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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 01/04/2021

The challenges faced by you, our industry, have never at any point been underestimated in the last year. The financial and emotional burden carried by our tourism colleagues has been immense. 

It has been a turbulent and challenging year for the Scottish tourism and events industry – but the announcement last month from the First Minister outlining indicative dates for the reopening of much of our industry was welcome news. It’s a glimmer of light in what has been dark times. We continue to focus on delivering much-needed funding support to businesses as quickly as possible with more than 200 of our staff having been redeployed to deal with the 5,000 applications we have received and administer funds on behalf of the Scottish Government.  

I wanted to take time to update Edinburgh’s tourism industry on our activity as we work towards a safe reopening. Whilst the tourism industry has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, we've seen Scots getting out and enjoying the countryside. But it's important that while people make the most of our spectacular outdoors, they do so in a responsible manner that respects local communities, agriculture and wildlife. As a result, we have come together to develop a Scotland-wide strategic and coordinated approach to visitor management.

What is paramount for us is the desire to work with communities to ensure that both visitors and locals can have fantastic experiences when tourism starts to rebuild itself. We understand that tourism businesses are a vital part of communities, helping them to thrive, and we want to ensure that the welfare of communities is considered as much as the needs of visitors as we go forward.  

There’s a lot to consider and we’ll keep you informed of the latest developments and guidance from across the sector.

Paula Ward, VisitScotland Regional Leadership Director


Paula Ward

Visitor management

We’ve announced a responsible tourism campaign to highlight the importance of exploring Scotland responsibly. Our campaign aims to address some of the issues experienced last year, when we saw a rise in domestic visitors who sought to discover and enjoy Scotland’s countryside.

As more people enjoy the outdoors as the weather improves, and as lockdown restrictions gradually ease, our campaign calls for visitors to be considerate of the impact that our visits can have on the landscapes, wildlife and communities that Scotland’s famed for. 

To complement the campaign, we’ve created a dedicated responsible tourism page on our consumer site, responsible tourism itineraries for the travel trade and practical information and advice for Scotland’s tourism sector.

The activity supports the visitor management strategy which was announced by Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism, Fergus Ewing on Friday 19 March. Find out more about the strategy which asks visitors to protect our countryside, respect local communities, wildlife and landscapes while enjoying Scotland's natural beauty. 

Scotland, yours to enjoy. Responsibly.

Reopening plans

Our iCentre network

With the date set for parts of the tourism sector to reopen on 26 April, we've outlined our plans for reopening our iCentre network, putting the safety of our staff and visitors at the heart of what we do. 

iCentres are a significant part of the community, and so we look forward to opening our doors, alongside tourism businesses across Scotland, to provide that warm welcome we’re known for. Our Edinburgh iCentre will reopen on 26 April and we're excited to welcome back our visitors soon.

iCentre staff

Get Tourism Ready webinar

If you’d like to hear more about consumer travel insights, marketing Scotland and industry support, please join our upcoming webinar which takes place on 13 April at 11am ahead of the date set out for parts of the tourism sector to reopen. Sign up today.

Funding support

Laptop on table

Funding continues to be a focus for the 200 VisitScotland staff that have been deployed to administer funds on behalf of the Scottish Government.

The latest fund was announced at the Scottish Tourism Alliaiance conference by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Holiday vouchers, discounts for days out and a marketing fund are included in a new £25 million tourism recovery programme.

The programme, which has been developed by the Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group (STERG) in partnership with businesses, will support the Scottish Tourism Recovery Taskforce objectives.

Information on all the support that is available can be found on our financial support page

Training and webinars

We’ve been running a series of webinars in partnership with DigitalBoost which are focused on digital skills such as search engine optimisation, social media, and analytics. These webinars are available to watch back on our YouTube channel.

Keep up to date with our free training and webinars available to tourism businesses across Scotland. Our calendar of virtual industry events is updated with all upcoming VisitScotland and partner events, which you can browse by region.

Our latest webinar series

Scotland Reconnect

Several hundred Scottish tourism businesses will have the chance to connect and do business with tour operators and travel agents from around the globe. Scotland Reconnect 2021, our digital trade workshop event, is now open for registration for trade-ready Scottish tourism businesses. Register your space today.

Scotland reconnect banner

Regional content update

Blog images

Our marketing team is constantly creating new content for, our consumer facing website. As well as new content we also edit our blogs, pages and articles with any new updates, we add subtitles and we transcribe them for languages.

Here's some of our latest content featuring Edinburgh:

Scottish Thistle Awards announcement

Due to the continued pressure and uncertainty that Scotland’s tourism and events industry faces, it's with regret that we, in collaboration with Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards (HITA), Aberdeen City & Shire Tourism Awards (ACSTA) and the industry panel, have taken the decision to cancel this year’s programme of Scottish Thistle Awards.

Nominations and entries for the 2021/22 Scottish Thistle Awards, which celebrate success, innovation, excellence and best practice in the tourism and hospitality industry, were due to open in the coming weeks.

We'll keep you informed of plans for the re-starting of these events and we will look forward to having the opportunity to give our industry the recognition it deserves at future Scottish Thistle Awards. 

Thistles trophy

Burns&Beyond Festival

Burns&Beyond, Edinburgh’s flagship Burns Festival made a surprise return to Edinburgh to spread 'Love, Hope and Kindness' with the Scottish premiere of Yvette Mattern’s spectacular work of art, Global Rainbow, which lit up the skies above the capital.

Originally scheduled for late-January as part of the capital’s Burns Night celebrations, but postponed due to lockdown restrictions, this stunning light installation was visible across the skies over the north of the city, with organisers Unique Events calling upon Edinburgh’s residents to view it responsibly.

We have wonderful images from the event available in our Digital Media Library for you to use in your newsletters or social media.

Burns&Beyond 2019

Lothian's Facebook group

We have over 500 members of the tourism industry in our Lothian’s Facebook group. if you haven’t already, why not join us?

It’s a great way to keep us updated with your latest news, offers and a way to keep up to date with all things tourism in Edinburgh, Midlothian, East Lothian and West Lothian, as well as national news.