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£6.5m boost for tourism businesses

Press Release   •   Mar 18, 2016 13:00 GMT

The Scottish tourism industry is set to benefit from nearly £6.5 million of public sector support to boost its innovation and global competitiveness, with a strong emphasis on digital tourism, it was announced today (18 March 2016).

In a speech during the Signature Programme of Scottish Tourism Week, VisitScotland Chief Executive Malcolm Roughead said that a collaborative multi-agency package of support available through VisitScotland, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands & Islands Enterprise (HIE) would support tourism businesses throughout the country to become more competitive through higher quality visitor experience and increased levels of growth and productivity in the sector.

The broad range of public sector support, which incorporates strategy and business development, leadership support and practical workshops, is set against the context of the National Tourism 2020 strategy, which highlights the importance of digital technology, increased leadership and the need to drive investment in the quality of the visitor experience.
The support available to Scottish tourism businesses includes:

  • Digital Tourism Scotland – a £1.2 million partnership programme delivered by Scottish Enterprise in conjunction with Highlands and Islands Enterprise, VisitScotland, the Scottish Tourism Alliance, Skills Development Scotland and Business Gateway, as part of the National Digital Scotland Engagement Programme, which aims to help tourism businesses become more productive and stay competitive using digital technology. Spread out over three years, the support includes online resources, workshops, business briefings, intensive business support, and signposting to a wide range of other Scottish Enterprise and partner business development support.
  • Tourism Destination Development Fund – a £1.44 million fund launched this week to support destinations across Scottish Enterprise areas in Scotland which boast high impact projects that enhance the quality of the visitor experience and visitor spend. This funding will be in addition to more than £3 million destination development support for Scotland’s biggest cities, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.
  • VisitScotland’s Growth Fund – an annual £400,000 fund supporting collaborative tourism marketing projects, focusing on growth in the tourism sector and this year ensuring visitors experience the true spirit of Scotland.  With a strong focus on digital marketing activities, the match-funding seeks campaigns that align to the £4.5m Spirit of Scotland global campaign.
  • Earlier this week, HIE announced a £310,000 investment in tourism groups in the Highlands and Islands region to co-ordinate a range of digital tourism support programmes for local businesses.

Fergus Ewing, Scotland’s Tourism Minister, said: “We want Scotland to have a world-class digital infrastructure, meaning visitors can access digital services at any time, on any device, and almost anywhere helping tourism businesses compete, grow and find new customers in the global markets. This £6.5 million of new public sector funding is the kind of practical support that will help us meet that aim.”

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said: “Digital technology is playing an increasingly important role in Scottish tourism. Our 2015 Visitor Survey recently revealed that 65 per cent of visitors use their smartphones and 36 per cent use tablets to enhance their holiday experience while in Scotland. Our inspirational new website at and our hugely popular #ScotSpirit social media drive play key roles in Spirit of Scotland – our first ever global marketing campaign. The public sector money available to businesses to enhance their digital offering will play a vital role in driving forward Scottish tourism.”

Danny Cusick, Tourism Director at Scottish Enterprise, said: “Scotland’s tourism sector has gone from strength to strength in recent years thanks to the incredible tourism products on offer, as well as increased global exposure and appetite amongst businesses to increase global competitiveness.  This substantial injection of fresh funding will be delivered through close collaboration between the public sector and the industry and will help build on recent progress by supporting essential improved digital skills and continued development and improvement of our key destinations across Scotland.”

Chris Taylor, Head of Tourism at HIE, said: “The news today of further investment in digital tourism will ensure businesses are supported across Scotland to become more competitive and inspired to increase productivity. We are delighted to be working closely with tourism groups across the region to deliver activities and programmes. This will allow them to realise the opportunities that digital tourism represents.”

Marc Crothall, CEO Scottish Tourism Alliance said: "We’re delighted with this announcement of funding which further demonstrates the collective commitment by the public sector to support the industry in delivering the national growth ambition. It cannot be underestimated how important it is for us to accelerate the digital capabilities of the sector in order to be able to market effectively and to strengthen our destinations. Coupled with the ongoing investment by industry this support will help address the strategic priorities for action identified in the strategy’s mid-term review."

Last month, VisitScotland launched its first ever global marketing campaign: Spirit of Scotland, which included the launch of the national tourism organisation’s inspirational new website on It is also accompanied by the hugely popular social media campaign, #ScotSpirit, all of which aims to help Scottish tourism reach its ambition of £1 billion growth by 2020.

To find out more about tourism industry support through Scottish Enterprise, go to:

For more information on the VisitScotland Growth Fund, go to

For more information on Scottish Tourism Week 2016, go to

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 current 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