Tourism reconnects with the world

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Tourism reconnects with the world

Regional businesses to attend virtual travel trade event to prepare for return of international visitors.

VisitScotland is linking tourism businesses from Scotland with global tour operators and travel agents in vital international markets, through the second virtual event of its kind. More than 280 businesses and destination organisations representing many more are virtually exhibiting at VisitScotland’s Scotland Reconnect 2021, from April 27-29,aiming to connect and do business with around 330tour operators and travel agents from around the world. 17 destination organisations representing hundreds of businesses and operators across the regions are attending and there will be 11 destination showcases. More than 50 businesses exhibiting are new to the event.

The online travel trade workshop event exclusively promotes Scotland and enables Scottish businesses to connect with buyers in important international markets, to attract visitors and help rebuild the country’s tourism industry following the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2019, international visitors made 3.5 million overnight stays in Scotland, spending £2.5 billion, which is 43% of the total overnight spend.[i] Inbound passenger numbers to the UK in July 2020 were 89% fewer at 1.3 million passenger arrivals, down from 11.1 million arrivals in July 2019.[ii]

The inaugural Scotland Reconnect event last November involved 5,000 meetings and this year, buyers from 26 countries, including the USA, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Australia, Brazil and the Middle East are attending, as well as London-based inbound operators representing the Japanese and Chinese markets.Delegates will take part in 1-2-1 meetings, as well as round table discussions on the latest issues affecting world travel and tourism. There will be a chance to hear about new tourism product offerings, trends like agritourism and adventure tourism and VisitScotland’s drive towards responsible tourism.

VisitScotland’s Head of Engagement, Denise Hill, will also meet in conversation with Tom Jenkins, the CEO of the European Tour Operators Association and Joss Croft, CEO of trade association UKinbound. There will also be a look ahead to The Year of Scotland’s Stories in 2022, a showcase of the country’s rich literature, film, oral traditions, myths and legends.

As collaboration and cross-selling are key to developing the ideal tourism offering, there will be an exclusive networking session for Scottish businesses the day before the event gets underway, to allow businesses to connect with each other in an informal 1-to-1 basis. Events including VisitScotland’s annual Expo travel trade showcase and programmes of business development missions have long been critical platforms for facilitating international connections, but rendered impossible by Covid-19 restrictions, new digital platforms like Reconnect have been developed.

It is anticipated some 7,000 business meetings will take place, as well as virtual experiences demonstrating what Scotland can offer buyers’ clients, including Deanston Distillery, The Real Mary King’s Close, Kitchen Coos & Ewes and Once Upon a Whisky / Glasgow Distillery.

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive VisitScotland said: VisitScotland supports members of the tourism industry in Scotland in their aspirations to internationalise and to attract more business and income from international markets as travel restrictions are eased in 2021.

“The last 12 months have been extremely challenging for tourism businesses but we had a good turnout to the inaugural event in November and feedback was very positive. Hopefully businesses will continue to engage and convert that continuing interest into visits. 

“Demand is building and Scottish tourism businesses are ready to offer a warm welcome back to visitors when the time is right.

“Scottish tourism punches above its weight on the world stage and we need to leverage this reputation to bring new investment, new events, new airlines and new visitors once visitors can travel freely in 2021/22 again.

“Until Expo can return safely, Scotland Reconnect is the next best way to keep Scotland at the forefront of people’s minds.”

Pietro Cecchini, Head of Business Development, The Scotch Whisky Experience said:

“We’re extremely grateful to VisitScotland in supporting Scottish tourism over the past 12 months and helping us adapt to the seismic changes which have taken place across the tourism landscape. Scotland Reconnect 2021 is central to our business recovery plans, and following our success at Scotland Reconnect 2020, I look forward to rekindling relationships with existing buyers, making new contacts, and gaining up-to-date market insights from VisitScotland destination specialists, and also direct from buyers in our target markets.”

Tara Wainwright, Marketing & Audiences Manager, V&A Dundee: “V&A Dundee is excited to be taking part in Scotland Reconnect this year. Engaging virtually with international markets ensures V&A Dundee, the city and our offer is front of mind for influential travel trade professionals. This event is an important part of our strategy to secure future bookings and identify new opportunities across global markets when safe, international travel is permitted again.”

Jonathan Trew, Glasgow Music City Tours said: “Glasgow Music City Tours are really looking forward to greeting new and existing business partners at Scotland Reconnect. It has been a tough year for the travel trade and the event is the ideal forum for us to meet our international colleagues, exchange ideas and kickstart fresh ways of working together. 2020 is behind us now and Scotland Reconnect will help make a brighter future for us and facilitate broader horizons for our customers. We can’t wait.”

Jill Chalmers, Managing Director of Glenapp Castle: “We are hugely looking forward to being part of the virtual Scotland Reconnect event this year. International markets continue to be of vital importance to Glenapp Castle, despite there being a lack of travel from overseas. We continue to receive great interest from abroad and with so much pent up demand for travel to return, we feel that participating in Scotland Reconnect gives us a great opportunity to meet again with existing customers and of course to meet new ones.”

Charmaine Coutinho, Product Executive, Emirates Holidays: “Attending Scotland Reconnect, as the name truly suggests, is a great platform to engage and unlock new business potential contacts and look forward to re-connecting with our long-standing partners. This event offers an opportunity to understand various perspectives of the current travel trends and focus on the fundamental recovery of the travel industry.”

Amit Gilani, Founder, TravelButler, based in Mumbai, India said: “What better name than RECONNECT! The VisitScotland event truly is the perfect avenue to reconnect- not just with old friends but also make new ones. The apt mix of hotels, DMC’s and other suppliers which warrants a mutual, fruitful association.”

For further information of VisitScotland’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, go to



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