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Visit Scotland | Alba

About the fund

COVID-19 has forced a monumental shift in the tourism industry and as we map our recovery, we must recognise that we’re now operating in a new tourism landscape. International visitors are critical to Scotland’s medium to long term recovery, due to their higher spend per visit on average, but it’s important that this recovery happens in a responsible and sustainable way.

The Inbound Operator Collaborative Marketing Fund will focus on pandemic recovery and will aim to enable eligible Destination Management Companies (‘DMCs’) / Tour Operators based in Scotland to harness the latest consumer insights, which can be viewed on our international markets page, to:

  • Develop and market responsible tourism to and around Scotland from international visitors
  • Encourage international tour operators to add responsible travel into their programmes
  • Support the recovery of the tourism sector in line with Tourism 2030 strategy and Scotland’s ambition to be a Responsible Tourism Destination

Successful applicants will be expected to develop and deliver appropriate itineraries reflecting responsible tourism and an associated marketing plan that demonstrates that it meets the assessment criteria.

The total value of the Fund is £1.5 million. This fund is part of a wider Scottish Government support package linked to the STERG Tourism Recovery Programme and is being administered by VisitScotland.

Who can apply?

The Fund is open to applications from eligible DMCs and Tour Operators based in Scotland offering overnight stays. 

For the purposes of this Fund:

A Destination Management Company or DMC is a business that provides a one-stop-shop for all travel products (excluding flights), catering to specific or multiple international markets. It does not sell directly to the consumer but works purely on a business-to-business basis, i.e. to a tour operator, travel agent or travel advisor.

A Tour Operator is a business specialising in developing holiday programmes and itineraries for direct sales to end international clients or to international travel agent networks. Tour operators can be generalists offering tour packages published in catalogues and sold through travel agents or they can be a FIT (Flexible Independent Traveller) tour operator selling tours directly to the end international client. 

We’ve created some pre-qualifying questions to help check before applying. Businesses who are eligible for this Fund must answer ‘yes’ to ALL of the questions:

  • Are you a Scottish based Destination Management Company (DMC) or tour operator?  
  • Can you evidence a proven track record of working in VisitScotland’s key International markets (North America, Europe, Middle East, China), on activated marketing campaigns, generating enquiries and bookings?  
  • Do you have experience in media buys in the proposed market?  
  • Do you have a proven track record of the development of itineraries / tour programmes in proposed markets?  
  • Do you have or can you develop and contract responsible itineraries as defined by VisitScotland (see note) ready for sale in key markets by 31 December 2021? 
  • Do you comply with European Package Travel Regulations? 
  • Do you have your own marketing channels that you would use to support any marketing activity grant at no cost? 
  • If a DMC, can you demonstrate a proven track record of working in partnership / collaboration with tour operators in key markets ?

Take a look at the full criteria guidance document for more information on who can apply. 

The application process

The fund application form will go live on 23 September at 12pm, applicants can apply by downloading the application form. 

Businesses which meet all the eligibility criteria must submit their application via email to InboundMarketingFund@VisitScotland.com by 5pm on 30 September to be considered for funding. Any applications received after this identified period will not be considered.

Please have a copy of the guidance nearby so you can refer to it when completing your application.

Please note the following:

  • Applications will not be assessed on a first come first served basis.
  • Applications will go through an initial eligibility check to identify that the eligibility criteria set has been met. All applications that pass the initial eligibility check will then be assessed by a team of VisitScotland staff and will be rated against each of the criteria. If the application is rejected, businesses can appeal this decision.
  • If the applicant fails to achieve at least an "Acceptable" rating against all of the Assessment Criteria, the applicant will be informed and have one opportunity to provide clarification by resubmitting their application by the relevant date stated. Their re-submitted application will then be re-assessed by VisitScotland against each of the Assessment Criteria using the rating approach.
  • Following the assessment of all applications, a panel, consisting of senior VisitScotland staff and a representative from the Scottish Tourism Alliance, will make the final decisions on the success or deferment of all applications along with the level of award, which will be determined in VisitScotland's sole discretion.
  • If the number and value of applications exceeds £1.5m, the applications will be ranked by VisitScotland and those receiving the highest overall scores will be awarded funding, so long as a minimum ranking of ‘acceptable’ has been achieved.

If the application is rejected following eligibility checked, or unsuccessful following full assessment, a business can appeal this decision. Any appeals should be submitted in writing to InboundMarketingFundAppeals@VisitScotland.com together with a justification for the appeal. Appeals will be reviewed by VisitScotland and a representative from the Scottish Tourism Alliance.