Virtual tourism event hailed a success for Highland business
Get the Northern Times sent to your inbox every week and swipe through an exact replica of the day's newspaper
Around 40 tourism businesses from across the Highlands sent international customers the message that Scotland is reopening for business when they took pat in a global virtual travel trade event.
North businesses taking part in Scotland Reconnect 2021 included hotels, attractions and tours and included Cruise Loch Ness, the Grant Arms Hotel at Grantown-on-Spey, Venture North, the Priory Hotel at Beauly, Armadale Castle, Gardens and Museum on Skye, Cawdor Castle Ltd, Achnagairn Estate and Inverness Custom Tours.
Also participating was Visit Inverness Loch Ness, joining regional destination organisations from across the country.
Organised and run by VisitScotland, the event saw over 7000 pre-arranged business meetings taking place over three days. Almost 390 buyers from 26 countries connected online with almost 300 Scottish suppliers, helping pave the way for the creation of new tour packages for future visitors. Among those taking part were 41 buyers and 61 exhibitors new to working with VisitScotland on a travel trade event of this kind.
Scotland Reconnect 2021 followed the success of a similar pilot event in November - the first of its kind to be delivered by the national tourism organisation – aimed at helping the recovery of the country’s tourism industry.
Around 600 delegates attended each day and took part in one-to-one meetings, as well as round table discussions on the latest issues affecting world travel and tourism. Delegates could also hear about new tourism product offerings and trends like agritourism and adventure tourism and VisitScotland’s drive towards responsible tourism.
Buyers from the USA, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Australia and Brazil all attended the virtual event, as well as London-based inbound operators representing the Japanese and Chinese markets.
Chris Taylor, VisitScotland's Highland and Outer Hebrides regional leadership director, said: “This event has once again proven a great success at a time when reconnecting our tourism businesses from across the Highlands with tour operators and travel agents in vital international markets has never been so important.
“This last 12 months has been devastating for tourism across the world but hopefully as travel restrictions ease, we can begin to plan some brilliant new Highland-based programmes, products and itineraries for our international operators.
“I understand some fantastic and very valuable new connections have been made during the many one-to-one Scotland Reconnect appointments and I hope our buyers were both inspired and informed about our unique area through the regional destination showcases and panelist sessions.
“Tourism is a force for good – creating economic and social value in 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.”
Russell Murray, business development manager with Wilderness Scotland (Aviemore), commented: “Attending the Scotland Reconnect event this year formed a key part of our trade strategy by enabling us to get back in front of international buyers and rekindle many of those travel trade relationships that will be central to our company's restart this and next season.
“Being a virtual event this year and by splitting our appointment schedule amongst the senior trade team at Wilderness Scotland meant no shortage of meetings with key buyers and all from the comfort and convenience of your own home.”
Laura DeMaio, supplier relations and product development manager at international holiday group Great Value Vacations, said: “Scotland Reconnect has provided me with an excellent opportunity to meet with our existing, as well as key potential partners – and the timing could not have been any better this year!
“While meeting in person is always preferable, VisitScotland has perfected all aspects of the virtual platform – including the registration and pre-conference communication process, the resources provided before and during, and with the actual execution of the program and the meetings.”