As Chairman of Scotland’s national tourism organisation, I have the pleasure of working with, and on behalf of, the people involved in the country’s most valuable industry.
And nothing gives me greater pride than meeting these people face to face, hearing about the latest trends, finding out how business is going and, perhaps most importantly, learning what we – as an organisation – can do to help.
VisitScotland expo, our showcase business-to-business tourism event for the travel trade, provides me with the perfect opportunity to do just that. With more than 270 exhibitors from all the country under one roof, showcasing everything from guest houses and hotels to castles and distilleries, it is a unique event – a chance to see the whole of Scotland in one place. From the Borders up to Shetland, from East Lothian across to the Outer Hebrides and everywhere in between, VisitScotland expo 2013 was a chance for the industry to make some noise, to show to the world that Scotland is the place to visit in the coming years.
Last week, this year’s hugely successful expo once again came to the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC). A city already abuzz ahead of next year’s Commonwealth Games, Glasgow welcomed hundreds of tour operators and travel agents from 40 countries around the world. Industry professionals from key markets such as the UK, the United States and Germany and emerging markets such as India, Russia and China come to VisitScotland expo seeking exciting new holidays for their clients – and they weren’t disappointed.
While there was serious business to be done, exhibitors and organisers instilled a real sense of fun into the proceedings – with everyone from Mary Queen of Scots to Shetland ponies in cardigans making an appearance.
- As part of our traditional expo networking event, our guests also enjoyed an unforgettable evening of fine Scottish produce and wonderful entertainment in the magnificent Stirling Castle.
While walking the floor at the SECC, rarely have I been so impressed by the efforts made by our exhibitors, who appreciate the importance of getting out there and showing the world exactly what their business has to offer. It was terrific to see businesses working so well together, with Fife – winners of the Best Destination stand award – one of the many highlights.
I would also like to offer my personal congratulations to Adele Sabin of the Royal Yacht Britannia, whose Most Effective Stand Personnel award was richly deserved.
Adele, and many others like her, helped to create a brilliant atmosphere at the SECC, something that will help to reinforce a sense of optimism in the industry.
There is no doubt that Scottish tourism has faced considerable challenges of late, but there is also no doubt that, with Scotland hosting the second year of Homecoming, the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup in 2014, we have a unique opportunity to welcome the world.
And, if the atmosphere at VisitScotland expo is anything to go by, the world is in for one heck of a party.