public-facing communications to:
- Promote sustainable tourism and responsible behaviour
- Communicate with stakeholders about the strategy
Coordinating local visitor management on the ground, particularly in hotspot areas.
- Facilitate coordinated implementation of the strategy
- Monitor progress (including maintaining the action log)
- Lead on areas requiring particular technical input
2. Marketing activity
We're working with partner organisations to deliver a coordinated approach to:
- Responsible tourism marketing
- Education activity
Building on activity in previous years, we delivered a campaign named Keep Scotland Unspoiled.
Keep Scotland Unspoiled used social media, local radio and digital marketing. It aimed to educate, inspire and inform people about issues such as:
- Water safety, fire safety, dog control
- The need to adhere to the Scottish Outdoor Access Code
We used humour to convey our key messaging. We also ensured we set a more positive tone around the need to behave responsibly when visiting outdoor places.
As part of our efforts this year to reach younger audiences, we also worked with some of Scotland’s top travel influencers. They created content for their channels themed around the key topics.
3. Industry guide
The partnership worked together to create a dedicated guide with films, images, content and more. The tourism industry (business and stakeholders) can use it across their own social media activity and marketing.
Also check out our responsible tourism imagery on a wide range of important topics, including:
- Water safety
- Responsible dog walking
- Outdoor access
- Fire safety
4. Infrastructure and resource
Agencies and local authorities are working in partnership to address the issues on the ground. This covers long term strategic planning and permanent infrastructure developments alongside immediate measures. These include temporary infrastructure and the provision of additional rangers.
Specific plans and initiatives on which our partners took the lead include:
NatureScot’s Better Places Green Recovery Fund
This fund supported extra or new seasonal ranger posts and visitor operations staff. These people dealt with visitor management in “hot spot” locations in Scotland during the 2022 season.
Forestry Land Scotland’s Stay the Night initiative
This initiative ran in 2021 and 2022, helping to meet the growing demand for motorhome and campervan stopping places. It also encouraged people to stay a little longer and provide a boost to many small rural businesses.
Before our current approach, we already started to deliver the following fund with Scottish Government:
It addresses the pressures on infrastructure and negative impacts on local communities due to a rise in visitors to these areas. 24 strategic tourism infrastructure development plans have also been developed across rural Scotland. These will also help inform the priorities for the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund over the next three to five years.
5. Management at key hotspots
Our partner agencies make visitor experiences as enjoyable and positive as possible with a focus on key hotspots. In 2022, the same approach was adopted in the following locations:
- North Coast 500
- Arisaig & Morar
- Cairngorms National Park
- Highland Perthshire
- Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park
- Galloway Forest Park
- Loch Ken
- Pentland Hills Regional Park
- The East Lothian Coastline
These parts of Scotland are facing visitor management challenges. So, they put measures in place to ensure those visiting enjoy their time but leave no trace. The areas are diverse and include everything from beaches, forestry, lochs and some of Scotland’s highest mountains. Visitors experienced a range of local improvements including:
- Increased infrastructure and signage
- Friendly, knowledgeable rangers and / or staff on hand to answer any questions or give words of advice
6. Regional projects
There is a range of projects being undertaken by partners across the country. They particularly use technology to tackle visitor management challenges and assist visitors. These include:
Visit East Lothian’s app
This app helps visitors and residents to check how busy destinations are. It works using sensor data captured live from eleven of East Lothian Council’s coastal carparks.
National Park Journey Planner
This pilot project trials a way of providing all the potential travel options for visitors in one place. It will make it easier to research, plan and book a day trip.
Developing a new platform to take data from sensors, this traveltech startup is working with:
- Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park
- Stirling Council
- Perth & Kinross Council
These sensors count footfall along with on-the-ground observations added by countryside rangers. This will train an algorithm, predicting crowded areas and times in future. This way, it can offer visitors can alternative suggestions for places to go.
These were deployed as part of the Highland Council’s visitor management plans. The council’s rangers started work in April and the team will build to at least seventeen rangers by June. Together they work through the high season and into early autumn.
7. Virtual summits
Cabinet Secretaries have convened several visitor management summits. The first summit identified the issues and established the need for a strategy and steering group. Follow up have summits checked on the strategy progress. A wide range of partners and stakeholders across Scotland attended these.