With a raft of new flight options connecting Scotland to the Middle East and Australasia, plus the hotly anticipated premiere of the Outlander series on Australian television, VisitScotland is staging a summer promotional drive in two of its key Commonwealth markets, Australia and New Zealand.
Building on the success of a programme of activity last year to coincide with the Queen’s Baton Relay, the national tourism organisation has embarked on a two-week trade mission to Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Auckland and Christchurch (16-30 Aug).
The visit comes ahead of the release of early bird travel fares for the 2015 summer season and on the back of huge global interest in Scotland after the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
With their strong ancestral links, Australia and New Zealand are important Commonwealth markets, worth an average £107 million to Scottish tourism every year. Last year, over 155,000 visitors came to Scotland from these countries.
VisitScotland believes the launch of several new and extended direct air routes – such as the Qatar Airways route from Doha to Edinburgh, Emirates’ now twice-daily direct flight from Dubai to Glasgow and Etihad Airways’ first non-stop daily service from Edinburgh to Abu Dhabi next year – will help make it easier for visitors to get to Scotland in 2014 and beyond.
2014 has been hailed as the year that Scotland welcomes the world with major events including the XX Commonwealth Games, The Ryder Cup at Gleneagles and the Year of Homecoming celebrations. VisitScotland wants to convert interest in the country into visitors and will use the mission to inspire both the media and tour operators with activities and events planned in 2015 and beyond.
As well as introducing the Australian and New Zealand travel trade markets to Scotland’s natural larder ahead of the Year of Food and Drink in 2015, VisitScotland is hoping to capitalise on the launch of Outlander.
Set and filmed in Scotland, the fantasy series has been described as Scotland’s answer to Games of Thrones. It premiered in Australia earlier this month (14 August) and the national tourism organisation believes it could turn Scotland into a magnet for fans of the show and Diana Gabaldon’s bestselling novels.
A number of Outlander tours already operate in Scotland, with Edinburgh-based Rabbie’s Small Group Tours set to launch its Outlander-inspired trail in October.
Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing said: “With strong ancestral links, Australasia is one of Scotland’s most prominent tourism markets, and with the Commonwealth Games baton recently being handed from Scotland to Australia’s Gold Coast, we now have even more in common.
“Scotland has so much to offer visitors from Australasia and the rest of the globe, with 2015 set to be a bumper year for tourism.
“During this time we will be showcasing one of our most distinctive attributes during the Year of Food and Drink. Scotland’s excellent local produce is enjoyed across the globe and has played, and continues to play, a strong role in shaping our cultural identity and heritage. I would like to warmly invite the people of Australia and New Zealand to visit Scotland in 2015 to sample all of great tourist attractions and to join us in the celebration of the Year of Food and Drink”.
Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said: “Tourism is one of Scotland’s most important industries and 2014 has been a fantastic year to showcase Scotland to the world. However, we must continue our efforts to convert the huge interest in Scotland r into more visitors in future years.
“Missions such as this provide a platform to promote Scotland directly to the travel industry and media, who in turn can promote Scotland to the millions of people in Australia and New Zealand. These countries, particularly Australia are key markets for us. Attracting more visitors, helps create jobs and boost our economy.”
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