‘Out­lander ef­fect’ fails to save two in three tourism cen­tres from axe


The Herald - - FRONT PAGE -


fig­ures showed the num­ber of in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors jumped by 11 per cent in the year up to June 2017, with a 19 per cent rise in spend­ing to more than £2 bil­lion.

The big­gest in­crease was among vis­i­tors from North Amer­ica – where the sub­scrip­tion-only drama is par­tic­u­larly pop­u­lar – with 38 per cent more Amer­i­cans opt­ing to visit Scot­land over the year.

In all, more than 707,000 Amer­i­can tourists vis­ited Scot­land in the past year, spend­ing £738 mil­lion – a 48 per cent jump com­pared to £495m the pre­vi­ous year.

The growth in vis­i­tors from North Amer­ica is said to have also been fu­elled by the added ca­pac­ity from Delta and Nor­we­gian Air which be­gan ad­di­tional flights between May and June.

VisitScot­land chief ex­ec­u­tive Malcolm Roug­head said: “It is mag­nif­i­cent to see such spec­tac­u­lar growth from in­ter­na­tional mar­kets in what has been a busy year for tourism in Scot­land.”

He added that the tourism boost was be­ing felt “across the board” from ac­com­mo­da­tion providers to Cal­Mac Fer­ries, Ed­in­burgh and Glas­gow air­ports. “We have heard from many who have had a record-break­ing year,” he added.

But de­spite the tourism boom, VisitScot­land con­firmed it is to close visi­tor cen­tres in some of Scot­land’s key tourist des­ti­na­tions, re­plac­ing them with re­gional “hubs”.

The tourism body said the move – part of a two-year £10m strat­egy to shake up the way it de­liv­ers in­for­ma­tion to vis­i­tors – was in re­sponse to the pop­u­lar­ity of dig­i­tal ser­vices among vis­i­tors and a 58 per cent slump in foot­fall at its in­for­ma­tion cen­tres.

In­stead, VisitScot­land is to en­ter “part­ner­ship ar­range­ments” with more than 1,500 visi­tor at­trac­tions, car hire firms, busi­nesses, tourism groups and lo­cal tourism ex­perts to plug the gap for vis­i­tors.

The tourism body is also plan­ning to cre­ate 26 key VisitScot­land iCen­tres in high-im­pact lo­ca­tions and a range of “Coo Vans”, mo­bile tourist in­for­ma­tion units that will travel the coun­try.

Marc Crothall, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Scot­tish Tourism Al­liance, said: “We be­lieve that VisitScot­land will man­age th­ese changes in a sen­si­tive way, en­sur­ing that al­ter­na­tives are in place to help man­age lo­cal con­cerns.”

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