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Tourism resilient despite challenges

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By Fiona Reid
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Tourism resilient despite challenges

IN this special article, VisitScotland regional director Annique Armstrong, above, reflects on tourism in the South of Scotland during 2022 and how partnership working can help ensure tourism remains sustainable in 2023 and beyond.

“WE know that Scotland’s tourism industry is facing fresh challenges, and this comes having already experienced considerable difficulty during the covid pandemic. The rise in the cost of doing business is having a significant impact on the industry, as well as ongoing issues with staff recruitment and retention.

“At VisitScotland, we continue to work with partners in our tourism and events industry on promoting activity that extends the season and ensuring the South of Scotland and Scotland as a whole remains front of mind for potential visitors.

“It has been fantastic to see the return of domestic and international visitors to our region over the summer and autumn months and we want to see this continue. At VisitScotland, we are prioritising activity that will stimulate demand and new bookings to support the long-term recovery of the industry.

“In September, we worked with the South of Scotland Destination Alliance to host a group of international tour operators, travel agents and destination management companies within the region as part of our work to support the industry to internationalise and attract business and revenues back from overseas markets.

“In October, we launched our Great Days Out campaign with the Association of Scotland’s Visitor Attractions (ASVA) and Historic Environment Scotland to encourage people to take advantage of the discounted rates and experience a day out at one of the many fantastic attractions and experiences on offer across the country

“Scotland’s award-winning UNESCO Trail has been promoted as part of a dedicated VisitScotland marketing campaign. Aimed at potential visitors from the UK & Ireland, Germany and France, the campaign encourages people to discover more about the country’s 13 place-based designations, including the Galloway & Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere.

“We also recently launched a new-look guide to film locations in Scotland which includes details of the many places in Dumfries and Galloway that have featured on the big screen.

“The programme of events to celebrate the Year of Stories has included many across the region, including Wigtown Book Festival, helping to show off the region’s strong storytelling links to visitors and locals alike.

“Despite the ongoing challenges, there is much to celebrate in the region. Lonely Planet recently included the South of Scotland in its Best in Travel 2023 guide. This is a fantastic accolade that will help visitors from around the world connect with the region.

“There also continues to be significant investment in the region with developments at Gretna Green Ltd at Gretna Hall and the Famous Blacksmiths Shop, amongst others. As we countdown to next year’s UCI Cycling World Championships, a dedicated cycling strategy for the South of Scotland has been launched that includes the development of a coast-to-coast cycling route. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners to maximise these opportunities and reinforce the South of Scotland’s place as a world-class cycling destination.”

Annique added: “We are here at VisitScotland to help support our tourism industry navigate the challenges ahead of them. Our industry website is a vital source of up-to-date advice and information on a range of topics from marketing, sustainability and digital skills to research and insights as well as a section dedicated to offering advice on the cost of doing business

“By working together, we can ensure the sustainable and long-term recovery of one of Scotland’s most valuable industries.”

 

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