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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 12/04/2024

Global travel continues to grow post-pandemic, and the return of international markets to Scotland has been very much in evidence. Visitors from the US have made a strong return to Scotland ahead of other areas of the UK and, with restrictions removed and more flights returning, we hear further reports of growing leisure travel demand from the Chinese and even the Australian markets.

It has been great to see Scottish tourism businesses keen to take advantage of these higher spending long haul visitors in particular, and increasingly recognising working with the travel trade as a way to access the opportunity. In fact 64% of international visitors to Britain use travel intermediaries to plan and book their package. And among long-haul travellers it’s as much as 73%, so working with travel intermediaries can be a very targeted and lucrative way to get your Scottish tourism offering out into market.

Travel intermediaries take various forms - be that tour operators or DMCs, traditional retail or online travel agents, even airlines’ own vacation companies - and they can operate very differently in different markets. But pick the right ones to work with and the benefits can go beyond higher yield visitors, to also helping you be more targeted in the ones you attract and in managing the flow of visitors how and when you want them.

Our Intermediary Marketing team works hard year-round to understand that complicated intermediary landscape, and to identify those operators, who we hope will have the best fit for Scotland and Scottish tourism businesses.  This week in Aberdeen, we'll be welcoming 250 of them to our annual flagship travel trade event, VisitScotland Connect.

Vicki Miller meeting Shetland suppliers at VisitScotland Connect 2023.
Vicki Miller meeting Shetland suppliers at VisitScotland Connect 2023.

These global travel trade ‘buyers’ from 23 countries, including North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific and the UK domestic market have already begun arriving in Scotland, and over the 2 days of the event will each undertake a busy diary of pre-arranged meetings with the 220 Scottish tourism businesses taking part.

It’s a chance for our industry to showcase their latest products and services to the travel trade and hopefully sign contracts for, not just 2024, but 2025 and 2026 too.

All the signs are it’s going to be a very productive week for those attending.

We’ll also be giving our buyers a real taste of Scotland while they are here, both at the venue and out and about across the country on a specially curated programme of familiarisation trips (fam trips) to showcase the best of Scotland’s tourism offering across 200 businesses right across the regions.

As their clients begin to express greater interest in travel experiences which are more meaningful and responsible, our giving these buyers first-hand experience of the kind of authentic, local and immersive experiences Scotland can offer is an important way of helping to evolve and develop how Scotland is seen and sold around the globe.

Vicki Miller at VisitScotland Connect 2023
Vicki Miller presenting at VisitScotland Connect 2023

Developing responsible tourism is an integral focus of VisitScotland Connect, and that extends to the venue too, with P&J Live one of the most sustainable venues of its kind in the UK. Everything we need to support the event is on-site reducing the need for additional travel to and from P&J Live, and we are encouraging public transport use with Stagecoach and CityLink bus services and the rail network.

We’ve been working with businesses ahead of the event on how to shape and present their offering, how to demonstrate their fit and the journey they are on to delivering sustainable tourism options. Whether for them that means offering a lower carbon option, enhanced seasonality, use of local produce and supporting local communities, the conversations they have this week will, for sure, be helping shape Scotland’s image abroad. And helping the industry move towards our shared goal of Scotland as a responsible 21st Century destination.

Good luck for a successful VisitScotland Connect for all involved!

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