This week sees one of the most important points in the tourism industry calendar – Scottish Tourism Week, writes Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland.
It is the major opportunity for tourism leaders and business owners to gather and hear about developments, challenges and opportunities.
Organised and delivered by our colleagues in the Scottish Tourism Alliance, the focus of the Signature Conference is Tourism: The Future - Beyond 2020, and takes place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Glasgow today.
And with regional tourism events and conferences taking place across the country - from Orkney to the Scottish Borders - over the next week, we have ample opportunity to discuss the future of Scottish tourism with the industry.
Tourism is a hugely important industry for Scotland. The last few years have seen the continued growth of tourism and the impact it has had on the wider visitor economy: employment up 11% in 2015, with 217,000 people now working in the industry; GVA growth outstripping all other sectors since 2008 at 42%, up 6% in 2014 alone.
Our Spirit of Scotland campaign continues to resonate with and attract visitors. The success of Spirit of Scotland is the innovative collaborative approach, where VisitScotland markets with Scotland not just for Scotland. We continue to extend our reach with Spirit of Scotland activity including our recent launch of ScotlandVR, a ground-breaking virtual travel experience that allows people, wherever they are in the world, to be immersed in Scotland’s remarkable attractions.
The national final of the Scottish Thistle Awards also takes place as part of Scottish Tourism Week tomorrow night, celebrating the fantastic achievements and innovations of our tourism and hospitality sector, which continues to deliver a world-class visitor experience.
There are challenges ahead of course, but by working together I am confident that the inclusive and sustainable economic and social benefits generated by a thriving tourism industry will continue to help provide for communities across the country, whilst inspiring new generations of industry leaders and entrepreneurs to pick up the baton and lead the industry beyond 2020.
We look forward to seeing you out and about - enjoy the events of Scottish Tourism Week.