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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 24/05/2023

Introduction from Cheryl Chapman

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 2023 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.

I was delighted to attend the Hoy on Hoy event in April, when Sir Chris Hoy cut the ribbon on the Scapa Flow Museum at its official opening. The event was funded from the Cycling World Championship Community Fund. Cyclists were out in force, there was a family ride and it was fantastic to see such an excellent turnout. Moments like these are crucial for the legacy of cycling here in Orkney. 

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 some of our activity in Orkney in recent months. 

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.

Businesses representing Orkney included:

  • Destination Orkney 
  • Pentland Ferries 
  • NorthLink Ferries

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 some of the 200 global tour operators, guides and travel agents who attended from 23 countries, including the UK, US, Canada, Europe, China, and Asia Pacific. 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. 

Read more about Connect

Marketing and campaign activity

  • Spirit of the Highlands and Islands

    Orkney was included in all global campaigns, including:

    • UK paid social media campaign for spring 2023. This generated 35.3 million impressions, 5.1 million video views and over 79,400 clicks from content promoted across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and video adverts. 
    • Our e-newsletter dedicated to the Spirit of the Highlands and Islands campaign, included a spotlight on Orkney. It reached over 1.2 million consumers across a domestic and international audience.
    • A broadcast campaign in March using voluntourism as a hook to create interest about the Highlands and Islands. This generated 18 items of coverage across Scotland and UK broadcast outlets including BBC Radio Scotland and BBC Somerset.  
    • A press trip for the UK Mail Online from14-19 March focused on off-season travel to Orkney. The hook for this visit was Kirkwall's recent accolade as "the most welcoming place in Britain." Locations visited by the journalist included Kirkwall Hotel, Lizzie's Orkney Tours and Kirkwall Walking Tour. Take a look at the resulting article online. 
  • 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 Orkney.

    Our paid media activity included video content featuring Orkney to drive destination awareness to new younger audiences. We supported this by influencer marketing, PR, social media (Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest) and our own 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
    • 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:

    • 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
    • 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

over 314,900

reached via best performing Orkney post featuring the northern lights

2 million

reached through Orkney content across all channels


engaged with Orkney content online

Scotland and international media

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

  • An opinion editorial (op-ed) from Cheryl Chapman was issued to Orkney media about the tourism season ahead and the highlights for Orkney. It was covered by The Orcadian and the Orkney News. Read Cheryl's op-ed today.

  • Cheryl did an interview with Peter Neville-Hadley who was preparing a piece for Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post on dark skies tourism. She spoke to him about the importance of a dark sky listing to North Ronaldsay, the origin of the idea of getting it listed, and what results there may have been.  

  • Cheryl wrote an article for The Islander magazine (published by The Orcadian) encouraging visitors to take ‘the path less trod’ and visit smaller attractions out-with the typical holiday season. 

  • Quote provided to The Orcadian in response to an enquiry about alcohol advertising legislation. 

Yesnaby Cliffs, Orkney

New Orkney features on

Blogs are a way to reach potential visitors to Orkney 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.

Here's some of the new content featuring Orkney:

Related links