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Taking Scotland to the world – how our marketing supports Scottish tourism

By Vicki Miller - VisitScotland Director of Marketing and Digital

As a destination, Scotland has so much to offer. We have won countless accolades for our beauty, our experiences and are widely known for our warm and welcoming people.

From a tourism perspective we have lots to shout about and in very simplistic terms that’s exactly what VisitScotland’s marketing does.

We essentially use our owned channels, earned channels and paid channels to shout about why Scotland is a must-visit destination, ultimately inspiring people from all across the world to add Scotland to their travel itineraries.

But the scale and scope of our work is much bigger and more impactful than the traditional campaigns that many associate with marketing. While those are undoubtedly important, in reality the success of our activity lies with the relationships we have built and maintained with our stakeholders, be that the media, advertisers, tourism partners, tour operators or travel agents.

Nurturing these relationships may not yield results that are immediately visible to the public eye, but they are vital for our efforts to grow Scotland’s valuable tourism and events industry.

I want us to share more about these relationships and how they are helping us to support the industry. We’ve published a series of articles on our industry website that do just that.

We hope by sharing the insights and first-hand intelligence we have gleaned from our work we will equip those within the industry with a wealth of information to progress within their own business and marketing planning.

And if you don’t work in the industry, I hope it will give you a bit more information - much more than I can possibly cover in a single blog - about the work that VisitScotland does to promote Scotland to the world.

In short, we provide a mix of inspiration and planning information to engage future visitors year-round. This activity influences trip plans with ideas for off-season travel, destinations to visit, and things to see and do, in turn encouraging our visitors to consider seasonal and regional spread.

Much of our global outreach activity on our owned channels, such as, social media and digital communications, is centred around our marketing calendar. It allows us to distil the huge variety of experiences to be enjoyed across Scotland into distinct topical themes with the aim of inspiring our audiences.

Take April, for example, where our Scottish islands spotlight boosted page views of island content on by 41% month on month, generating over 16,000 web listing referrals to island businesses.

Capitalising on themes and trends is also an important part of our work with the media. Our Global PR teams regularly meet journalists from key markets to share their knowledge of Scotland’s offering, tapping into the latest travel trends and pitching to put Scotland on the pages or TV screens of some of the world’s top travel and lifestyle titles. The team is always on the hunt for new stories to share and work closely with businesses and destinations to help bring their offerings to life for visiting journalists.

If we look at our business-to-business activity, an integral part of our marketing strategy includes working with travel agents, tour operators and travel trade. More than half of international visitors are using travel intermediaries to plan and book so this is a key audience for us.

A lot of our understanding of consumer trends and behaviour comes via these channels. It was through these relationships we learned of the demand for Scotland post pandemic. We were hearing first-hand what visitors were looking for in a world after COVID-19.

Our intermediaries marketing team regularly meet with their contacts both virtually and in market to gather news, information, details of new air routes and trends which can help drive planning for the future. For example, our relationships with travel agents and tour operators have helped us work with industry to develop experiences and products aimed at the growing number of environmentally conscious travellers.

A key focus of this team is VisitScotland Connect, our flagship travel trade event which brings together buyers from across the world with Scottish suppliers to learn about Scotland’s travel trade offering. After overwhelming positive feedback, we look forward to VisitScotland Connect returning in 2024.

So, after sharing just a tiny part of our work to support the industry, what has our marketing activity taught us about what visitors want in 2023? In terms of trends, we are seeing continued demand for ‘immersive experiences”, where visitors can feel part of a destination or place. Tour operators are showing growing interest in agritourism options including outdoor, family friendly and food and drink related experiences.

However, demand for outdoor experiences varies across markets, for example there’s a notable increase in enquiries from France for cycling holidays, whereas from China we are hearing that farm and wildlife tours are proving popular.

Unique and luxury travel experiences continue to be in demand by visitors from North America and East Asia, where visitors from these markets are willing to spend considerably for such once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

But for the vast majority of our visitors unique and authentic Scottish experiences are still what draws them. This is something we will continue to build on with all our marketing to make Scotland a destination of choice in 2023 and beyond.

We also work with a range of businesses, destinations and cross-sector organisations on partnership marketing campaigns. By combining forces, this approach allows us to inspire new audiences, strengthen our relationship with national stakeholders and ultimately grow our share of the domestic market by driving seasonal interest and bookings.

While the industry continues to face challenges, there is reason for cautious optimism for the future, particularly for international tourism.

When international travel resumed, every destination in the world was competing to welcome back visitors.

Fortunately for Scottish tourism, the recovery of international tourism has been quicker than anticipated. The recent International Passenger Survey shows that visits in 2022 were only slightly down on 2019, and some markets were actually above pre pandemic levels.

This is hugely encouraging, yet we cannot rest on our laurels, we will continue to work with – and for – the industry to encourage visitors to come throughout the year, staying longer and spending more.

This helps support jobs and sustains communities right across the country, benefiting every region and destination.

Building on these shoots of recovery to supporting the sustainable growth of tourism in Scotland is our priority.

Our marketing, along with partnership work and business support activities are all designed to ensure a quality experience for visitors and make Scotland a year-round, must-visit destination for generations to come.


Taking Scotland to the world – how our marketing supports Scottish tourism

Asset type post
ID 176599
Word count 1144 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.
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