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VisitScotland Connect 2023

Working with the travel trade can help grow your business

Writes VisitScotland’s Director of Marketing, Vicki Miller

The COVID-19 pandemic had a big impact on the way global travellers are planning & booking their holidays. More visitors are seeking customised holiday itineraries and that extra bit of reassurance and guidance when travelling again.

We are therefore seeing more international visitors using the services of tour operators, travel advisors and travel agents, collectively known as travel trade, who have extensive travel experience and can provide advice and reassurance. This expert advice helps visitors to select the right holiday experiences for them and get that all important peace of mind.

More than half of international visitors plan & book their travel through the travel trade. International visitors are vital to our industry’s success; they stay longer and spend more in our local communities in every part of Scotland.

In fact, international visitors account for approximately a fifth (20%) of total inbound visits but 43% of total spending.

The latest International Passenger (IPS) tourism statistics bring some extremely positive news.

Last year overall visits to Scotland from overseas were just 7% lower than pre-pandemic, 3.2 million visits to Scotland, compared to 3.46 million visits over the same period in 2019.

There were new record periods in both July to September 2022 and October to December 2022 for spend by international visitors, resulting in a new January – December record of £3.2 billion, up by almost quarter on 2019 (24%).

VisitScotland has a specific strategy for engaging with the travel trade all year round to ensure Scotland is a must visit destination and drive sustainable growth from key international markets.

Our team have relationships and contacts across the globe and ensure travel trade operators are fully informed of what Scotland has to offer, helping to connect them with businesses across Scotland.

We know from these conversations there’s plenty of demand for Scotland and travel trade are keen to find out more about Scottish products so they can promote and sell Scotland more effectively to their customers.

VisitScotland’s focus is on helping Scottish businesses harness the opportunity of working with the travel trade and creating opportunities for businesses to meet and do business with them.

There are many business benefits to working with the travel trade including broadening your customer base, international exposure, repeat business, bookings to fill quieter months and advanced bookings.

For the first time in four years, we were able to give Scottish tourism businesses the chance to showcase their products and services to tour operators and travel agents from all over the world – all under one roof.

Our exclusive new travel trade workshop VisitScotland Connect was held in April at P&J Live in Aberdeen, and we welcomed over 250 tour operators and travel agents representing 23 countries, from the UK, USA, Canada, Europe and Asia Pacific to Scotland.

It was great to chat with some of the 175 Scottish businesses in attendance in between their meetings. A total of 6,000 meetings that took place over the two days, as well more informal networking during the breaks and evening meals.

What’s more, 100 trade operators spent the days before and after the two-day workshop travelling around Scotland, on our 13 familiarisation trips covering 20 regions.

They were able to take part in outdoor activities, visit iconic locations, landmarks and islands, enjoy tasting food and drink while immersing themselves in our history, culture, nature and wildlife.

The spread of these familiarisation trips is vitally important to encourage that regional spend – we want to get people enjoying Scotland’s offering all over the country and the ensure every part of Scotland benefits from tourism.

Equally important they got to experience the warmth, hospitality and stories of some of the great people who work for the 170 tourism businesses on the familiarisation programme, which is one of the things we know makes Scotland stand out.

We have already started the planning process for VisitScotland Connect 2024 and we would love to see many of you there, whether you are a new or returning business.

There are also many opportunities to join us when we engage with the travel trade throughout the year which includes supporting partners on events like the Coach Tourism Association Summer Event last year and the annual Scottish Golf Tourism Week.

In 2022 we attended around 40 events online and in-person in Scotland’s key markets including the biggest travel trade events in the world, ITB Berlin, ExploreGB, North America Virtuoso Travel Week and World Travel Market.

Working with the travel trade doesn’t necessarily mean large tour groups, there are plenty of visitors who travel together as part of much smaller groups or independently, looking for private, bespoke tours and added value experiences.

VisitScotland can support businesses of all sizes in their aspirations to internationalise, it is a huge benefit to have trade ready businesses helping promote Scotland’s attractiveness as a destination overall. This in turn helps those businesses to generate new revenue.

You can find our advice and support about working with the travel trade including what your business needs to do to be trade ready as well as speaking to your industry relationship manager.


Working with the travel trade can help grow your business

Asset type post
ID 170286
Word count 883 words


Licence Editorial A Licence to use assets for editorial purposes, which is, to illustrate an event or story in an article but not commercially such as marketing a product or print ad. An Editorial asset may show a brand, a trademarked logo or product, a public personality, or recognisable people, without a signed release or with limited releases. When you use VisitScotland Editorial content you do so to illustrate Scottish tourism in a positive way.
Expiry No expiry date
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Usage Editorial content can be published in a variety of formats ranging from print or digital to online. In print content can be featured in *newspapers *magazines *brochures. Online content can be published in a *blog *website *article or *social media. Regardless of the format this content should always promote Scotland’s tourism in a positive way.