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New partnership offers the ‘VIP’ treatment

Press Release   •   Jul 18, 2016 11:32 BST

Visitors to Aberdeenshire are set to receive the ‘VIP’ treatment, following the announcement of a new partnership between VisitScotland, the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) and Historic Environment Scotland (HES).

VisitScotland has begun work on a pilot project with the two organisations, which will see staff provide face-to-face visitor information at 13 popular castles and other attractions, reaching an additional 150,000 visitors a year.

The sites, which include the NTS castles of Crathes, Fyvie and Drum and the HES properties Duff House, Huntly Castle and Tolquhon Castle, will become the first in an exclusive network of VisitScotland Information Partners (VIPs).

The VIP programme forms part of VisitScotland’s new focus on information which also includes a new global online community to allow Scots and those who love Scotland to bring alive the streets, characters and landscapes of our country.

Entitled ‘iKnow Scotland’, the new online and face-to-face community will give businesses, industry and visitors the tools to enable them to share the Spirit of Scotland with others.

Staff at the Aberdeenshire properties already provide information and inspiration to visitors by actively promoting their local area and the services offered by local businesses. The new official accreditation will add value to the service they offer and make it easier than ever before for visitors to connect with local businesses.

The VIP programme ties in with VisitScotland’s global Spirit of Scotland campaign, harnessing the local knowledge, warmth and enthusiasm of staff at the attractions helping visitors make the most of their trip to Scotland.

VisitScotland will provide the partner sites with official signage and collateral, promotional material and information resources to make sure visitors receive first-class information about Aberdeenshire and about Scotland as a whole.

Jo Robinson, VisitScotland’s Regional Director for Aberdeen City & Shire, said: 

"The VIP service in Aberdeenshire recognises the role staff at these popular NTS and HES properties already play in promoting their local area and we are looking forward to working with them on this exciting initiative.

“There’s no doubt that the way in which visitors access information has changed dramatically over recent years and we are always reviewing how we deliver information to ensure that we are responding to this and meeting the needs of our visitors.

“With a total of 1,250,000 trips made to Aberdeen City and Shire in 2014, this region is a magnet for tourists. This pilot project aims to ensure those visitors receive the best local information from a variety of providers, including staff at NTS and HES properties.

“The new VIP programme will ensure that all tourism providers can be local ambassadors and help provide information, assistance and advice on all there is to see and do here.”

Stephen Duncan, Director of Commercial and Tourism at Historic Environment Scotland, said:

“We’re extremely pleased to be partnering with VisitScotland on this exciting new initiative which will see the staff at five of our iconic visitor attractions, throughout Aberdeenshire, participate in the VisitScotland Information Partner programme.

“With a focus on the wider local area and what else it has to offer, the support provided as part of this new accredited service will help further strengthen and enhance the overall visitor experience that our staff at sites including Duff House, Huntly and Corgarff Castles, among others, already provide.

“We look forward to working with VisitScotland, over the coming year, to help deliver this innovative new information service.”

Connie Lovel, the National Trust for Scotland’s Assistant Director (North) said:

“We are delighted to be participating in this initiative. Aberdeenshire is home to so many excellent and varied activities and attractions and all are within easy reach of one another. As ambassadors for the region, our teams on the ground already share their vast local knowledge, helping to ensure visitors get the best experience possible.

“This new accredited service supported by VisitScotland provides a helpful framework and recognises the significant contribution our visitor attraction teams make to Aberdeenshire’s economic wellbeing.

“After the fabulous experience they will have at Crathes, we can direct visitors to other local businesses and venues where they will find great food, great shopping and a great time - as well as a few more fascinating NTS properties.

“This exciting new and valuable visitor information service provides additional positive support and recognition for our teams and we look forward to rolling this initiative out to other National Trust for Scotland properties in Aberdeenshire.

The VisitScotland Information Partner programme is open to all Quality Assured businesses, as well as community groups, local authority-operated library services and social enterprises.

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

Caption: Pictured (L-R) are: Morag Craib, HES steward; Bill Brown, Membership Recruiter for NTS (North-East); and Pat Richard, Visitor Services Advisor, VisitScotland.

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