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Article published 18/05/2023

Introduction from David Jackson, Regional Director

Welcome to our latest regional update where we look back at our key activity for the first quarter of 2023 between January and March. There are many challenges still facing our industry but at the start of our traditional tourism season in Scotland, we want to remind those in tourism and events of how far we have come, and the opportunities that lie ahead.  

It was fantastic to be able to celebrate the hard work, passion and commitment within tourism and events at the National Final of the Scottish Thistle Awards in February – and of course, to see three incredible Aberdeenshire businesses come home with awards. And with the countdown to the UCI Cycling World Championships taking place this summer firmly on, we launched a cycling industry toolkit to help support businesses to make the most of the opportunity and further develop Scottish cycling tourism.  

Scottish Tourism Month in March presented the opportunity to celebrate our achievements and for the industry to come together at events throughout the region to share learnings, best practice, and ideas for future collaboration.  

Here’s a round-up of recent activity in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire over recent months. 

David Jackson, Regional Director of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire

VisitScotland Connect 2023

A very successful VisitScotland Connect was held in Aberdeen last month during our first in-person international travel trade event since the pandemic. Regional tourism businesses from Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire attended, including:

  • The Gordon Highlanders Museum
  • Braemar Castle
  • Maryculter House
  • Dalriada Luxury Lodges

Held at P&J Live, this was the country’s biggest business-to-business event for the travel trade and gave Scottish businesses and destination management companies the chance to connect with key buyers from around the globe to help attract visitors and grow Scotland’s valuable tourism and events industry sustainably.     

Around 175 tourism businesses met with more than 250 global tour operators, guides and travel agents who attended from 23 countries, including the UK, US, Canada, Europe, China, and Asia Pacific.

Over 6,000 meetings were held, as well as a programme of day and evening networking opportunities. While in Scotland, these international buyers also sampled some of our country’s famous hospitality, produce, and attractions through a series of familiarisation (fam) trips.    

Since the pandemic, visitors have been seeking extra reassurance and guidance offered by agents or businesses that facilitate connections between tourism suppliers and consumers, such as tour operators, travel agents and destination marketing organisations. More than half of international visitors use such travel intermediaries to plan and book.      

VisitScotland Connect forms a key part of our marketing strategy with travel intermediaries to bring visitors to Scotland throughout the year.   

Time to gear up

To help industry prepare for the upcoming UCI Cycling World Championships 2023, we've created an industry guide full of information and resources to help businesses get up to speed on all things cycling. 

This will be the single biggest cycling event in history, bringing together for the first time 13 existing UCI World Championships into one mega-event. We're encouraging our partners, and tourism businesses across Scotland, to help promote the event as well as celebrate the #PowerOfTheBike.

We want to help you make the most of Scotland's cycling product, and help Scotland further grow its cycling tourism market and establish itself as a world-class cycling destination.

Take a look at our new industry guide. 

Visit our guide

Scotland. Made for cycling.

Global PR


In February, following a UK media pitch of Scottish locations to get off the beaten track, The Times included Glen Dye in the article "20 great UK escapes to get off the beaten track." 

The Times has a combined estimated reach of more than 700,000 readers for online and print publications. 

Emerging markets

Three journalists from Hong Kong visited Aberdeenshire and the Highlands including Aberdeen, Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven, Balmoral Castle, Albert’s Pyramid, The Chester Hotel, the Albyn, Malmaison Aberdeen.

Take a look at AM730's first online article focused on Dunnottar Castle. The remaining coverage is expected in May 2023.

Chinese news site featured Balmoral Castle, and Dunnottar Castle in an article about castles with postcard-like sceneries. The site has a reach of more than 626,688. 

Scotland and UK media

We work closely with Scottish and UK media to raise awareness of our work to promote Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire to visitors, and how we offer support for the industry. Some of the most recent highlights include:  

  • press release about how projects to improve the visitor experience at two Aberdeenshire locations using Rural Tourism Infrastructure Funding (RTIF) have already brought benefit, according to feedback from visitors – coverage in the Press and Journal and Travel PR News

  • as part of Apprenticeship Week, Regional Director David Jackson wrote a LinkedIn blog about selecting tourism as a career of choice

  • an opinion editorial (op-ed) from David Jackson about the season ahead in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire – picked up by The Scotsman and several other regional titles

  • media coverage about our global travel trade workshop VisitScotland Connect appeared in the Press and Journal and a story and soundbite from David was broadcast on Northsound 1 radio

  • we provided a quote from Tracey Beveridge, our Head of Information Services, for inclusion in a press release about Flock to the Show public art trail, as model sheep were situated in both Ballater and Aberdeen iCentres – coverage appeared on Grampian Online and Aberdeen Live 

Hear from our Aberdeen iCentre

Aberdeen iCentre has had a very productive first quarter of 2023.

The South Harbour

Considering the off-season lull in major visitor footfall, the iCentre team has seized the opportunity to prepare for the highly anticipated cruise ship schedule gracing the city with the completion of the South Harbour in May.

Ryan Craig (Assistant iCentre Manager) and David Jackson (Regional Director) attended a briefing session at the South Harbour in February on the Aberdeen cruise schedule. A focus was put on logistics and the expectations of visitor numbers which has since been relayed back to the iCentre team.

VisitAberdeenshire is running a volunteering scheme to meet and greet cruise ship parties disembarking at the South Harbour, and the iCentre has provided a bundle of Aberdeen Street maps to aid with this project, as well as show visitors where the iCentre is located once they step off the buses into the city centre.

VisitScotland Connect

Lynn Harwood and Vera Kezer (Visitor Services Advisors) had the opportunity to assist our events team at the recent VisitScotland Connect travel trade event. This was a fantastic opportunity to join the hustle and bustle of a major, in-person business-to-business (B2B) event.

It has been a great benefit for the iCentre to have team members develop their B2B skills and highlight the iCentre’s services to business groups in attendance at the P&J Live.

Working with the community

During the quieter months, our team has also been developing their external connections through collaborating with high schools, primary schools, and the University of Aberdeen. Schools have been in touch with the iCentre regarding their tourism curriculums and asked if we could assist in any capacity.



iCentre staff have since been attending classes and guest speakers to hold presentations to share what VisitScotland does and the role it provides to Scotland’s economy. For the primary schools, team members have been out to teach children about the best practices in making walking tours.

Aberdeen iCentre continue to grow its connections with the University of Aberdeen by attending the refreshers event held back in January by manning a stall and providing leaflets and literature to returning students.

Aberdeen iCentre Flock to the Show Sheep Trail

The iCentre was treated to taking part in a nationwide art trail organized by the Royal Highland Show. As part of RHS’ World Championships of sheep shearing, The Golden Shears, Aberdeen iCentre played host to the ‘Flock to the Show’ art trail by taking in one of the painted sheep for a fortnight.

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