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Riddell Graham, Director of Industry and Destination Development, VisitScotland
He said: “Preparations are very much underway within VisitScotland and our industry towards the reopening of tourism and hospitality at the end of April. We are focusing on the domestic market as the first to emerge when restrictions begin to ease, albeit subject to travel constraints. There was a real desire from Scots to explore their own country last year, which we hope to see repeated this summer. We also have to make sure we are also ready for the return of international travel which is so important to our country. In 2019, international visitors made 3.5 million overnight stays here, spending £2.5 billion, which is 43% of the total overnight spend in Scotland.
“We have been engaging with international partners on a ‘dream now, travel later’ basis so that when the time is right, we can work together to responsibly welcome the return of international visitors. VisitScotland delegates and Scottish tourism business and destinations engaged with our international markets at both GBExplore and ITB Berlin NOW earlier this year, two major online events for connecting and doing business with international tour operators and travel agents.
“Scotland Reconnect 2021 is just weeks away and the timing couldn’t be better, falling in the week we hope Scottish tourism begins to welcome visitors again, albeit local ones at first. This virtual event will benefit businesses and our overall reputation and profile as a destination. The event will exclusively promote Scotland and enables Scottish businesses to engage with buyers from around the globe. Scotland Reconnect 2020 was highly successful, allowing Scottish tourism operators to connect and do business during 5,000 meetings with international travel trade from 23 countries. This year colleagues anticipate over 7,000 meetings during the week. Scotland Reconnect 2021 will help members of the tourism industry in their aspirations to internationalise and to attract more business and income from international markets, as travel restrictions are eased.
Riddell added: “We know from our previous event that demand for Scotland is still very high from international markets. 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 again.
“Tourism is worth £12 billion to the economy and accounts for nearly 8.5% of jobs in Scotland. The need to attract visitors from home and abroad isn’t just about rebuilding our economy, important as that is. Tourism is a force for good and has a social value reaching every corner of Scotland and enhancing the well-being of everyone who experiences it. Tourism makes Scotland richer, economically and socially, and without it Scotland would be a much poorer place. Scotland Reconnect 2021 will demonstrate to a global audience our ambitions to be a world leading responsible tourism destination, considering the welfare of communities as much as we value the needs of the visitor.”
Riddell Graham, Director of Industry and Destination Development, VisitScotland talks about the importance of engaging with Scotland’s international markets, with a month to go before Scotland Reconnect 2021 gets underway.