May 30, 2024
Economy

Associate Feature: The visitor economy: looking to the future


Tourism is a cornerstone of our economy and a major success story for Scotland. It not only creates jobs, but spreads wealth and boosts wellbeing in all corners of the country, from cities to rural areas and our islands. 

A strong visitor economy helps to position Scotland on the world stage, whilst the economic impact of visitor spend spreads to countless other sectors – from arts and crafts to retail to food and drink. Tourism is not just a ‘nice to have’, it is integral to Scotland’s long-term prosperity and the delivery of the Scottish Government’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation.

Both globally and locally, we’re uniquely placed to raise Scotland’s profile, highlighting to the world all that the country has to offer. To tell Scotland’s story and drive visitor demand in responsible way, we prioritise our marketing, partnership, events and business support activities. 

We want to build on our successes and ensure that across all areas of our work we prioritise the activities that will deliver for our industry and for Scotland. When it comes to embracing opportunities and addressing challenges as they emerge, the sector has repeatedly showed its resilience.

Our collective ambition remains steadfast; for Scotland to be a leader in 21st century tourism with a thriving visitor economy. And to achieve this, we must evolve with the rapid changes that are happening in the wider world.

We recognise that consumer behaviour and the needs of businesses in both the tourism and events sectors have changed, particularly since Covid and in an increasingly digital world.  As Scotland’s national tourism organisation, we’re adapting to this new landscape.

As part of our strategy to grow the visitor economy, we recently shared planned changes to the way we provide visitor information. After conducting an extensive review, we will focus on providing information to visitors before they leave home. 

Insights tell us that most people use digital channels to plan their trips, with many of us booking our accommodation and activities before we travel to our chosen destination. The most influential window of opportunity has become those early travel planning stages. 

So, we will begin a phased closure over the next two years of our iCentre (information centre) network. We’ll keep our staff, stakeholders and partners engaged throughout this process, including keeping MSPs informed of our local plans. Working with our key partners like local authorities, tourism groups and communities will ensure we continue to grow the visitor economy across Scotland in a sustainable way.

VisitScotland already has an excellent track record of influencing visitors before they even arrive in Scotland. Our social media accounts reach millions, our visitscotland.com website is a wealth of advice and inspiration. Our work with influencers and leading brands such as Expedia, Disney and National Geographic, SkyScanner and GoPro means we are constantly reaching and inspiring new audiences right across the globe. 

Our research shows that by reaching the right people, with the right message, at the right time we can inspire when they decide to come, where they go and what they will do. We can shape how long people stay in Scotland and how much they spend when they are here.  All of this will increase the value of tourism to Scotland, grow the visitor economy and crucially deliver for communities in every corner of Scotland.

We must continue to nurture and champion our successes. But we must also evolve and learn; taking what we know works well, adapting it and investing our efforts so that we are ready and able to support the industry and grow the value of the visitor economy to Scotland. 

This article is sponsored by VisitScotland

www.visitscotland.org


 

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