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Article published 11/07/2022

Find out about our recent activity to support recovery for the Outer Hebrides alongside partners. From industry support to new campaigns and PR activity, read on for the latest in Outer Hebrides tourism updates.

 

What's included in this update?

Introduction from Victoria Harvey, Development Manager

"Tourism businesses and operators across the Outer Hebrides and beyond are experiencing their first full season without any legal restrictions since 2019. I am encouraged by the return of the visitors to our islands after what has been an incredibly difficult time for our industry and while 2022 has brought some degree of optimism, we are still facing local and global challenges.

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

It's important to understand the current landscape and how visitors are responding, through initiatives such as the UK Sentiment Tracker. This research offers insight into how UK and Scottish residents are behaving when it comes to travel and shows that the rising costs of living, personal finances and the costs of fuel are affecting people’s habits.

Marketing campaigns by Outer Hebrides Tourism, funded by our Destination & Sector Marketing Fund, have been running through the earlier part of the year, to ensure our islands are front of mind when visitors are choosing a destination.

Another welcome note is the return of in-person events of all sizes, which as well as encouraging visitor numbers also provide that important buzz and social interaction we’ve missed so much. Even as I am writing this sitting above the iCentre in Stornoway we have a town readying to welcome HebCelt revellers, something which we have sorely missed these past few years and I know that this feeling of things returning is echoed across the islands.

In the spring we held our first tourism industry event in a few years, centred on a screening of the Road Dance, the movie adaption of STV news anchor John Mackay’s novel, which was filmed entirely in the Outer Hebrides. This event provided a spotlight for us to celebrate all that screen tourism brings to the islands. We are supporting a number of upcoming events this year through our EventScotland programme and the Year of Stories including An Lanntair’s Seanchas series of activities which take place this week with four storytelling residencies with local stories from Lewis and Harris being gathered and shared throughout rural communities.

Taigh Chearsabhagh on North Uist will feature as one of the 12 “Unexpected Gardens” springing up at community libraries, waterfronts and car parks from April to September, bringing together food, science and musical performances. Commissioned by EventScotland and funded via the Scottish Government, they are part of Dandelion, Scotland’s contribution to UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, a series of nationwide creative events and engagement. Plus, there was a return of HebCelt, the very first Outer Hebrides Wildlife Festival in June and Ceòlas Summer School has just wrapped up in their new building in Cnoc Soilleir.

The impact of tourism spreads far beyond the industry itself and responsible tourism remains at the fore - 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 Outer Hebrides where we can provide a range of support and advice to tourism businesses. We would love to hear from you."

A view over Stornoway harbour to the colourful tents of the Hebridean Celtic Festival
A view over Stornoway harbour to the colourful tents of the Hebridean Celtic Festival
Image credit Hebridean Celtic Festival / Colin Cameron

Discover Scotland: Reconnect 2022

Scottish tourism businesses engaged directly with tour operators, travel advisors and Destination Management Companies representing key global markets, to drive bookings from visitors from abroad once again. 

Discover Scotland: Reconnect 2022 is part of our activity to rebuild international tourism demand, as well as supporting the country’s ambitions to be a leading destination for responsible tourism. 

Exhibitors from the Outer Hebrides included Cala Hotels and Hebridean Adventures.

In all, 324 Scottish businesses engaged with 298 international tour operators and travel agents from 21 global markets at the three-day online event from 5 - 7 April. 

4,455 meetings were facilitated on the virtual platform through 1-2-1 meetings, highlighting the best of Scotland’s responsible tourism products. 

Scotland's Year of Stories 2022

This year, Scotland is celebrating Scotland's 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. 

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, and what events are taking place across the year.

  • Year of Stories Funded Events Programme

    As part of our Open Funded events programme, Seanachas (the gaelic word meaning conversation, lore, storytelling, saga and anecdote) is a series of events, films, and special commissions celebrating tales from the Hebrides, both real and imagined, modern and ancient. The series, organised by An Lanntair, was highlighted as part of a Year of Stories radio campaign on Bauer radio and was featured in promotional activity with The List, including an instagram takeover and an article featured on their website.

     

    Through our Community Stories Fund, some of the events taking place include:

    • Sgeulaichean Siarach: In April, this event celebrated the myths and stories associated with the west side of Lewis. During environmental walks, elders shared their rich cultural and linguistic heritage with local children who these stories as inspiration in creative workshops. The children's take on these stories will be shared through two live performances. 
    • Object Stories: Cothram Ltd is offering 4 writing workshops in the Western Isles with 2 in Gaelic and 2 in English. Inspired by objects that workshop participants value, the stories written during the workshops will be published in a small book which will be launched during Book Week Scotland and available to buy at ReStore.
    • Ri tac an teine: Between August and November, four Gaelic events will be held at the Ness Historical Society museum / Comunn Eachdraidh Nis, and will include two spooky tales from North Lewis, tales from local BBC reporters about stories that are forgettable to them and 'confessions of a school teacher' with former teachers telling tales from their careers on Lewis
  • Get involved with help from our marketing toolkit

    Take a look at our Year of Stories 2022 marketing toolkit for information about this Themed Year for 2022 and how you can get involved, including key themes and access to our Year of Stories 2022 industry webinar.

Promoting the Outer Hebrides to the world

Consumer PR

Our Consumer PR team work closely with publications across the globe to share all that Scotland has to offer. Here is a few examples of coverage the Outer Hebrides has received recently:

  • The Outer Hebrides was featured in coverage by TTG China in April, highlighting the region as a must-visit destination for watersports.
  • Over in the US, Travel + Leisure spotlighted Scarista Beach as one of 18 best beaches to visit in the UK and St Kilda was mentioned by AFAR in a feature on best international trips for wildlife lovers.
  • AFAR also gave a shoutout to the Isle of Harris Distillery, North Uist Distillery and Downpour Gin as part of a week-Long tour itinerary for Scotland's best distilleries. 
  • To promote Scotland to the French market, our team worked with a journalist from Routard.com, which has a reach of 4 million, on a special Scottish islands piece featuring the Lewis and Harris in the Outer Hebrides. 
  • The team also hosted a virtual media event which resulted in a great article in Lonely Planet France with a reach of 150,000, which mentioned St. Kilda as part of Scotland's UNESCO trail.

 

VisitScotland.com

Our consumer website also regularly features blogs showcasing what our different regions have to offer and are a great resource to share on your own marketing channels too. Take a look at some of our recent content: 

The Calanais Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis
The Calanais Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis

Corporate Communications

Our Corporate Communications team works to ensure that tourism is seen as Scotland's most important industry through regular communication and PR activity with media and the tourism industry. Have a look at some of our recent press coverage and corporate website updates.

Press activity 

From January 2022 to May 2022, our Corporate Communications team’s regional press activity had a total combined reach of 20,000 from 10 articles.

Among the coverage, featured stories included:

  • Scotland's Year of Scotland’s Stories  
  • Scottish Thistle Awards 
  • Discover Scotland 2022
  • The Road Dance film screening event
  • "Season begins" opinion-editorial from Victoria Harvey

Outer Hebrides Tourism - Keep up to date with the new noticeboard

Outer Hebrides Tourism has launched a weekly update on their website for visitors including up to date information on ferry status', last minute accommodation availability and information on local transport timetables. Visitors can also find out about upcoming events and the latest local news.

Visit the Outer Hebrides Tourism website to see the new noticeboard

Related links