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Article published 14/11/2023

Renewed partnership

Today (Tuesday 14 November), we have signed a renewed Memorandum of Understanding with VisitFlanders, taking forward a joint commitment to responsible destination development. 

Our Chief Executive, Malcolm Roughead and Peter De Wilde, CEO of VisitFlanders marked the occasion at the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh.

The Belgian Region of Flanders is renowned for its commitment to delivering a flourishing destination - one that has positive impacts for economy as well as communities. This agreement is the latest chapter of a collaboration between our two tourism organisations since 2017. 

It reflects the ambition of both to build world-class destinations. A shared strategic focus on delivering tourism as a force for good, considering not just economy but also communities and the environment, underpins the Memorandum of Understanding.

The new agreement provides a practical framework for discussion, insight and exchange in a way that serves the priorities of each destination. 

(L-R) Peter de Wilde, CEO of VisitFlanders and Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland

A long-shared history

Scotland and Flanders have a long-shared history, from Scotland supplying wool to weavers in Medieval times, to Flemish immigrants leaving their mark on the Scots language and place names. Over hundreds of years the relationship between the two destinations has grown through trade, culture, craft, education and diplomacy. In recent years, Flemish artists have regularly performed in Scotland, including at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and there are strong links between universities in both areas. Previous collaboration with VisitFlanders has seen significant areas of achievement, particularly in inclusive tourism and events.

 

 

Scotland benefitted from Flanders' expertise in social tourism, informing the successful development, launch and delivery of the ScotSpirit Breaks, a nationwide initiative that brough together over a hundred industry partners to provide much-needed short breaks for vulnerable and disadvantaged families in Scotland. In return, we lent our globally recognised events expertise - responsible for attracting and delivering world-class cultural and sporting events - towards the creation of Event Flanders. While events and inclusive tourism will remain a part of the refreshed MoU, new and important areas of focus include responsible tourism measurement and evaluation, as well as climate action in tourism.

The two CEOs signed the agreement at the National Galleries of Scotland, which hosts a permanent exhibition of Dutch and Flemish art. Peter de Wilde also visited the new Scottish galleries at the National, which hosts works by Scottish artists who have long had many links with Flanders, reflecting the long-term connections between Scotland and the ‘low countries’.

The first official exchange under the MoU will take place later this month in Glasgow, when members of both organisations will meet following the Host Cities conference to discuss future events strategy, impact measurement, sustainability and possible future collaborations. Flanders has hosted numerous UCI cycling events in the past and Scotland hosted the first edition of the UCI Cycling World Championships this summer. Scotland is also set to host World Athletic Championships in Glasgow next year.

Crowds at the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships Credit: Liam Moss

“Our vision for responsible growth in tourism means looking both inside Scotland and beyond. International partnerships are important. They allow us to not only exchange best practice and learn from others on our tourism priorities but also showcase our work and that of the tourism industry in Scotland.

We are excited to renew and strengthen our collaboration with VisitFlanders with the signing of this Memorandum of Understanding and continue to build on our shared focus that tourism is a force for good delivering benefits for both the economy and communities.”

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive, VisitScotland

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