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Article published 11/05/2023

Introduction from Chris Taylor

Welcome to our latest regional update of the year 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 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.  

The following is a round-up of some of our activity in the Highlands in recent months. 

Chris Taylor, Destination Development Director for the Highlands

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 which attended to promote the Highlands included:

  • Cairngorm Mountain
  • Dundreggan Rewilding Centre
  • Nevis Range Development Company
  • Rothiemurchus Estate.

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.     

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.

Read more about the success of VisitScotland Connect 2023


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. 

VisitScotland Connect 2023 at the P&J Live, Aberdeen

Marketing and campaign activity

  • Spirit of the Highlands and Islands


    The Highlands was included in all global campaigns, including:

    • UK paid social media campaign for spring 2023, which generated 35.3 million impressions, 5.1 million video views and over 79,400 clicks from content promoted across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and video ads. 
      Take a look at our video content, used as part of these advertisements: our area prominently featured in our "Discover", "Connection", and "Adventure" short films. 
    • An e-newsetter dedicated to the Spirit of the Highlands and Islands campaign, which reaches over 1.2 million consumers across a domestic and international audience.
    • We invited popular Scottish influencer Scotland Uncovered to visit Badenoch and the Cairngorms National Park to showcase the natural and cultural heritage. Locations featured included Highland Folk Museum, the Shinty trail (and the Kingussie Shinty team), Ruthven Barracks, Dalwhinnie Distillery, Strathspey Storywalks, Laggan Wolftrax, Spirit of the Spey and more. 
    • As part of VisitScotland Connect 2023, we created a dedicated Spirit fam trip. This showcased the Highlands to 10 high profile international tour operators and took them to locations such as Brora, East Sutherland, Inverness, Beauly and the Cairngorms National Park.
  • Scotland is Calling phase four


    Scotland is Calling is our international, multi-million pound global marketing campaign. It aims to bolster the recovery of Scotland’s valuable tourism and events industry by encouraging younger visitors to make Scotland their top travel choice.

    Phase four activity took place between September 2022 – March 2023, and included content from the Highlands.

    Our paid media activity included a video featuring the Highlands, to drive destination awareness to new younger audiences. We supported this by influencer marketing, PR, social media (Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest) and VisitScotland channels. It also included intermediary and business-to-business content. 

    Campaign results include:

    • For UK audiences across Instagram, TikTok and Teads between February – March 2023: 1.9 million video views and over 12,400 clicks
    • For US audiences across Instagram, TikTok, SnapChat and Connected TV between January – March 2023: 8.1 million video views and 58,000 clicks

    Part of this campaign also included a partnership with Expedia. This resulted in:

    • For the UK audience between September 2022 - January 2023: 1.5 million impressions, 37,700 room nights booked, 587 air tickets booked, $5 million in gross bookings
    • For the US audience between October 2022 – March 2023: 3.5 million impressions, 5,459 room nights booked, 796 air tickets booked, $2.1 million in gross bookings.

Social media statistics

154 posts

of the Highlands on our social channels

20.4 million

reached through Moray Speyside content across all channels

1 million

engaged with Highland content online

Global PR activity

Scotland. Made for Cycling.

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. The event includes the Mountain Bike Downhill Championships, which will take place in Fort William from 3 - 5 August 2023.

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. 

Find out more

We're encouraging our partners, and tourism businesses across Scotland, to help promote the event as well as celebrate the #PowerOfTheBike. 

Scotland and UK media

Our corporate PR team work closely with Scottish and UK media to raise awareness of our work to promote the Highlands to visitors, the value of tourism and how we offer support for the industry. Some of the most recent highlights include: 

Highlands on

Blogs are a way to reach potential visitors to the Highland through a range of targeted online content, which matches experiences visitors are searching for. Be sure to share them across your social channels to inspire your future visitors.

The following are some of the new content featuring the region:

Regional partner update

The inaugural SCOTO – Scottish Community Tourism Gathering took place on the 2 March. Caitlin McLeod, Regional Development Executive, attended and was able to lead a short workshop discussing how community enterprises, and those running local tourism experiences, could work with VisitScotland. Learn more about SCOTO on

Venture North (Destination Management Organisation for Caithness & Sutherland) held their Tourism Gathering on 7 March with the theme: “the power of collaboration and working together”. Our Destination Development Director, Chris Taylor, presented an update on the latest news and campaigns.

Building on the success of last year, Lochaber Chamber of Commerce held their Tourism Roadshow again from 14 - 15 March. Caitlin McLeod and Cassie McEwan, Industry Relationship Manager, joined key industry partners in Fort William, Strontian and Ballachulish, and discussed local tourism with a range of businesses and community members. 

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