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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 14/02/2024

Germany is a core international market for Scotland and in our top three for international visitor numbers. By comparison with their European neighbours, Germans are the greatest international travellers and present opportunities for further growth to Scotland.

Slower to recover post-COVID than other European markets, German visitor numbers were up significantly again in 2023. And we expect to exceed pre-COVID visitor spend in 2024. Tour operators continue to flag strong bookings for Scotland in 2024 and high demand for 2025.

Germany is well connected with Scotland. Airline connectivity is increasing, with direct flights to Scotland from eight German cities. New flight connections for 2024 include Stuttgart to Edinburgh . There is also opportunity for schedules to expand in line with demand.

Visitors from Germany can also use the popular ferry option with DFDS Ferries to Newcastle.

The wants and needs of the German market

German visitors enjoy relative proximity and good connectivity. This means that they can travel to Scotland throughout the year. They’re also good repeat travellers and more likely to spread their travels and their spend more widely across Scotland.

Our German visitors are very aware of environmental considerations. This means they're likely to be among those to first embrace businesses’ efforts to deliver more responsible tourism experiences.

Already, we see an increase in German visitors looking for electric charging points and train travel options.

Many German visitors use tour operators to plan and book their itineraries. These operators are looking to support their demands for more:

  • off the beaten track itineraries
  • local food and drink experiences
  • responsible travel options

They are an important way for us to help shape these itineraries.


Our St Andrews day activity at a travel trade event in Berlin

Our St Andrews day activity at a travel trade event in Berlin

Our work with the German market

A core function of our intermediary marketing team is to help grow Scottish tourism by bringing together Scottish tourism businesses and travel intermediaries.

We want to ensure that visitors can find the Scotland experience they’re looking for on the booking channels they prefer to use. Travel intermediaries include destination management companies (DMCs), wholesalers, tour operators and travel agents.

The following is how our work can help you do business in the German market:

  • Identifying the opportunity

    We gather data and insight on the German travel market to understand trends and opportunities for Scottish tourism. These are shared via our:

    • digital communications
    • briefings and webinars for businesses looking to attract German visitors

    Critically, our research extends to identifying those travel intermediaries who present the greatest opportunities for curating the best Scotland offering and taking it to market.  

    We target the operators: 

    • with the best-fit client base 
    • who are open to creating or extending their Scotland programme
    • who are open to developing out of season programmes and 
    • who will actively promote these via their travel agency and sales teams or direct to the German consumer

    We develop long term relationships with these operators. Our aim is to make it easy for them to find and connect with products and experiences.

  • Creating the right product

    German tour operators are looking for accommodation and attractions to help them extend and update their core itineraries.

    They are also very interested to learn more about what’s new and unique on the Scottish tourism landscape. This includes small businesses, new to the market.  

    Their German traveller clients are increasingly asking for experiences that are unique and authentically Scottish. This gives them opportunities to:

    • take them away off the beaten track 
    • actively engage with the Scottish landscape  
    • get involved with local traditions and communities 

    In our ongoing conversations with them, and via online updates, we work to raise operators’ awareness of these new products. 

    We work with Scottish businesses, especially those new to working with the travel trade. We help them become trade-ready and shape their pitch. We help them to be ready to engage with German intermediaries.

  • A focus on responsible tourism

    Our German visitors are open to exploring – and spending – time away from the crowd. They want to enjoy engaging with the locals, experiencing their traditions and local food and drink.  

    Being more environmentally conscious than most, they’re suspicious of "green- washing". They appreciate evidence that Scottish businesses are making efforts to deliver a more responsible tourism experience.

    We support Scottish businesses to:

    • develop their climate action plan
    • encourage them to share their progress and responsible tourism credentials

    With tour operators, we work to raise Scotland’s profile as a responsible tourism destination. We encourage them to:

    • incorporate these options within their programmes
    • offer more sustainable itineraries with reduced emissions and more responsible travel options
  • Making the right connections

    We bring Scottish businesses together with German wholesalers and tour operators. This is done through a programme of activities and events both at home and in Germany.  

    Making contact with intermediaries who make the contracting decisions for German programmes doesn't have to be an expensive business. We do so in the following ways:

    • our travel trade website and enewsletters highlight new products and developments
    • we organise events to introduce businesses to Scotland and London-based destination management companies who contract Scottish business on behalf of major German operators
    • our VisitScotland Connect event brings around 40 German tour operators to Scotland for workshop meetings and familiarisation trips
    • our presence with partners at ITB Berlin provides access to Germany’s top operators at the world’s largest travel trade event
  • Promoting programmes and driving sales

    Sales of operators’ new programmes are optimised if their agency and sales teams are confident to push them. We deliver Scotland destination education and sales training support.

    We also provide marketing assets including content and imagery. And on occasion, we offer specific joint marketing support of target programmes direct to consumers.

Upcoming events for the German market


ITB Berlin (5-7 March 2024)

ITB Berlin is a major travel trade show attended by tour operators, transport (airlines and ferry companies) and media. We'll attend alongside partners to create a UK and Scotland presence within the show. It’s a key opportunity for us to:

  • connect with existing tour operators to extend their programmes to Scotland
  • inspire new operators to include Scotland

We will meet with around 50 tour operators, as well as attending seminars to learn about the latest insights and trends in travel.



VisitScotland Connect (17-18 April 2024)

VisitScotland Connect is our flagship travel trade event and is taking place in Aberdeen. Over 190 Scottish tourism suppliers and 210 global tour operators will be attending these two full days of appointments.

Around 40 German tour operators will attend. We’re working with them to help select appropriate businesses for their appointments.

We also organise a range of familiarisation trips before and after VisitScotland Connect. This way, the operators can experience the Scottish tourism product.


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