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Article published 14/02/2024

Our intermediary marketing teams are busy with a programme of activity throughout the autumn and winter months.

We’re working to drive business to Scotland through 2024, 2025 and beyond. To do so, we collaborate with Scottish businesses and global tour operators. This builds connections and supports the development of new tour programmes.

In line with increasing demand, an important focus of this work is to support tour operators and travel advisors to increase the seasonal spread in the programmes that they offer their clients.

We introduce them to businesses who provide the experiences their clients want during Scotland's autumn and winter months.

Read about our recent activity and about travel trade events coming up in early 2024. Discover opportunities for your business to get involved in generating business via the travel trade.

USTOA annual conference

The USTOA conference is a premier opportunity to meet with senior representatives of some of the largest and most influential tour operators in the United States. The conference took place in Los Angeles from 2 till 7 December 2023.

Participating tour operators serve a wide variety of consumers, offering a mix of:

  • group tours
  • study tours
  • self-drive holidays
  • chauffeur drive holidays
  • outdoor holidays
  • active holidays
  • rail travel

Demand for travel from US vacation seekers to the UK and Europe remains high through 2024 and 2025. And tour operators are keen to further develop their tour programmes in Scotland.

 

Two of our Market Development Managers along with two other industry representatives at USTOA

Two of our Market Development Managers along with two other industry representatives at USTOA

They want to remain competitive. In seeking to enhance their itineraries they look to us to provide suggestions on new products and experiences. These include those off-the-beaten-path, unique-to-Scotland, authentic experiences that many of their clients seek.

This presents opportunities for  tourism businesses delivering:

  • accommodation 
  • attractions 
  • transport options 
  • outdoor, activity and nature experiences 
  • local food and drink options 
  • working farms 
  • tourism businesses offering an opportunity to connect to locals and communities

US operators are also interested in extending the seasonality of their tour programmes beyond the summer months. This includes programmes in early spring / late autumn, as well as year-round options.

World Travel Market

World Travel Market (WTM) is one of the world’s biggest business-to-business trade events. Participants can engage with domestic and international buyers and sellers from every sector of the industry.

The event took place in London from 6 till 8 November 2023.

We attended the event, exhibiting alongside 10 businesses showcasing their Scottish tourism offerings. We met with key global tour operators, destination management companies and wholesalers from around the globe.

Demand for travel in 2024 and 2025 continues to grow for both group and Free Independent Traveller (FIT) operators.

Long haul markets, such as North America, Australia, and India, are looking for once-in-a-lifetime experiences. And for multi-destination operators, Scotland is a destination in demand.

Their clients continue to demand unique, authentic experiences. Operators are therefore looking to deliver more personal, memorable experiences that their clients are prepared to pay a premium for.

Buyers are seeking to enhance itineraries with:

  • exclusive, high-end offerings
  • castle stays
  • distillery visits
  • nature and outdoor activities
  • visiting lesser-known areas

Building a sustainable and responsible future for travel was a key talking point during the live panel discussions. These discussions are a valuable focus of the World Travel Market event. This was reflected in meetings with more buyers keen to develop sustainable programme alternatives, such as:

  • rail tours for groups and individuals
  • activities involving e-bikes and electric vehicles

There is an increased demand for Scotland and travellers’ desire to avoid the most crowded periods. This means that there was a great interest in:

  • winter travel
  • events, attractions, and experiences available throughout the year

 

The VisitScotland delegation at the World Travel Market

The VisitScotland delegation at the World Travel Market

International Golf Travel Market

This is an ideal event to meet international golf travel professionals keen to engage with Scotland as the home of golf.

It provides an opportunity for Scottish tourism businesses to:

  • gather insights into the global golf market
  • establish relationships with new and existing golf tour operators

The event took place in Lisbon from 16 till 19 October.

VisitScotland and partners hosted a drinks reception, which offered the opportunity to network and promote the upcoming Scottish Golf Tourism Week in March 2024.

 

The VisitScotland delegation at the International Golf Travel Market

The VisitScotland delegation at the International Golf Travel Market

Key takeaways from the event

  • More expensive destination

    Scotland is still in high demand even though it's seen as an expensive destination. Portugal, Spain, Morocco and South Africa are cited as cheaper destinations.

  • Appetite for unknown gems

    There's an appetite among most operators to promote (and learn more about) lesser-known regions with good quality golf courses. These regions include Aberdeenshire and Angus.

  • Destination management support

    Most golf operators engage with Scottish-based destination management companies. This gives them the support for things like accommodation or tee times.

  • Seasonality

    There's an opportunity to extend the season to autumn through golf operators who have been working with Scotland for a while. They are now looking to book as late as October due to increased availability on courses and with accommodation.

Upcoming travel trade events in 2024

The following is a selection of events that our representatives will be attending in early 2024.

Browse a longer list of upcoming travel trade events.

  • ITB Berlin (5 - 7 March)

    Taking place in Berlin, this is the world’s largest travel trade show. It offers opportunities for meetings with German and international travel trade.

    It's ideal for businesses already established or wanting to expand their offering in the German market.

    Read more about the event.

  • Scottish Golf Tourism Week (19 - 21 March)

    A unique platform for businesses in Scotland to engage with international inbound golf tour operators.

    It consists of face-to-face appointments, familiarisation trips, and nightly networking sessions. In 2024 the event will take place in Inverness.

    Read more about the event.

Autumn and winter travel trade events

We also attended the following travel trade events in the last half year:

  • Delta Vacations University (United States) 29 - 30 September 2023
  • IFTM Top Resa (France) 3 - 5 October 2023
  • TTG Travel Experience (Italy) 11 - 12 October 2023
  • Global European Marketplace (ETOA) (London) 3 November 2023
  • ETOA European Travel Marketplace Asia Pacific (online) 21 November 2023
  • ETOA VIVA (online) 23 November 2023

 

 

  • Vakantiebeurs (Netherlands) 10 January 2024
  • VisitBritain Destination Britain (London) 25 January 2024
  • ETOA Britain and Ireland Marketplace (London) 26 January 2024
  • Coach Tourism Association Conference & Workshop 2024 (Newcastle) 28 - 30 January 2024
  • VisitBritain Nordics Workshop (Sweden), 7 - 8 February 2024

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