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Aberdeen set for Viking invasion

Press Release   •   Apr 22, 2015 00:05 BST

During the 9th Century, Dunnottar Castle in Aberdeenshire was seized during a Viking invasion. Skip forward to 2015 and today (Wednesday 22 April), an army of Vikings from Shetland landed on Aberdeen Beach to lead an invasion towards the country’s biggest travel trade event – VisitScotland expo.

Led by The Guizer Jarl (Neil Robertson), the 38-strong Jarl Squad, brought to the Granite City by NorthLink Ferries, is in Aberdeen to help promote Scotland to hundreds of international tour operators.

VisitScotland expo is at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC) from 22 – 23 Apriland could be worth around £1.7 million to the local economy. In addition, more than £24m worth of business is expected to be conducted over the two days.

Having marched international buyers into the AECC and opened the show with a spectacular performance, the Jarl Squad, who participate in Up Helly Aa, the famous festival in Shetland, is attending expo to help promote Orkney and Shetland as world-class tourism destinations.

Scottish Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing said:

“Our tourism industry is vital to the Scottish economy and plays a key role in promoting Scotland around the world. Events like the VisitScotland expo are crucial within the industry and provide a shop window for many companies – including 32 brand new exhibitors this year.

“The Year of Homecoming in 2014 has taken Scotland’s profile to great heights and with 2015 being the Year of Food and Drink, we are determined to build on this success for the future through events like this which gives our international visitors a flavour of all Scotland has to offer.”

VisitScotland Chairman Mike Cantlay said:

“It is an honour to have the Jarl Squad opening VisitScotland expo 2015 in true Viking magnificence and style!

“This is the only business-to-business event for the travel trade that is focused purely on the Scottish industry. Not only will millions of pounds worth of business take place, the local economy will also benefit.

“Tourism is more than a holiday experience – it creates jobs, sustains communities and provides an international shop window for Scotland. Last year we proved that Scotland was the perfect stage for sporting, cultural and business events and at expo 2015 we will continue to deliver economic success by showcasing Scotland to the world.

VisitScotland expo is an invaluable opportunity for Scottish businesses to meet face to face with tour operators from across the globe, bringing the chance to meet new contacts, negotiate new deals and learn new ways of doing business. We need to get out there and make the most of every single opportunity that comes our way. We need to fly the flag and sing from the rooftops, and tell everyone that Scotland is the place to be. With a little help from our Viking friends, I have no doubt that this year will be one of our most exciting and inspirational yet!”

Stuart Garrett, Managing Director at Serco NorthLink Ferries, said:

“We are always delighted to exhibit at VisitScotland expo and 2015 is no exception, especially since this year we are so close to our Aberdeen harbour operations.

“The Jarl Squad generated a huge buzz around the opening of the event and we were enormously excited to have them travel on board with us. The culture and heritage of Orkney and Shetland is something that people from across Scotland and the rest of the UK travel to experience. We were proud to be able to showcase Scotland’s most northerly isles at the country’s most prominent travel event.”

Neil Robertson, The Guizer Jarl from the Jarl Squad said:

“It is always a boost to the squad when they are asked to represent Shetland or perform at prestigious events. The effort they have put into making the costumes is rewarded by the demand for their services. As for me, personally, it is an honour to be asked to help open VisitScotland expo 2015, especially in helping to promote Orkney and Shetland as fantastic holiday destinations via the NorthLink Ferries island routes.”

Notes to Editors

  • Follow us on twitter: @visitscotnews
  • VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
  • The organisation has three key roles:
    1. To market Scotland to all parts of the world to attract visitors
    2. To provide information – and inspiration – to visitors and potential visitors so they get the best out of a visit to Scotland
    3. To provide quality assurance to visitors and quality advice to the industry and partners to help the industry meet and strive to exceed customer expectations
  • VisitScotland works together with tourism businesses to make tourism a success for everyone and ensure the industry continues to grow.
  • The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
  • According to a recent Deloitte study, the tourism economy supports 270,000 jobs in Scotland in 20,000 diverse businesses. The same study calculates that the tourism economy contributes £11 billion annually (direct and indirect impact, including day visits) and supports around 10 per cent of employment in Scotland. Almost 16 million tourists take overnight trips to Scotland.
  • For VisitScotland’s press releases go to, tourism statistics and frequently asked questions go to
  • Where possible, a Gaelic speaker will be made available for broadcast interviews on request (Far an tèid iarraidh, agus far am bheil sin nar comas, bruidhinnidh neach le Gàidhlig aig agallamh)
  • For holiday information on Scotland go to
  • For information about business tourism in Scotland go to

Year of Food and Drink 2015

  • 2015 is the Year of Food and Drink, a celebration of Scotland’s natural larder and the role that food and drink plays in shaping our economic success.
  • Scotland generates over £2.5m per day through food and drink tourism.
  • A series of themed months will create an appetite for key areas of Scotland’s food and drink industries – from seafood and whisky to berries and high-quality meat
  • For more information, visit