Scotland has a spirit of its own
ANN RUPPENSTEIN/ Photos courtesy Visit Scotland
Being a filming location for a certain popular TV show has certainly boded well for tourism to Scotland.
“We cannot talk about Scotland and not talk about Outlander,” says Keith Campbell, assistant market manager – Americas for Visit Scotland. “It’s huge for Scotland. We’re developing an Outlander filming location map. We’re constantly trying to keep up to the level of demand for itineraries about Outlander.”
Crediting in large part increased connectivity from Air Canada, WestJet and Air Transat, Christina Bruns, senior market manager – Americas at Visit Scotland, told Canadian Travel Press that Canadian tourism to Scotland is booming.
“It’s fantastic, it’s really good,” she says. “The first three quarters of 2017 versus the same period in the previous year, it was up 7%, from North America to Scotland.”
From island experiences and a growing luxury product, to rich history, heritage, and culture, Campbell says there are many reasons for Canadians to visit the nation.
“We’ve got an incredible drink product in Scotland ranging from beer to whisky to gin,” he says, noting that touring routes such as the scenic The North East 250 and the North Coast 500 have also picked up in popularity.
“Scotland is a beautiful culinary destination from seafood to haggis to drinks – with the whisky industry now you’ll see a lot of gin coming up as well, so the same distilleries are looking at gin production,” says Bruns. “We have on our website beautiful gin trails, whisky trails. In terms of food and drink, it’s a beautiful destination.”
For information, resources, sample itineraries, toolkits, and information on becoming a Specialist Counsellor On Travel to Scotland – the SCOTSagent online learning program – travel agents can access the new Visit Scotland travel trade website at (traveltrade.visitscotland.org).
To increase their bookings in the destination, agents can also partner with the following suppliers:
Experience Scotland’s Wild (www.scotlandswild.com) is a commissionable small group, active sightseeing tour company focused on getting travellers outside on short hikes to scenic locations. Some tours options are tied to whisky and feature stops at a distillery and the oldest licensed pub in Scotland.
“We don’t go sight-seeing, we go sight-doing,” says managing director John Stevenson, noting that tours are capped at eight people.
Scotbeer Tours (www.scot.beer) tell the story of Scotland through beer, specializing in the local craft beer scene and the brewing heritage of Scotland.
“Scotbeer Tours started because we had this incredible story and history about brewing beer and nobody was talking about it,” says director Sara Robertson, who gave up a job managing a software company to focus on the business. “200 years before we were exporting whisky, we were exporting beer.”
Scotbeer Tours offers 10-15% commission, depending on the level of booking.
Little’s Chauffeur Drive (www.littles.co.uk) specializes in luxury chauffeur-driven tours around Scotland with a fleet of Mercedes and Jaguar vehicles, offering bespoke itineraries ranging from golf, castles and whisky to ancestry and Outlander.
“Our family roots are firmly placed in Scotland and our expertise lies in luxury chauffeur-driven travel and touring,” says partner and managing director Heather Matthews. “Our driver guides are very experienced and work hard to ensure each tour is unique and perfectly suited to the couple or family travelling. Our tour designers have a wealth of knowledge about Scotland and have been creating tailor-made tours since 1966.”
Little’s offers 10% commission or net pricing, and also operates throughout the UK, Europe and over 125 cities internationally.
Spirit Journey Ltd. (spiritjourneysworldwide.com) is a tour operator/DMC based in the Scottish Highlands offering a range of tailor-made journeys such as cultural tours, yoga and wellness retreats, city breaks, wildlife, culinary tours, whisky tours, and more.
“It’s all about creating memories that will last a lifetime,” says director Julia MacLeay.
The company offers net rates or commission for travel agents.
In addition to bespoke golf tours, Saltire Executive Golf (www.saltireexecu
tivegolf.com) also specializes in distillery tours and whisky tasting, as well as destination management for tour operators, travel agents and cruise lines.
“There’s big margins in golf,” says managing director Neil Forbes, noting the company offers net prices so agents can increase their earnings.
Saltire Executive Golf can cater to a single group up to 45 people, and caters to every budget and level of golf.
The Lovat Loch Ness (www.thelovat.com) is an independent 28-room hotel on Loch Ness, which also features a Brasserie open to the public.
“Built in the 1860s, it has loads of character and history,” says director Caroline Gregory. “Every room is unique, striking a balance between contemporary and the authenticity.”
Love Loch Lomond (www.lovelochlomond.com) focuses on the areas of Loch Lomand, Trossachs and Clyde Sea Lochs. Travel agents can contact representatives from the popular day trip destination for access to preferential rates and itinerary planning.
“It’s where the lowlands meet the highlands,” says destination manager Karen Donnelly.
Located less than one hour from Glasgow, she says the area can easily be combined with a stay in the city.
Glasgow Life (peoplemakeglasgow.com, glasgowcitymarketing.com), which manages the city’s destination marketing and the People Make Glasgow brand, can help the travel trade with group itinerary suggestions, enquiries, destination marketing assets, promotional material, and more.
“Edinburgh and Glasgow are completely different cities,” says Sana Keller, the Canadian representative for Glasgow Life.
Glasgow Life is the point of contact for FAM trips to the largest city in Scotland, which was ranked in the New York Times’ 52 Places to Go in 2018 list.
“It’s known as the gateway to all of Scotland,” she says. “It’s a very cultural city.”
Did you know?
- Scotland is home to over 31,000 lochs, 3,000 castles and 550 golf courses
- Over 2.5 million overseas visitors travel to Scotland each year
- Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city, doubles in population during the festival month of August
- There are 150 breweries and over 100 whisky distilleries
- Scotland has six UNESCO World Heritage Sites and two National Parks
- Around 50 million people worldwide claim Scottish ancestry
- English is the most widely spoken language, with about 1.4% of the population also speaking Gaelic