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VisitScotland is linking tourism businesses from Scotland with global tour operators and travel agents in vital international markets, through the second virtual event of its kind.
More than 280 businesses and destination organisations representing many more are virtually exhibiting at VisitScotland’s Scotland Reconnect 2021, from April 27-29, aiming to connect and do business with around 330 tour operators and travel agents from around the world.
17 destination organisations representing hundreds of businesses and operators across the regions are attending and there will be 11 destination showcases. More than 50 businesses exhibiting are new to the event.
The online travel trade workshop event exclusively promotes Scotland and enables Scottish businesses to connect with buyers in important international markets, to attract visitors and help rebuild the country’s tourism industry following the Covid-19 pandemic.
In 2019, international visitors made 3.5 million overnight stays in Scotland, spending £2.5 billion, which is 43% of the total overnight spend.[i] Inbound passenger numbers to the UK in July 2020 were 89% fewer at 1.3 million passenger arrivals, down from 11.1 million arrivals in July 2019.[ii]
The inaugural Scotland Reconnect event last November involved 5,000 meetings and this year, buyers from 26 countries, including the USA, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Australia, Brazil and the Middle East are attending, as well as London-based inbound operators representing the Japanese and Chinese markets.
Delegates will take part in 1-2-1 meetings, as well as round table discussions on the latest issues affecting world travel and tourism. There will be a chance to hear about new tourism product offerings, trends like agritourism and adventure tourism and VisitScotland’s drive towards responsible tourism.
VisitScotland’s Head of Engagement, Denise Hill, will also meet in conversation with Tom Jenkins, the CEO of the European Tour Operators Association and Joss Croft, CEO of trade association UKinbound. There will also be a look ahead to The Year of Scotland’s Stories in 2022, a showcase of the country’s rich literature, film, oral traditions, myths and legends.
As collaboration and cross-selling are key to developing the ideal tourism offering, there will be an exclusive networking session for Scottish businesses the day before the event gets underway, to allow businesses to connect with each other in an informal 1-to-1 basis.
Events including VisitScotland’s annual Expo travel trade showcase and programmes of business development missions have long been critical platforms for facilitating international connections, but rendered impossible by Covid-19 restrictions, new digital platforms like Reconnect have been developed.
It is anticipated some 7,000 business meetings will take place, as well as virtual experiences demonstrating what Scotland can offer buyers’ clients, including Deanston Distillery, The Real Mary King’s Close, Kitchen Coos & Ewes and Once Upon a Whisky / Glasgow Distillery.Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive VisitScotland said:
“The last 12 months have been extremely challenging for tourism businesses but we had a good turnout to the inaugural event in November and feedback was very positive. Hopefully businesses will continue to engage and convert that continuing interest into visits.
“Demand is building and Scottish tourism businesses are ready to offer a warm welcome back to visitors when the time is right.
“Scottish tourism punches above its weight on the world stage and we need to leverage this reputation to bring new investment, new events, new airlines and new visitors once visitors can travel freely in 2021/22 again.
“Until Expo can return safely, Scotland Reconnect is the next best way to keep Scotland at the forefront of people’s minds.”Pietro Cecchini, Head of Business Development, The Scotch Whisky Experience said:
“We’re extremely grateful to VisitScotland in supporting Scottish tourism over the past 12 months and helping us adapt to the seismic changes which have taken place across the tourism landscape. Scotland Reconnect 2021 is central to our business recovery plans, and following our success at Scotland Reconnect 2020, I look forward to rekindling relationships with existing buyers, making new contacts, and gaining up-to-date market insights from VisitScotland destination specialists, and also direct from buyers in our target markets.”Tara Wainwright, Marketing & Audiences Manager, V&A DundeeJonathan Trew, Glasgow Music City Tours said:Jill Chalmers, Managing Director of Glenapp CastleCharmaine Coutinho, Product Executive, Emirates Holidays:Amit Gilani, Founder, TravelButler, based in Mumbai, India said: “
[i] VisitScotland Insights Department Key Facts on Tourism in Scotland 2019, published November 2020 Key Facts on Tourism in Scotland 2019 (visitscotland.org) [ii] API data Statistics relating to passenger arrivals since the COVID-19 outbreak, August 2020 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Businesses to attend virtual travel trade event to prepare for return of international visitors