Stand and deliver! Scottish tourism on the highway to success…

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.

World famous Shetland Ponies survey expo 2013

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.

Fife stand wins!

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.

Clyde pops in to say hello!

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.

April 23 / 2013
Author JFox
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It’s Scottish Tourism Week!

This week is hugely important to all those who work in Scottish tourism! Scottish Tourism Week marks the countdown to 2014 and we need to work hard together to prepare our nation to welcome the world!

Scottish Tourism Week kicked off today and I’m delighted VisitScotland is supporting such a fantastic agenda where so many businesses will meet to talk tourism.

Hospitality, skills investment, the visitor economy and accessiblity are all key items and it’s really quite fitting that we’ve officially opened our Glasgow Information Centre to tie in with this week, puting tourism at the top of the agenda. Our newest state-of-the-art Information Centre has opened in preperation for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014 and we want every man, women and child in Scotland to be ready to welcome thousands more visitors.

Our hospitality and scenery is celebrated across the world, but we must not be complacent. It’s time to pull together and 2014 truly spectacular! Please let me know what you’ll be doing to make 2014 a special year and post your comments below.

Scottish Thistle Awards Open for 2013!

 This year we have two brand new categories in The Scottish Thistle Awards and we’re ready and open for business! 

Best Tour Operator Programme of the Year Award and the Partnership in Tourism Award are now included in 14 award categories for you to enter. I’d like everyone, no matter how small to have a go! Last year at least one small operator thought they were too small to apply- but ended up being a national winner!

Our Scottish Thistle Awards celebrate excellence and quality within the tourism industry and include four regional ceremonies in June with all winners progressing to a glittering national final in November. 


  • Best Hotel Award
  • Best Guest House or B&B Award
  • Best Self-Service Accommodation Award
  • Best Cafe, Bar or Restaurant Award
  • Best Visitor Attraction Award
  • Best Cultural Event Award
  • Best Sporting Event Award
  • Best Shopping Experience Award
  • Historic Scotland – Tourism Entrepreneur Award
  • Best Tour Operator Programme of the Year Award(New)
  • Year of Natural Scotland – Best Nature Based Experience Award
  • Training and Skills Development Award
  • Historic Scotland – Tourism Entrepreneur Award
  • Marketing Campaign of the Year Award
  • Partnership in Tourism Award (New)


Welcome McGinley as Ryder Cup captain!

So what do you think about the appointment of Paul McGinley as the European team captain for the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles?

Paul McGinley announced as Captain for the European Ryder Cup 2014

McGinley has been voted in as captain of the team after a meeting of the Players’ Tournament Committee in Abu Dhabi. So he will now be charged with the task of defending the trophy won in such dramatic circumstances at Medinah last September.

I personally think this is really great news for Scottish tourism as Paul is a model professional and has always been held in extremely high regard by the Scottish golfing public. I am sure the whole country will be behind him and his team come September 2014.

We’re hoping he adds another incredible chapter to that history when the Ryder Cup visits the Home of Golf in less than two years time and there’s no doubt it will be a massive year for golf in Scotland as we prepare to welcome the world.

If Paul and his team can pull off a Ryder Cup victory in the Home of Golf it will be all the sweeter! Post us your thoughts below…

Blooming brilliant result for Botanics!

It’s been wowing visitors for centuries, but the world-renowned Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) is celebrating after we awarded it with five-star visitor attraction status! 

Mike Cantlay presents the VisitScotland five star award to RBGE’s Regius Keeper, Professor Stephen Blackmore

Established in 1670 and famed for its horticultural and scientific excellence, the Garden has received our highest grading award from our Quality Assurance Scheme.

It’s only the second garden in Scotland to achieve such status with RBGE-run Dawyck Botanic Garden in the Scottish Borders being the first.

 Our Quality Assurance Scheme is respected and followed worldwide. It considers the following criteria for awards of this type;

  • the visitor welcome
  •  signage, decor
  • menu
  • merchandise and cleanliness  

The timing of this award is fitting given we will be launching the Year of Natural Scotland on January 1 - our chance to showcase Scotland’s unique natural environment and grow tourism spend in every corner of the country.