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Beam me in, Scotty

Press release   •   Jul 07, 2016 00:02 BST

VisitScotland has put out a global call to Scots to ensure Scotland remains one of the top holiday choices after a rapid rise of destinations worldwide.

Recent findings show in the last 12 years, 254 new destinations have appeared worldwide leading to significant competition for Scotland’s £5.2bn tourism industry*.

In response, VisitScotland has launched a mission to beam a Scot into every location worldwide to share what makes Scotland so special through advice, stories, tips and information.

Revealed today, the national tourism organisation has introduced a new global online community to allow Scots and those who love Scotland to bring alive the streets, characters and landscapes of the country. The community will mean everyone worldwide from New York to New Guinea can go online in their own homes and ‘talk to a Scottish local’.

The initiative was launched today (Thursday 7 July) using one of the greatest stories conceived in Scotland – Harry Potter - featuring a book sculpture of the Glenfinnan Viaduct or ‘Harry Potter Bridge’ to show how easy it is to bring Scotland to life through the written word.

Entitled iKnow Scotland, the new online and face to face community will see VisitScotland partnering with both private and public sectors to give businesses, industry and visitors the tools to enable them to share the Spirit of Scotland with others.

VisitScotland will reach out to ask Scots and those who love Scotland, to get involved as part of the wider Spirit of Scotland campaign that has been running nationwide. This will include a short online film called ‘Pride’ featuring an Amy Macdonald soundtrack.

Features of iKnow Scotland:

Online inspiration:

  • Online Community on - an active, owned forum where consumers can tell their own stories, show pictures, inspire others and provide advice
  • Live Web Chat function to allow visitors to ask questions and get answers online in real time (during business hours)
  • Trip Planning: A practical trip planning tool to help visitors to plan their break by creating, saving and sharing their own travel itineraries

Face to face inspiration:

  • Introduction of iKnow Scotland VisitScotland Information Partner (VIP) Programme (working with attractions and accommodation providers to deliver information and advice to visitors)
  • 125 tourism businesses have signed up to the VIP programme already including visitor attractions operated by National Trust for Scotland and Historic Environment Scotland.
  • Outreach - a fleet of Coo campervans and VisitScotland staff will travel around Scotland throughout the summer providing inspiration and information at some of the country’s biggest and best events, visitor attractions and tourism hotspots.
  • Re-naming of VisitScotland Information Centres as iCentres and iHubs nationwide

While 70% of visitors state that the internet is their preferred tool to plan a trip to Scotland, the most popular method for finding out ‘what to see and do’ was talking to locals. In addition, was second only to Google as the site used to plan a trip**. The new online community will combine the benefits of the internet, with the personal touch in response to the changing needs of visitors.

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs said:

“Through the Spirit of Scotland campaign, everyone can tell Scotland’s story. Whether it is about the warmth of our welcome, how they were moved by our landscapes, or our music, or our history.

“The whole nation can come together as part of this campaign, using the pride we have in our country and the passion we have for it to share Scotland’s story far and wide.”

The new initiative is part of the national tourism organisation’s Spirit of Scotland campaign, launched in February 2016. The global campaign is built on extensive research which shows that people think Scotland has a unique spirit– whether it’s the magic of the landscapes or the warmth of the people. Everyone who has shared their #ScotSpirit will become part of a special social movement. The award-winning campaign** has proved one of the most successful for VisitScotland in recent years. Since its launch on 10 February 2016 the campaign has celebrated:

Over 130,000 shares of #ScotSpirit (average 1000 per day)

Over 20 million views of Spirit of Scotland online campaign films

Delivering 576,000 business referrals representing £200m income for tourism businesses (+20%)

#ScotSpirit trending #2 in the UK and in top 20 worldwide on day of launch

Over 90 holidays secured through ‘generosity of spirit’ donations for disadvantaged families (373 people)

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland said:

“This is a rallying call to Scots and all those who love Scotland globally – we need you to help us spread the word! Tourism is the most competitive industry in the world and we must think differently, pooling our collective knowledge, passion and enthusiasm to attract visitors.

We know that people who love Scotland are great storytellers. Visitors want to hear those stories and it is our role to ensure those stories are not only heard - whether online or in person – but that they inspire others to create their own memorable moments in Scotland.

We want to galvanise a nation behind this initiative, building on the spirit, pride and passion people have for this country to reach more potential visitors globally. Our ScotSpirit campaign has inspired a worldwide movement of more than 130,000 people, but our vision is to grow this army of voices ten-fold to ensure we are heard above the rest.”

To find out more about the VisitScotland online community, visit:

*[74 destinations in 2003] x [12 intervening years from 2003 to 2015] = 254 destinations The prediction of the ICAO of 15 new destinations a year is in alignment with the growth figures of RyanAir

**VisitScotland Scotland Visitor Survey 2015

***Won Campaign Challenges Award at June 2016 PRCA awards

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’s core objective is to contribute to the Tourism 2020 Strategy ambition of growing tourism revenues by £1 billion by 2020.
  • This will be supported by seven overarching strategies:
    1. Marketing: we will market Scotland and its outstanding assets to visitors from all parts of the world, including the promotion of Scotland to people living in Scotland       to visit different parts of the country
    2. Events: we will support the national events strategy and its delivery, and sustain, develop and promote Scotland’s international profile as one of the world’s foremost events destinations
    3. Internationalisation and International Engagement: we will utilise all our platforms to enable Scottish-based tourism businesses to better understand international       opportunities and market to a global audience and we will work within One       Scotland Partnerships to optimise the potential of Scotland’s Diaspora and our strategic partners at regional, European and global levels
    4. Customer Experience: we will provide information and inspiration to visitors both locally and globally via their preferred medium of choice
    5. Quality and Sustainability: we will provide support and advice to businesses, with the goal of improving the quality and sustainability of the tourism sector in Scotland. We will provide quality assurance to visitors through our Quality Schemes
    6. Inclusive Tourism: we will strive to make tourism in Scotland inclusive and available to all
    7. Working in Partnership: we will listen to and work with the industry, partners and communities to shape our offering and support
  • 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.
  • Spending by tourists in Scotland generates around £12 billion of economic activity in the wider Scottish supply chain and contributes around £6 billion to Scottish GDP (in basic prices). This represents about 5% of total Scottish GDP.
  • The Scottish Government is the Managing Authority for the European Structural Funds 2014-20 Programme. For further information visit or follow @scotgovESIF
  • 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 events in Scotland go to

    Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016

  • 2016 will shine a spotlight on Scotland’s achievements in innovation, architecture and design through a wide-ranging, variety of new and existing activity.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design begins on 1 January 2016 and ends on 31 December 2016 and will build on the momentum generated by the 2015 Year of Food and Drink as well as previous years including Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
  • Through a series of exciting events and activity, the year will showcase Scotland’s position as an “innovation nation”, its outstanding built heritage, and its thriving, internationally acclaimed creative industries sector.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Scottish Government, Creative Scotland, Architecture + Design Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS).
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
  • Join the conversation at #IAD2016
  • Events can join the 2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design Partner Programme throughout the year by visiting