A global marketing campaign has been launched by national tourism body VisitScotland to keep Scotland front of mind for potential visitors as they make their future travel plans.
Scotland is Calling is aimed specifically at overseas visitors who, research suggests, spend longer planning and researching their trips.
It will form a strategically timed global roll-out to key markets – critical to helping to build back Scottish tourism sustainably – to support the long-term recovery of the country’s tourism and events industry from the impacts of COVID-19 and subsequent restrictions.
The sector has been devastated by the pandemic, particularly by the loss of income from international markets, including North America and Europe.
On average US visitors spend four times more than UK visitors, with European visitors spending twice as much.
In 2019, prior to the pandemic, Scotland welcomed 3.5 million overnight international visits which generated 43% of the total tourism spend that year.
Re-engaging with international visitors now aims to benefit Scotland against competitor destinations.
An international demand building programme is one of several tourism recovery proposals developed by the Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group (STERG) and funded by the Scottish Government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Scotland is Calling will also be rolled out across the UK to support the domestic market recovery and extend the visitor season through autumn and winter.
The campaign aims to appeal to the hearts and minds of future visitors, inviting them to enjoy Scotland’s world class food and drink, events, film and culture.
Targeted consumer content will feature on digital channels, social media and through publishing partnerships.
VisitScotland will also engage with travel media through educational activity to help industry develop sustainable and responsible travel itineraries.
As part of Scotland is Calling, a new Inbound Operator and Marketing Fund has been launched to support Scottish-based Tour Operators and Destination Management Companies (DMCs) working internationally to develop and market new responsible tourism itineraries.
The £6.5 million marketing campaign, coupled with the £1.5 million fund, supports Scotland’s brand positioning as a welcoming, inclusive and progressive nation with content telling Scotland’s story as a responsible destination where you can slow down, re-charge, escape and enjoy immersive and sustainable tourism experiences.
Tourism minister Ivan McKee said: “Scotland is one of the world’s leading tourism destinations and we want it to remain one of the top destinations for visitors from across the world.
“This funding follows the recommendations from the Tourism Recovery Taskforce and will ensure our tourism businesses that would normally rely on international visitors are ready to welcome guests back to Scotland.
“We have so much to offer, from crystal clear blue waters and white sands to rolling hills and bustling cities.
“There is something for everyone and we want visitors to start thinking about and planning their trips to Scotland when the time is right.”
Vicki Miller, director of marketing and Digital at VisitScotland, said:“International visitors are critical in helping Scotland’s tourism industry to build back sustainably as it recovers from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We know there is pent-up demand for travel and we want to ensure that we inspire potential visitors with what Scotland has to offer and make it their first-choice destination when they can travel.
“The campaign will support the work of inbound tour operators and Destination Management Companies who bring high-value visitors to Scotland and deliver a regional and seasonal spread of visitors across the country.
“It will also supplement our key domestic market recovery activity, with a focus on extending the visitor season over the autumn and winter months.
“VisitScotland is focused on the recovery of the industry, building a destination and visitor experience which allows tourism and events to flourish now and in the future.
“We’ll continue to work with, and support, businesses to ensure we rebuild this vital part of Scotland’s economy.”