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Article published 22/07/2022

What's included in this update?

Find out about our recent activity to support tourism recovery for Loch Lomond, The Trossachs & Forth Valley. From industry support to new campaigns and PR activity, read on for the latest tourism updates.

Neil Christison, Regional Director, VisitScotland 

Tourism businesses and operators across Forth Valley and beyond are experiencing their first full season without any legal restrictions since 2019. It’s been a difficult time for our industry and while 2022 has brought some degree of optimism, we are still facing local and global challenges.

International visitors are returning but travel issues remain, the cost of living is putting a squeeze on budgets and making the everyday experience for our businesses difficult. 

We’re working hand in hand with partners and our tourism and events industry to rebuild this vital part of Forth Valley’s economy and providing the right support to lead the recovery along with key partners in the region

Our Destination & Sector Marketing Fund has successfully awarded funding to Stirling Council, Visit Falkirk and Discover Clackmannanshire. Their marketing campaign activity has been running throughout 2021 / 22, to ensure Forth Valley and the wider area is front of mind when visitors are choosing a destination.

There is continued momentum driving forward the Forth Valley for Net Zero campaign. Community and industry partners have been working together towards long term and strategic goals of becoming a net zero destination. Acting on climate change will not only reduce costs and build resilience, but it will meet the increasing consumer demand for responsible and sustainably focused businesses.​

There has been significant investment in the region, with two multi-million-pound distilleries. Falkirk Distillery which has recently opened its doors, and Rosebank Distillery is expected to receive its first visitors in early 2023. And in Clackmannanshire, Brucefield Estate, is a new regeneration project with high quality ecologically sustainable accommodation.

Scotland's Year of Stories 2022 will sustain and build upon the momentum of the preceding Themed Years to spotlight, celebrate and promote the wealth of stories inspired by, written or created in Scotland.  

With Forth Valley bursting with incredible stories, there are plenty of opportunities to showcase the area. The Year of Stories is funding hundreds of events, including Silent Cinema: Telling Old Stories, Singing Songs at the Hippodrome in Bo’ness which took place in March, and Tales from the Castle at Stirling Castle. Tales from the Castle sees the landmark opening its gates after hours next autumn and creating an amazing storytelling experience from past to present and the many amazing tales connected to this iconic site.

Falkirk is featured as part of Scotland’s contribution (named Dandelion) to UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, a nationwide programme of creative events and engagement, the Unexpected Gardens project will even include one stunning ‘Floating Garden’ which will tour the Forth and Clyde Canal, and the Union Canal. Consisting of two barges and floating ecosystems, it launched from Glasgow in June, and passed through Bishopbriggs, Kirkintilloch, Auchinstarry, Bonnybridge, Polmont, Linlithgow, Broxburn, Ratho and Edinburgh before docking at the Helix in Falkirk until September 2022.

The impact of tourism spreads far beyond the industry itself - it benefits our economy, our community and our wellbeing. I hope we can all look forward to a more predictable and enjoyable summer period and do remember to contact the local VisitScotland team in Forth Valley where we can provide a range of support and advice to tourism businesses.

Forth Valley Facebook group... coming soon

We're developing a brand-new closed Facebook group for businesses from across Stirling, Falkirk and Clackmannanshire to join.

Currently all three regions have separate groups however we'd like to bring together businesses from across the Forth Valley region to share industry news, successes and advice across the wider region. 

If you're interested in joining this new group, make sure you are signed up to our Tourism Insider newsletter.

Regional marketing activity

Regional paid campaigns

As part of our marketing agreement with Falkirk Council we ran a campaign to encourage visitors to plan a break in Falkirk through the promotion of a new regional video and stunning imagery. The activity ran from March - April and directed people to visitfalkirk.com. 

VisitScotland email marketing 

Our email marketing team continues to issue a programme of email activity to our global customer database across multiple languages. Most recently, these have included a dedicated section on "Beautiful Stirling" and "43 new city spots" which feature the interactive smart screens at Mar Place and Friars Street and Blair Drummond Safari Park. Union Canal and Loch Katrine in the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park featured within our "secret Scotland" section. Callander was mentioned as part of a "country escape from a city break" feature.

direct mail screen grab for Forth Valley

Joint family campaign with ScotRail and Beano

In April 2022, we teamed up with ScotRail and Beano for the first time to promote family holidays and day trips across the country. The two-year campaign aims to use the cross-generational appeal of one of the UK’s best-loved comics and ScotRail’s Kids for a Quid deal, to promote sustainable travel as part of Scottish tourism’s recovery. A special Beano landing page has been created on our consumer site, VisitScotland.com, with Dennis, Gnasher and Minnie highlighting places to visit in each of Scotland’s seven cities - including Stirling.

The campaign will target UK families through digital and print marketing to promote attractions across Scotland. Find out more.

Scotland is Calling

In March 2022, we launched the second phase of our global marketing campaign, Scotland Is Calling. This £8.5 million campaign has been designed to support Scotland's tourism sector recovery, by increasing the momentum to ensure that Scotland is front of mind for visitors as a destination of choice. We re-designed this new activity in response to consumer research, and made emotional drivers a key focus of our content. 

Take a look at this fantastic map to discover Scotland’s hidden gems within The Times and Sunday Times - "Power of Scotland: wonders await north of the border" featuring Loch Lomond, The Trossachs, Stirling and Forth Valley. 

Scotland is Calling map featuring Forth Valley

Find out more about the campaign in our industry guide.

Scotland is Calling

The power of PR

Corporate press activity

Our corporate PR team work closely with Scottish and UK media to raise awareness of our work to promote the region to visitors and support for industry. From January - May 2022 our team’s regional press activity had a total combined reach of 130,000 from 21 articles. Highlights include:

  • Scotland's Year of Stories 2022  
  • Scottish Thistle Awards 
  • Discover Scotland 2022
  • International Women’s Day
  • Season Begins opinion-editorial from Regional Director, Neil Christison
  • Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund

Consumer PR

Our Consumer PR team work closely with publications across the globe to share all that the region has to offer. Here's a few highlights:

  • UK

    Fantastic coverage on Stirling as an alternative city to visit, alongside other cities including Hull and Singapore, in Yorkshire magazine. Reach 187,000. Take a look!

  • Europe

    Our consumer PR team worked with LeFigaro.fr on an article about Scotland's most beautiful Lochs, which featured Lake of Menteith. You can view the coverage online.

  • North America

    • We supported a press trip for PaddlingLife with two journalists kayaking from Glasgow to Edinburgh, stopping along the way at Falkirk, Kirkintilloch and Linlithgow. the article highlghted a "Must see" in Falkirk section - take a look at the article which also signposted to scottishcanals.co.uk.
    • An article in Travel + Leisure promoting - 14 Beautiful Castles in Scotland – included Stirling Castle. Reach over 80 million. 

What's on VisitScotland.com?

An update from your local iCentres

Aberfoyle and Stirling iCentres are enjoying a busy summer season so far, and we've welcomed some new faces to our teams. In Stirling, Elspeth and Jamie have joined us for the season, in Aberfoyle we've welcomed back Sara and Colette who have been with us in previous seasons and Titta who is working across both iCentres, please do pop in to say hello.

The team have some new ticketing suppliers in both iCentres - Stirling Distillery and Haggis Experience - plus the return of some familiar companies Loch Katrine and Historic Environment Scotland. Anyone interested in selling their attraction tickets through the iCentre please get in touch.

We're also delighted to have gained a Gold Award from Green Tourism at both Stirling and Aberfoyle iCentres and have been highlighting National Water Quality Awareness Month (August) with a hints and tips for our visitors. Talking of awards, we're also really delighted as Aberfoyle iCentre was recently awarded a TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice Award for 2022.

We’ve made a few changes at our at Aberfoyle and Stirling iCentres recently. In Aberfoyle we’ve upgraded our signage and installed large-scale graphics to help inspire people to visit locations across the region. We've also worked closely with our colleagues at the national park who produced a large wall map highlighting key activities in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. 

In Stirling we’ve enhanced the exterior of the Old Town Jail with new signage and window art. 

We’d love to work with you, and our iCentres can offer a platform for your business to connect directly with visitors.

Discover Scotland: Reconnect 2022

In April, 14 representatives from Falkirk, Clackmannanshire and Stirling joined us for Discover Scotland: Reconnect 2022 to engage with tour operators, travel advisors and Destination Management Companies representing key global markets, to drive bookings from international visitors once again. 

The event, part of our activity to rebuild international tourism demand and support the country's ambition to be a leading destination for responsible tourism, saw over 324 Scottish businesses engaged with 298 international tour operators and travel agents from 21 global markets. 

If you're interested in joining us at next year’s event, make sure you are signed up to our Tourism Insider newsletter.

Scotland's Year of Stories 2022

Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF)

Managed by VisitScotland on behalf of the Scottish Government, the RTIF was created to improve the quality of the visitor experience in rural parts of Scotland that have faced pressure on their infrastructure due to an increase in visitor numbers.

It aims to reduce the impact of visitor numbers on local communities and facilities and create a more collaborative and sustainable approach to infrastructure provision and long-term maintenance of local facilities for the benefit of communities.

In Round 4, the Doune Tourism Development Phase 2 - Transport Hub was awarded £286,821 to focus on travel infrastructure including a new Travel Hub for private vehicle, mini-bus and bicycle spaces with associated electrical vehicle and cycle charging points, paths and signage linking the proposed Travel Hub with other key attractions.

We're also delighted by the news that Doune Bridge recently received a commendation at the Scottish Design Awards. Well done!​​​​​​ 

For more information, take a look at our dedicated RTIF section on VisitScotland.org.

Working in Tourism featuring Sarah Heward

To support measures to address the continued staffing crisis across Scotland’s tourism industry caused by the impact of COVID-19 and the workforce shortage resulting from Brexit, we created “Working in tourism”.  This campaign includes a series of video case studies showcasing the diverse range of dynamic jobs that are available, told by individuals who work in the sector.

As part of this activity we featured restauranteur, Sarah Heward of The Real Food Cafe in Tyndrum. Take a look and share your stories of working within tourism. #LoveWhatYouDo

Working in Tourism

VisitScotland Destination & Sector Marketing fund

  • Stirling Council

    Funding secured by Stirling Council has been used to promote bookable attractions and experiences across the region. They've taken over the homepage of their website for the duration of the campaign - take a look to find out more. 

  • Visit Falkirk

    The Visit Falkirk team at Falkirk Council, launched a new tourism campaign to encourage visitors to the region with funding from the Destination & Marketing Fund. This includes a new website with interactive itineraries to inform and online videos to inspire. Find out more about the campaign.

  • Discover Clackmannanshire

    This funding secured was used to promote the abundance of high-quality outdoor opportunities for all abilities and accessibilities in Clackmannanshire. This involved the creation of a series of digital itineraries for visitors that will enable people to book active experiences. Take a look at Discover Clackmannanshire website for itineraries and video footage as part of the campaign.