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Visit Scotland | Alba

Our industry is facing its biggest ever challenge and we share your concerns for the immediate and longer term. We're here to support during this challenging time and doing everything we can to help in a rapidly evolving environment, including providing industry data and feedback, advice and support.

This page includes information on:

Advice and support

We’re doing everything we can to highlight your issues and get you answers, as well as keeping consumers up to date with information.

To help advise Scottish tourism businesses on the situation we've set up a coronavirus (COVID-19) advice page on VisitScotland.org. This page allows us to pull together advice on how the industry can support current and future visitors with the most up to date information.

We’ve pulled together a frequently asked questions page in conjunction with our colleagues at Scottish Government in response to your queries on COVID-19.

There’s also a page that outlines some best practice advice on what to share on your digital channels (website and social media) during the current and evolving situation.

We have also prepared guidance specifically for event organisers in Scotland in response to the growing concerns in the events industry.

We’ve set up a business advice team, consisting of our experienced Industry Relationship Managers and Quality & Tourism Advisors who can be reached at business.advice@visitscotland.com to help with any questions you have about business operations or marketing at this time.

We're also proactively gathering feedback from businesses so we can support our industry associations in their efforts to secure support from government.

Our marketing

We're pausing proactive paid for marketing activity. Understandably, people’s health and wellbeing is paramount at this moment and we believe this is the best route to take in these challenging times.

VisitScotland.com is carrying government advice to stay at home. We’re also reducing our consumer email communications and have sent an email to our UK customers enforcing the message from the UK and Scottish Governments regarding non-essential travel. They will continue to receive consumer emails from us from time to time with light relief and inspiration, but no encouragement to book for the time being. Here's an example of what we've sent:

Example consumer email

We also want to create a regular intelligence paper with intel from key partners like OTAs (Online Travel Agents) so we're constantly looking at travel trends to allow us and the industry to know when we can restart our activity.

Our content team, working from their own homes, created a short film inviting our visitors from near and far to share their favourite memories of Scotland. The heart-warming film asks people to dream about visiting now, but to travel later. If you’d like to access the film to share across your channels and communicate with your visitors, we've made the film available to access on our YouTube channel with options for subtitles in German, Spanish, French, Dutch, Italian and Mandarin.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

VisitScotland Expo 2020 cancelled

On 12 March we made the decision to cancel this year’s VisitScotland Expo due to take place on 1 and 2 April at P&J Live in Aberdeen. As a major international event, with over 2,000 attendees from around 30 countries, Expo was on course to be a great success at a brand new and exciting venue. Read more.

Our trade marketing teams have continued to engage with the buyers who were planning to attend, providing product information and connections to the products they are seeking for clients, and we're looking at introducing interactive guides to promote destinations and businesses that would have been at VisitScotland Expo. We're also organising a virtual marketplace event – timing will depend on ability to connect. We will make an announcement regarding next year's Expo in the near future.

Our contingency planning

We're meeting on a daily basis to look at ongoing issues with coronavirus (COVID-19), managing risk as it pertains to our own staff, and ensuring that visitors and potential visitors have up to date information through our websites VisitScotland.org and VisitScotland.com.

Our own staff are now working from home in the light of latest government advice, There may be some delay with anything sent via post to the offices as we work to divert these to the relevant person.

We also took the difficult decision to close our iCentres to protect both our staff and customers. 

We're closely monitoring the situation as it develops to ensure we're in the best position to work with the Scottish Government and other key partners to manage what's happening as effectively as possible.

Engagement

All staff will continue to keep in touch and support their customers and stakeholders throughout this disruption. We will not be delivering any Quality Assurance or business advice visits. We’ve taken the decision not to charge businesses for their Quality Assurance scheme membership this year. Sending out bills just puts more pressure on them – so we hope we are helping in our own small way.

We continue to work closely with the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) to ensure our messages to industry are consistent and coordinated. We approached our national partners for one-to-one discussion (e.g. ScotRail, CalMac and the National Trust), our (inter)national/ regional partners to share intel and best practice examples (e.g. VisitFlanders, Catalonia Tourist Board and Tourism New Zealand) and international/EU tourism organisations (e.g. UNWTO and the World Travel & Tourism Council).

Our International Partnerships work, collaborating and sharing with other national tourism organisations and bodies around the globe, gives us a useful source of comparisons and shared best practice.

Liaison with the Scottish Government Tourism Team, VisitBritain and key UK industry bodies, including UK Hospitality and UKInbound is ensuring that we're in touch with developments and feeding in industry questions and responses to government announcements.

Terms and conditions (cancellations) – working to understand the complex and varied cancellation and refund policies of, in particular, online booking platforms to inform Government of issues and provide some clarity and guidance to industry.

Our Regional Directors are in touch with local authorities on business support and levels of applications for grants being received by tourism businesses. The team is also answering queries from businesses particularly in relation to self-catering support. Engagement includes calls with DMOS and other local tourism groups ensuring they are aware of developments and signposting to the support they are seeking.

Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group (STERG)

Based on previous experience dealing with the impacts of Foot and Mouth disease, Avian Flu and SARS, we’ve reactivated our tried and tested emergency planning process and held the first meeting of the Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group (STERG) on Tuesday 17 March. Read more.

Communication

VisitScotland.org | to help advise Scottish tourism businesses on the situation we've set up a coronavirus (COVID-19) advice section. There’s been more than 105,000 visits to COVID-specific business advice pages and news articles on VisitScotland.org. 

Ecomms | we contacted almost 11,000 businesses and DMOs/industry groups on 20, 21, 22, and 23 March with various messaging from participating in our survey to a message from our Rural Economy and Tourism Secretary urging people to stop travelling to rural communities to a round-up of COVID-19 advice and support with a message from our CEO Malcolm Roughead.

We also emailed all our Quality Assurance (QA) tourism businesses to tell them their 2020 QA membership was waived plus a link to advice.

Social media | we’ve reached out to businesses via our 15 VisitScotland and Partner closed Facebook groups, via Corporate Twitter (@VisitScotNews) and via LinkedIn. We’re posting regularly with advice / support and messages from partners such as STA, ASSC and the Scottish Government.

Monitoring the situation

During this unprecedented period, it's important that we keep an eye on what our competitors are doing, how the industry is reacting and the sentiment and behaviours of our target audiences.

Here you will find the results from our industry surveys and our latest market intelligence report. Take a look at our insights.

If you have any feedback or information regarding this page or the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation please send this to business.advice@visitscotland.com.  

We are updating this page on a regular basis (last updated 3 April 2020).