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by Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland
05 October 2023
Associate Feature: Tourism: on the right track

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Associate Feature: Tourism: on the right track

Tourism is all about connections and going places. And whether visitors are near-neighbours, or have come from further afield, transport is an important feature of their overall experience here in Scotland. 

Last week was Scotland’s Climate Week, a timely reminder of the role each of us can play in helping address the climate emergency. At VisitScotland, an important part of our role is influencing visitor behaviour.

We want to inspire visitors to make conscious travel choices, reducing their impact when in Scotland. What’s positive is that, according to research, 70% of travellers indicated they want to travel more sustainably over the next year. So, we’re appealing to a market already open to making changes.

Our joint marketing activity with public transport providers, including the likes of LNER and Caledonian Sleeper, has helped to do just that. 

Most recently, we’ve been working with Avanti and Glasgow Life to support the reopening of the West Coast Mainline. Together we’re trying to increase midweek visits to Glasgow via train​ from London and key locations along the route in northwest England.

Active travel is another great way visitors can get around while reducing their impact on the environment and seeing more of Scotland. With the inaugural 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships this year, we encouraged people to consider cycling as an activity, or an active travel option, when they visit Scotland. 

We’ve worked closely with Sustrans Scotland to develop a cycling routes map and run joint marketing activity to increase awareness of it. We want to encourage more visitors to try cycling as part of their holiday and promote Scotland as a leading cycling tourism destination. With eight long distance routes and over 60-day trip options available (and more in the pipeline), the map, which generated over 250,000 page views in 2022, is a great enabler for those who are not sure where to start.

Through all our activity, we encourage visitors to lesser-known places and showcase Scotland as a year-round destination. This helps spread the benefits of tourism, growing the sector in a responsible way, whilst reducing pressures on sites with high visitor numbers. Within Scotland, we’ve collaborated with ScotRail on several campaigns, leveraging joint resources to encourage visitors to use the train. Our latest campaigns have used iconic Beano characters to highlight the Kids for a Quid promotion and we’ll be promoting family friendly adventures during the October holidays. 

In our 2021 research, we found 59% of Scottish residents would consider public transport once in a destination on holiday in Scotland. The same survey uncovered some of the barriers around holidaymakers’ use of public transport, particularly around cost and joined-up modes of transport. This helps us inform the insights we supply to our partners like Transport Scotland, key transport providers and projects across the country, ensuring the visitor economy and tourism remain a focus. 

One recent example is the Levenmouth Reconnected Programme which is supporting the reinstatement of the Levenmouth Rail Link. Working with Fife Council Tourism Team, we’ve established a tourism group around the rail opening, to maximise opportunities related to the exciting new linkage in this part of Fife. 

Many visitors choose to travel by car in Scotland, and electric vehicle ownership is only set to grow over the coming years and decades. To reflect this, one strand of our Destination Net Zero activity, with partners, has focused on improving the network of electric vehicle charge points. 

The EV Charge Point Tourism Recovery Fund funded almost 200 charge points which are being installed near popular tourist routes across the country. And our Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund has helped support projects which increase car parking capacity, improve cycling facilities and install electric vehicle charge points. 

We’re under no illusions that there is still work to do, but we can also be very proud of the activity already being delivered. Together we’re building connectivity and ensuring tourism is a force for good in all parts of Scotland. 

This article is sponsored by VisitScotland

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Read the most recent article written by Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland - Associate Feature: Tourism: an economic and social powerhouse for Scotland.

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