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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 17/11/2020

Global tour operators and travel agents are linking with Scottish tourism businesses through a brand-new virtual event pilot entitled Scotland Reconnect 2020.

The first event of its kind that we've delivered, Scotland Reconnect 2020 takes place from 23 - 25 November and offers international travel agents and tour operators, or ‘buyers’ the opportunity to connect and do business with Scottish suppliers online.

Events including VisitScotland’s annual Expo travel trade showcase and programmes of business development missions have long been critical platforms for facilitating these connections, but rendered impossible by COVID-19 restrictions this year, new digital platforms like Scotland Reconnect 2020 have been developed and will see some 200 buyers undertake virtual meetings with around 200 Scottish tourism businesses.

Buyers from the USA, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Scandinavia, Australia and Brazil are attending Scotland Reconnect 2020, as well as London-based inbound operators representing the Japanese and Chinese markets.

In addition to facilitating some 4,000 business meetings, there will also be live webinars, round table discussions and breakout sessions, an online presentation hub and virtual experiences demonstrating what Scotland can offer buyers’ clients, including trad music sessions with Gary Innes from top trad band Manran, whisky tasting experiences with Glengoyne Distillery and The Whisky Experience, as well as storytelling with Mercat Tours. 

Woman working from laptop in relaxed surroundings

Credit: Matt Davis

Our Chairman, Lord Thurso, will open and close Scotland Reconnect 2020 and participants will also be able to hear from global tourism speakers and take part in round table discussions when our Head of Engagement, Denise Hill, joins Tom Jenkins, CEO of the European Tour Operators Association, in conversation on the impact of Brexit on the German and US markets. Joss Croft, CEO of UK Inbound, will be discussing forecasting for 2021 and what businesses should consider when addressing current issues and challenges in global tourism.

Our Senior Tourism Insight Manager, Chris Greenwood, will also run sessions on global trends and COVID-time consumer behaviour. Responsible travel, a theme of growing importance among travelers around the globe, will be on the agenda, alongside the promotion of initiatives including Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 (which has been announced to continue into 2021).

This year has been extremely challenging for tourism businesses across Scotland and the decision to cancel Expo 2020 was not taken lightly, given the success of the event in 2019 and preceding years.

Scottish tourism has strong foundations and visitor sentiment towards Scotland is still very positive, so I am delighted that Scotland Reconnect 2020 has been created using our new online platform to ensure that businesses can continue to engage and convert that continuing interest into visits. Demand is building and Scotland is still a priority for our international markets.

We hope to reconnect international buyers with suppliers from across Scotland, to demonstrate the strong tourism product this country has to offer its visitors, to secure business for the future and to ensure the recovery of our international markets in 2021 and beyond.

Lord Thurso, Chairman of VisitScotland

Scotland is very much a key market for Tenon Tours. VisitScotland Expo in Scotland every year is one of my favourite events to attend. Being able to reconnect this year through a virtual event with our valued suppliers is very much welcome as we endeavour to be ready for the return of our clients to Scotland when the time is right.

Liz Aungier, Director of Product and Vendor Relations at USA-based Tenon Tours

Mercat Tours looks forward to reconnecting with our trade partners and looking ahead. It’s a positive step to plan together and we’re confident that the strong relationships and reputation for high quality experiences we deliver in Scotland will bring recovery and growth to benefit us all.

Kat Brogan, Managing Director of Mercat Tours

After a difficult year, we are delighted to be part of this virtual event to reconnect with businesses across the globe to showcase what a fantastic country Scotland is. We look forward to our beautiful country being fully reopen for business and this event will be a great opportunity to help international and domestic buyers plan and organise their trips for 2021 and beyond.

Jill Hampton, Account Manager for ScotRail

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