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The Information Revolution

Press Release   •   Oct 12, 2017 12:14 BST

A fleet of Coo Vans hit the road last summer on a mission to inform the masses

VisitScotland today revealed a dynamic strategy to address the diverse transformation in the way visitors access information on what to see and do while in the country.

With a 58% drop in footfall to VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland in the past decade and two out of three visitors now accessing information online, a radical approach is being introduced to ensure customer demands are met.

The two–year strategy will see a significant increase in the number of channels providing content on places to visit and stay, with a mix of industry partners, Coo Vans and digital products sitting alongside 26 key VisitScotland iCentres in high impact locations.

At the same time, around £10m is being invested by VisitScotland each year in digital activity and enhanced information services for visitors including investment in the 26 high impact regional hubs.

This approach allows the national tourism organisation to reflect changing visitor demands and deliver more personalised information through a diverse range of channels so people stay longer, spend more and help to grow the economy.

The VisitScotland Information Centre network will reduce from 65 centres to 26 high impact regional hubs over a two-year period, however information provision will continue in all locations through partnership arrangements with local visitor attractions, car hire firms, businesses, tourism groups and local tourism experts. These include Historic Environment Scotland attractions, eight Arnold Clark sites and partnerships with organisations like NC500, Scottish Canals and the Forestry Commission Scotland.

The remaining high impact 26 regional hubs will operate in locations of greatest visitor demand, providing a cutting edge experience and information about attractions and accommodation to not only the immediate locale, but the wider region as a whole.

In addition, VisitScotland has recruited over 1500 VisitScotland Information Partners* nationally to ensure there is an information touchpoint in every single corner of the country. From distilleries to Bed and Breakfasts, social enterprises to bakeries, local businesses will be working with the tourism organisation to guarantee that visitors are equipped with the best local knowledge about things to experience in every region.

With so many relying on smartphones and tablets for information, a big focus of the strategy will be digital communications. Annually, generates 20 million sessions from over 13million users and includes online booking availability, interactive community pages, blogs and a trip planner tool.

In the last 12 months, the redesigned has delivered 2.7 million referrals worth a potential £560m to businesses (+45% year on year 2016/17). The VisitScotland online iKnow community currently has over 5000 users and over 7000 trips have been created using the website’s trip planner tool. Other digital outreach includes innovative partnerships with TripAdvisor, and Digital Tourism Scotland.

VisitScotland staff have also been significantly mobilised over the past 18 months enabling knowledgeable advisors to deliver face to face information to every corner of Scotland at events and attractions. A fleet of Coo Vans hit the road last summer on a mission to inform the masses and in addition VisitScotland delivers outreach at major events with pop up information hubs.

Lord Thurso, Chairman of VisitScotland said:

“The way visitors access information has changed significantly over the past decade. It’s time to switch our focus and investment into new and diverse initiatives to ensure we are reaching as many people as possible with the information they want, in the way they want it, when they want it.

“With three in four adults now owning a smartphone, a key focus is ensuring our digital communications provide succinct inspirational and informational advice to visitors at every stage of their journey. However, we know that speaking to locals is also important to our visitors and with our 26 high footfall travel hubs, over 1500 VisitScotland Information Partners and our team of outreach staff travelling around the country, it means that there is always advice on what to see and do and where to go wherever people are.

“The information revolution is upon us and technology has been a game-changer over the past ten years. We look forward to telling more and more visitors all about our remarkable country across all our different channels for many years to come.

Marc Crothall, Chief Executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance said

Digital information and the widespread use of mobile devices has transformed the way visitors source information and make bookings, both pre and on arrival. The world is changing and the tourism industry in Scotland has to respond to ensure we continue to provide the high quality and authentic experiences that our visitors expect at all points of their journeys.

“The national tourism strategy, Tourism Scotland 2020 identifies both high quality digital services and quality experiences as central to driving tourism forward into the next decade and we must ensure that we are investing in our information provision to highlight fantastic experiences, inspire more visitors than ever before to come to Scotland and make it easier for them to find information they need.

“VisitScotland’s new broader approach to information provision will mean changes, however it will also make more options available to visitors, ensuring information is delivered in the right place, at the right time in the right way to meet demand. Although there will be fewer VisitScotland Information Centres, we know that there will be many more places for visitors to access information across the country, whether this is online through their greatly enhanced digital platforms and partnerships, the ever-expanding network of tourism ambassadors and businesses who provide local advice or through the improved flagship VisitScotland regional travel hubs. We also believe that VisitScotland will manage these changes in a sensitive way, ensuring that alternatives are in place to help manage any local concerns.

“We recognise that we need to change how visitor information is provided – the customers are asking for it – and support VisitScotland in the changes they are making. Get it right, and we will significantly increase the perceived value to the visitor and offer them a greater incentive to visit, return and recommend us to others, helping make Scotland a destination of first choice. What’s more, doing the legwork on behalf of our visitors and making it easier for them to use a wider range of tourism products and services once here will also help boost takings and profits.”

For more information on the Information Strategy for VisitScotland visit

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
  • To ensure everyone can safely enjoy Scotland’s amazing countryside and landscapes, VisitScotland encourages all visitors to fully respect their surroundings by behaving in a responsible and appropriate way.
  • 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)
  • 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology
  • 2017 is the year to delve into the past and discover Scotland’s fascinating stories through a wide-ranging variety of new and existing activity to drive the nation’s tourism and events sector, boosting tourism across Scotland.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology begins on 1 January 2017 and will end on 31 December 2017. It will build on the momentum generated by previous themed years in Scotland including the 2015 Year of Food and Drink, Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Creative Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Built Environment Forum Scotland, Heritage Lottery Fund, Museums Galleries Scotland and Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is supported by £570,000 of Scottish Government funding.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
  • For more information visit or join the conversation at #HHA2017