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 VisitScotland.org 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.
Discover Scotland Live Showcase
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.
Spirit of the Highlands and Islands
In June, we announced that we're part of a new partnership campaign, Spirit of the Highlands and Islands, which focuses on promoting the outstanding natural and cultural beauty of the Highlands and Islands.
Working with High Life Highland, responsible tourism is at the heart of this campaign - which seeks to encourage visitors to enjoy the more rural areas of the Highlands and Islands in a way that's respectful to the natural environment.
Keep your eyes peeled for the marketing campaign which will launch in autumn 2022.
We ran a £10,000 marketing campaign in partnership with Loganair to promote the Inverness and encourage bookings for spring. The activity ran from March - April across digital channels, including paid social media, to inspiring future visitors.
We created two promotional videos, a dedicated website landing page and the LoganAir Inverness booking page. The campaign delivered 8.6 million impressions and 1.1 million video views.
Winter Wonder in the Highlands
At the start of the year, we worked with the Highland Tourism Partnership to launch a £17,500 campaign to raise the profile of the Highlands as a winter destination and inspire visitors to explore the region off-season for a short break or longer holiday. Our aim was to extend the tourism season and generate economic benefit during this time.
The digital media campaign generated 10.2 million impressions, 222,000 video views, more than 15,000 clicks and a reach of 3.7 million.
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 phase of activity in response to consumer research, and made emotional drivers a key focus of our content.
Take a look at our new campaign film - which is also a great one to share across your own social media channels.
- Ideat Magazine published a long-form piece about Scotland as a great destination to discover by train, going from one stunning location to another, which included Cairngorm National Park.
- ARTE, the French-German culture TV channel, aired a fantastic documentary about the Isle of Rum, shining a light on this lesser- known remote island with its stunning landscapes and welcoming, creative residents. Watch the episode here.
- US television presenter Lindsay Myers who was looking to feature Scotland on an upcoming travel segment for Access Hollywood, a TV show which averages over 1.4 million daily viewers. Lindsay came to Scotland for five days, including the Highlands, before the release of Outlander season six as a hook to inspire a trip to Scotland.
- The China PR team secured three pieces of coverage in key consumer publications Traveler, Wallpaper and Travelling Scope - which have a combined reach of 1.4 million. There is a lot of pent- up demand for travel in China and therefore a lot of competition between destinations to attract the first group of travellers.Themes in the pieces included whisky, North Coast 500, the great outdoors and escaping to Scotland, alongside stunning imagery – all important travel motivators for city-based travellers in China.
- In an article by the UK Times, the Highlands was featured in an article on dog-friendly holiday. The piece mentioned locations such as Loch an Eilein, Rothiemurcus and Tom's Lodge self-catering
- Traveller Magazine China devoted two full pages to Scotland's delicacies and famous restaurants, including stories of restaurants sourcing local produces, creative cuisines inspired by traditional and modern recipes, and local markets in the print magazine. This included content covering Moray Speyside and Aberdeenshire - and reached a circulation of more than 486,000
- Two articles celebrating World Whisky Day published for the Chinese market, highlighting Speyside as the home of more than half of Scotland's whisky distilleries - and inviting readers to explore The Malt Whisky Trail as a must-do while in Scotland, emphasising the spectacular scenery from the Cairngorms to the Moray Firth coast. It also featured Dornoch Whisky Festival and the new Arbikie Distillery
- The Highlands featured in Channel 5's "World Most Scenic Railways," in Season 6, Episode 1 which is narrated by Bill Nighy. Watch the episode in full on Channel5.com
- The North America PR Team secure coverage for a piece on Scotland and the Outlander Effect in The New York Times online, which has a reach of 43.4 million. The lengthy article features TV-inspired travel itineraries and data figures, with the writer highlighting the impressive increase in Outlander viewership and Starz subscribers, largely attributed to a jump in lockdown viewers. The feature also includes additional mentions locations such as Midhope Castle in Glencoe and Inverness Tours
- We supported Danish journalist Brian Schaefer Dreyer on a trip to Inverness, which included a day trip to Loch Ness. From that trip he published a number of articles in May, including a print feature in newspaper Jysk Fynske Medier and two online pieces
- We supported a visit from French TV channel, TF1 channel (which has a reach of 6 million) when they came on a press visit to the Highlands to do a broadcast on Loch Ness
- In early spring 2022, we hosted a journalist from Le Telegramme to travel across the Highlands. His article, L’Écosse, côté îles, was published in June in the print and online version of the newspaper. Take a look at the online article.
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.