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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 14/10/2022

Regional Director, Neil Christison, VisitScotland 

It has been fantastic to see the return of domestic and international visitors to our region over the summer months with events like the Unexpected Gardens’ ‘Floating Garden’ which toured the Forth and Clyde Canal, and the Union Canal before docking at The Helix in Falkirk until September 2022. Falkirk Community Trust reported their best visitor year ever for the Kelpies with 930, 000 visitors, the highest total on record, exceeding pre-COVID levels which is positive to hear.

As we approach the autumn and winter season, we will continue to work with partners in our tourism and events industry on promoting activity that extends the season and ensuring Scotland and Forth Valley remains front of mind for potential visitors.

We’re prioritising activities that will stimulate demand and new bookings for the industry to support its long-term recovery with more details in the update below.

We know that many businesses are facing extremely difficult decisions and are having to consider how they adapt their operations to manage the cost challenges. We would encourage you to visit our industry website for all the latest industry advice, support and guidance and we will bring you news on industry events taking place in the region. 

We also want to take the opportunity to celebrate our tourism and events industry who have worked tirelessly in the past two years. The return of the Scottish Thistle Awards regional finals later this month offers us the chance to do this and I would like to wish all six businesses from the region and everyone shortlisted the very best of luck.

Regional marketing activity

  • Working with Expedia

    Part of our Scotland is Calling activity, we've launched the latest phase of our Expedia partnership running across both the UK and US markets with the aim of boosting bookings through autumn, winter and into spring 2023. Activity includes a bookable landing page on and with a focus on Scotland's cities featuring Stirling. 

  • New blogs featuring Forth Valley

    Take a look at some new content added to featuring Forth Valley:

  • Working with VisitFalkirk

    Funded by VisitFalkirk we're running social media activity promoting short breaks and day trips in Falkirk aimed at those living in Scotland and North England. This activity includes stunning images and a video promoting accommodation that will run until the end of November.

  • Partnership marketing | Museums Gallery Scotland

    Find out how we created an online buzz for museums across Scotland’s cities - including the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum.

  • New UNESCO marketing campaign

    Scotland’s UNESCO Trail is being promoted with the launch of a dedicated VisitScotland marketing campaign. The campaign, aimed at potential visitors from the UK & Ireland, Germany and France, will encourage them to discover more about the country’s 13 place-based designations included in the trail. Frontiers of the Roman Empire, The Antonine Wall is one of the 13 designations included in the Trail.

Forth Valley PR coverage

Corporate PR team 

Our corporate PR team work closely with Scottish and UK media to raise awareness of our work to promote Scotland and Forth Valley to visitors and support for industry. 

Some of the highlights include: 

  • We announced the shortlist for the regional finals in the Scottish Thistle Awards.
  • We highlighted valuable knowledge and insights from iCentres in the region with a press release on local tales and legends shared by staff in Stirling and Aberfoyle for Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022.

Consumer PR team highlights:

  • An online article (reach 2.4 million) featured Stirling using the hook of Stirling being surveyed as the happiest place to live in Scotland in 2021 by Rightmove, the article covers the history, historic sites/monuments, outdoor activities, natural landscape, art and crafts, wildlife and food and drink.
  • The UK team pitched the Argarty Red Kites in Stirling as part of events to enjoy this summer, with coverage in the I. Coverage of Union Canal and Falkirk also featured in the Mailonline.

Scotland's Witch Trail Map

This month (29 September) our corporate and consumer team launched a brand new trail and map exploring Scotland's tales of witchcraft to mark our Year of Stories 2022.

The downloadable guide features 15 locations and will be hosted on alongside a blog taking a deeper dive on the subject and offering even more witchcraft-themed visitor experiences. 

Experiences on the map include the Witchcraft and Wizardry Escape Room in Stirling.

Scottish Thistle Awards | the shortlist

Congratulations to the businesses across Loch Lomond, The Trossachs & Forth Valley that have been shortlisted in the regional Finals of the Scottish Thistle Awards. 

  • In the "Best Bar or Pub" category - Allanwater Brewhouse, Bridge of Allan
  • In the "Best Hotel Experience (under 20 rooms)" category - Old Churches House Dunblane, Stirling
  • In the "Best Visitor Attraction Experience" category - The Helix; Home of the Kelpies, Falkirk
  • In the "Outstanding Cultural Event or Festival" category - Canal Encounters - Falkirk Council, Falkirk
  • In the "Regional Ambassador" category - Steven Campbell, Discover Clackmannanshire
  • In the "Working Together for Tourism" category - The Real Food Cafe, Tyndrum and What Would Mary Do? - Hostelling Scotland, Stirling

Good luck to everyone! 

Browse the 2022 / 2023 Regional Finalists by region on the Scottish Thistles website.

An update from our iCentres

  • Aberfoyle iCentre

    Footfall figures have been steady for the last quarter, our retail and ticket sales are doing well, and we've had some glowing reviews left by our visitors on TripAdvisor and Google.

    The Aberfoyle team visited some of our ticket suppliers recently as part of a familiarisation trip with the Haggis Experience, a trip on Loch Katrine, Stirling Castle, Stirling Old Town Jail and Stirling Distillery. Its been a great way for the team to find out more about what these attractions offer allowing them to provide expert information to our visitors, while building relationships with local businesses. 

  • Stirling iCentre

    The Stirling team were delighted to visit the Stirling Distillery recently as part of a familiarisation trip. The team have been focusing on building relationships with local businesses, and would love to hear from you, so please pop in an introduce yourself!

    Great news for the team the last of the exterior paint work was completed in July, together with the new window decals, signage and the creation of a "shop window" the iCentre is looking fresh and inviting. 

    Please pop in and say hello to the staff! 

Quality in Clackmannanshire

Well done to Slackbrae self-catering - Brucefield Estate, Alloa, Clackmannanshire who have achieved a 5 Star Self Catering Quality Assurance award! 

Find out more about Quality Assurance and let us help you shine!

Short-term let legislation

New Scottish legislation for short-term lets came into effect on 1 March 2022. Learn what the legal requirements for letting a holiday property are, and how the new licensing laws in Scotland will work. Some useful resources:

1. Read more about what this means for you in our advice and guidance page.

2. Find out about Falkirk Council's new short-term lets licensing system on their website.

3. Find out about Clackmannanshire Council's short term let licensing information on their website.