Skip to main content
Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 07/07/2022

You'll hear more about the ways we've delivering regionally activity, to further support industry recovery following the pandemic. Find out more about local activity, new marketing campaigns, consumer PR activity, and much more.

Introduction from Chris Taylor, Regional Director for the Highlands

After what has been an incredibly difficult time for the industry, the return of our international visitors is a very welcome sight. I have been encouraged to see North American, French, German and other near neighbours rediscovering the joy of holidaying in the Highlands. At VisitScotland we haven’t stopped in our efforts to rebuild international demand with over 50 Highland businesses at our Discover Scotland Travel Trade Event earlier this year, meeting over 300 international buyers. We continue to showcase the Highlands to markets around the world and across the UK.

Another welcome sight has been the return of in-person events, providing that vital buzz and social interaction we’ve all missed so much. From the events like Sgeul celebrating the Year of Stories in the Highlands and featuring performances by some of Scotland’s most talented traditional and Gaelic musicians, through to major fixtures such as the Mountain Bike World Cup in Fort William, Etape Loch Ness and Surfing Championships in Thurso.   

I am very proud that VisitScotland was the first National Tourist Board to sign Tourism Declares at COP in 2021. Our responsible tourism ethos cuts through everything we do, encouraging visitors to enjoy Scotland responsibly, investing in critical infrastructure, promoting parts of our region with the potential for growth and focusing on quieter times of year.

A total of 29 projects in the Highlands have now been supported by the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund, including the most recent round 4 approvals at Trotternish, Canna, Gairloch, Duisdale and Glen Affric.

We can only do that in partnership with industry. I was delighted that VisitScotland were able to allocate over £750k from our Destination & Sector Marketing Fund to the Highlands to support off-season marketing and responsible tourism campaigns. Destinations in every part of our region have been supported, as well as coming together through the Highland Tourism Partnership to collectively ensure the Highlands is front of mind when visitors are choosing a destination.

The impact of tourism spreads far beyond the industry itself and the benefits to our economy, our community and our wellbeing are vital. There remains major challenges, notably the staffing crisis facing all of us, but am confident we will work together to make the most of the opportunities ahead of us. Our team across the Highlands are here to help you in any way we can. We’d love to hear from you!

Scotland's Year of Stories 2022

Are you sharing your tales of Scotland?

This year, Scotland is celebrating the Year of Stories. This themed year spotlights, celebrates and promotes the wealth of stories inspired by, written, or created in Scotland. From icons of literature to local tales, the year aims to encourage locals and visitors to experience a diversity of voices, take part in events and explore the places, people and cultures connected to all forms of our stories, past and present.

One of our recent articles focuses on the ways DMO's have engaged with the Themed Year so far in 2022. In this article, we've featured Visit Inverness Loch Ness and Venture North for their campaigns and activity so far, and there's more to come. Find out more.

There's lots of information available on to help to make the most of Scotland's Year of Stories 2022. Take a look at our promotional film, industry toolkit, insights papers, funding and events announcements and more.

Scotland's Year of Stories Community Fund Round 2

In June, we announced that 136 additional projects would be supported as part of the Year of Stories, through Round 2 our Year of Stories Fund. Out of a total of 136, 20 of these events are based in the Highlands.

Supported events include:

  • Stories of Nairn by Nairn Book and Arts Festival
  • A Season of Stories by High Life Highland
  • Reels and Recollections by Clan MacPherson Museum Trust
  • Blas Festival 2022 by Fèisean nan Gàidheal
  • Guthan na Tire – Festival of the Land by Ionad Thròndairnis
  • Lost Inverlael - Echoes of the Glen by Ullapool Museum Trust.

Additional activity promoting the awarded events includes:

  • Community Stories Fund event, the Fisherfolk Festival, which takes place in the Ross-shire Seaboard Villages featured in the Year of Stories promotional activity with The List, including an Instagram takeover in April and a native article and Solus newsletter in May
  • Community Stories Fund event Abriachan’s Stories, Seanchaidh And Some Stars featured in the Year of Stories native article with the List in June.
  • Several events in the Highlands were highlighted in the Year of Stories Solus newsletter issued by The List in June, including the Victorian Entertainer Bootcamp event at Highland Museum and Unforgotten Highland Women events organised by Museums and Heritage Highland.

Discover Scotland: Reconnect 2022

In April, Scottish tourism businesses 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, which is 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.

In total, 324 Scottish businesses engaged with 298 international tour operators and travel agents from 21 global markets at the three-day online event earlier this month, including Airts and Pairts, Cruise Loch Ness, Downright Gabbler, Assynt House, Eagle Rock Luxury Highland Guest Lodge, John O Groats Ferries Ltd, Golf Highland, Venture North, Palace Hotel & Spa, Loch Shiel Cruises and Armadale Castle, Gardens and Museum. 

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

Discover Scotland Live Showcase

Drone photography of The Alvie Estate in the Cairngorms, Highland

For the first time this year, Discover Scotland 2022 combined an online business-to-business event, known as Discover Scotland: Reconnect 2022, which took place in April, with regional showcases, known as Discover Scotland: Live Showcase. The first showcase was held in May and the second will follow in September 2022. These showcases focus on the promotion of trade-ready responsible and sustainable Scottish tourism businesses and their products, to key buyers from more than 10 international markets.   

In May, we brought a group of 27 international buyers, who were split into three groups to visit locations, hotels and attractions in the Highlands, Cairngorms and Moray Speyside, over a four-day period. 

Among the countries and territories represented on the trips were Scotland’s key markets – the UK, Canada, the USA, Germany, France, Austria, Spain, Italy the Netherlands and Belgium, as well as the emerging markets of China and Japan. 

The groups visited a number of locations and attractions in the regions, including:

  • Dundreggan Rewilding Centre (Trees for Life)
  • Kingsmills Hotel, Inverness
  • Inverness Marina for a rib boat cruise and wildlife watching with Dolphin Spirit
  • Grant Arms Hotel in Grantown-on-Spey
  • Drumossie Hotel, Inverness
  • Cawdor Castle and
  • Benromach Distillery.  

The groups also toured Speyside Cooperage and Brodie Castle, followed by a tour and lunch at Johnstons of Elgin, then visiting Blervie House near Forres before dinner at the Town House in Inverness. 

Buyers also visited and lunched at the Alvie Estate, had a tour of the Highland Wildlife Park at Kingussie, gin tasting at Kinrara Distillery and dinner at Glenmoriston Town House Hotel. 

Regional Marketing for the Highlands

There's lots going on to promote the Highlands, so let's take a look at some recent campaigns we've been involved with:

Consumer PR

Our Consumer PR team work closely with publications across the globe to share all that Scotland has to offer.

Here's a few examples coverage we've secured in the last three months:

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 our Round 4, 5 out of 11 approved projects were in the Highlands. These projects were:

  • Trotternish Peninsula Visitor Facilities to develop visitor facilities at Kilmuir Village Hall, in north Skye to provide two electric vehicle charging points, eight new parking spaces CWD, and publicly accessible toilets and recycling bins. 
  • Isle of Canna Visitor Facilities to construct a 68 m² building close to Canna Pier and harbour to provide fully accessible modern welfare facilities for the 10,000 - 15,000 annual visitors to Canna. 
  • Gairloch Beach Visitor Facilities to  provide new multi-purpose toilets and a motorhome servicing facility at the main Beach Car Park in Gairloch. to cater for the increasing numbers of visitors and motorhome users
  • Duisdale AIRES to provide five motorhome bays and service point at the An Crùbh the community owned Hub at Duisdale, Sleat, Skye. 
  • Dog Falls, Glen Affric to increase the capacity of Dog Falls car park for larger vehicles, replace toilets, create a new section of path taking visitors off road and restore and upgrade the Dog Falls Bridge. The project will include the provision of cycle infrastructure and four e-bike charge points.