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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 20/01/2023

Introduction from Chris Taylor

Chris Taylor


Welcome to the first regional update of the year. In this update, we look back at our key activity in the last quarter of 2022.
Our industry continues to adjust to tough new financial circumstances and it is clear that these will continue to impact in the year ahead. But there is much to build on and how we remain committed to doing what we can to support the industry, whether that’s bringing people to Scotland, offering support and guidance to businesses, or creating opportunities for growth and investment.  

Our marketing, funding and business support activities are all aimed at building on these shoots of recovery to support the responsible growth of our industry.  

It 's been a busy period in the Highlands – from the much-anticipated return of the Highland Tourism Conference to the launch of ours film guide - and much more.  

Find out more in the regional update on how all our work is helping to support the ambitions of the national tourism strategy, Scotland Outlook 2030, for Scotland to be a world leader in 21st century tourism

Hear from our iCentres

Our iCentre teams are always ready to give you and your visitors a warm welcome, and to share all the best places to see, visit and experience across the Highlands.

Let's hear from Portree iCentre about what's been happening in the past few months.

Regional Marketing Activity

Let's take a look at some of the regional marketing activity that's taken place between October – December 2022 for the Highlands:


Spirit of the Highlands and Islands

  • Spirit of the Highlands and Islands Campaign

    Spirit of the Highlands and Islands is a £1.6 million project funded by the Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund under NatureScot, and part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The project aims to promoting and protecting the natural and cultural heritage of the Highlands and Islands in the following ways:

    • encouraging people to visit more rural areas
    • grow capacity by encouraging seasonal and geographical spread, and
    • inspiring deeper engagement with the region's distinctive heritage and authentic connections with rural communities
  • Partnership with The Guardian

    As part of the Spirit of the Highlands and Islands campaign, we worked with the Guardian on a £60,000 publishing partnership in October - November. This promoted the hidden gems and unique heritage of the Highlands and Islands in the autumn and winter.

    The Highlands were showcased in some rich content articles covering winter experiences, slow adventures / wildlife, history and ancient kings / wildlife as well as display adverts. 

    The campaign delivered 28,605 unique user views (114% of our target) with the users spending an average of  2 minutes and 52 seconds on the article (achieving almost double of our benchmark).

  • Highland Winter Campaign

    From 26 October - 29 November, we delivered an £18,000 collaborative campaign between 7 destination management organisations (DMO's) across the Highlands. This campaign raised awareness of the Highlands as a winter destination and engaged with potential visitors through a dedicated campaign video. It also included locations and content for the Highlands.

    The activity generated great visibility and achieved: 

    • A total of 3,047,581 ad impressions reaching 1,029,249 unique users 

    • Video adverts reached 288,000 views (exceeding our forecast by 135%) and achieved a great return on investment with a Cost-Per-View (CPV) of £0.04 for 15 seconds

    • 7,255 clicks to our Highland Winter landing page.

Corporate Press Activity

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

Some of the highlights include:    

  •  STV News, the Ross-Shire Journal, John O'Groat Journal, Northern Times and the Press & Journal all covered the return of the Highland Tourism Conference, with interviews with Destination Development Director, Chris Taylor. 

  • Press statement issued to national and regional media supporting National Geographic’s decision to include the Highlands in its ‘Best of the World 2023’ list, in the nature category. Coverage included STV online and Scottish Daily Express 

  • Opinion editorial from Chris Taylor sent to Highland media regarding the tourism industry’s resilience during these challenging operating times. Coverage in the Northern Times and the Highland Times 

  • Press release issued to media about the successful Highland recipients of Rural Tourism Infrastructure Funding in Round 5. Coverage in the Press & Journal 

  • Spirit of the Highland and Islands press release, announcing the launch of consumer campaign resulted in coverage in the Inverness Courier and John O'Groat Journal 

  • The Inverness Courier ran our press release about a marketing campaign with Highland Destination Management Organisations, promoting the area as a winter destination and inspiring visitors to responsibly explore the region.  

  • A press release was issued to Highland media about the launch of our Set in Scotland film guide, with coverage in several regional titles including the Oban Times 

  • Chris Taylor spoke to BBC Radio Scotland about the impact of the Kessock Bridge on tourism in the Highlands. 

Global PR update

Through a range of activity, including our Scotland is Calling campaign, we've promoted the Highlands to a global audience. Here's a breakdown of some of the activity across a variety of global markets:

Global PR

Year of Stories 2022

The end of 2022 has closed the book on the Year of Stories, however there’s a wealth of resources and information on to continue the legacy of the Year.

Recent Year of Stories paid campaign activity between 1 October and 31 December included: 

  • The List Campaign

    A media partnership with The List ran from March to November 2022 to promote the Year of Stories events programme. It included native articles, e-newsletters, display ads and social posts. Events highlighted in October and November included The Northern Stories Festival and Travel in Time, both based in the Highlands. 

  • Year of Stories Community Stories Fund with Reach PLC and Mediaforce

    • events supported were promoted in September and October via two media partnerships.
    • the campaigns included display ads, social media posts and online articles. The partnership with Reach PLC included four articles in the Daily Record
    •  the partnership with Mediaforce published content on the websites of The Scotsman, The Herald, The Aberdeen P&J, The Dundee Courier and Inverness Courier
    • events that were showcased in October for the Highlands included Lost Inverlael Community Ceilidh, Journey to the Isles and St Duchac Book & Arts Festival. 
  • Influencer Marketing

    We worked in partnership with influencer Megan Beaudry took place across October and November through a series of videos promoted through Megan’s Instagram (@megbeaudry) and Tiktok (@megbeaudry) accounts.

    Her activity included a feature of the Glenfinnan Viaduct, which generated 290,000 views.

Partner activity update

Here's some recent news, events and activity from our partners across the Highlands.


  • The Flow Country has recently submitted documentation to the UK Government, who will submit the nomination for World Heritage Status to UNESCO by Wednesday 1 February 2022.

We recently supported a number of partner events throughout the Highlands at the end of 2022. These included:

  • Visit Inverness Loch Ness for their member networking event on 7 November, which was themed around Sustainability. Our Chairman Lord Thurso opened event 

  • Cairngorm Business Partnership Conference on 9 November which discussed the Climate Emergency and current opportunities and challenges. Our CEO, Malcolm Roughead was in attendance 

  • Lochaber Tourism Day which was themed around sustainability for destinations and businesses on 16 November. Our Director of Marketing, Vicki Miller presented

  • SkyeConnect Business Event on 16 November. This event was themed around ‘regroup, reflect, recover’  and Destination Development Director Chris Taylor presented and delivered a networking session. 

The Highlands on social media

More than 10 million

users reached by Highland content across Instagram, TikTok and Facebook

72 posts

generated an engagement of more than 631,000

899,000 users

were reached by our top Highland Instagram post featuring 57 Nord near Dornie

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