Experiencing a Gaelic Welcome to Scotland

Press release   •   Nov 22, 2016 14:58 GMT

A new Welcome Scheme which recognises the special efforts made by tourism businesses to provide for visitors with an interest in our Gaelic heritage is being launched at the Highland Tourism Conference in Inverness today (November 22).

VisitScotland’s Experiencing Gaelic is a newly-developed Welcome Scheme and is being launched by John Thurso, Chairman of VisitScotland, at Eden Court, the venue for the annual Highland Tourism Conference.

VisitScotland is working in partnership with The Highland Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise to deliver this year’s Highland Tourism Conference.

The full-day event included presentations and workshops from a range of organisations and experienced industry professionals offering insights and practical solutions to help tourism businesses take advantage of a host of opportunities, including reaching new markets, extending the season and embracing digital technologies.

Over 180 delegates will have the opportunity to attend breakout sessions on the topics of Slow Adventure Tourism, VisitScotland’s iKnow Scotland Programme, Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, Business Gateway support and Marine Tourism.

Speakers include Mike Dunthorne from Boots N’ Paddles and Tanya Lister, from Kylesku Hotel, talking about seasonality; Alan Rankin presenting new opportunities in Marine Tourism; Steve Taylor from West Highland College, UHI, talking about Slow Adventure; Mark Tate from Cairngorms Business Partnership and Graeme Ambrose from Visit Inverness Loch Ness also teamed up with Google Digital Garage on a HIE Digital Opportunities session.

Recent research shows that over half the visitors to Scotland are interested in learning more about the Gaelic language, but also our Gaelic heritage, culture and traditions. VisitScotland has developed the Experiencing Gaelic scheme to recognise those businesses that excel in meeting the expectations of visitors who are interested in learning more about this native language, including all accommodation sectors, cafes, restaurants and visitor attractions.

The Experiencing Gaelic scheme is not just about speaking Gaelic but it encourages businesses to spend time researching their local area, providing translations and offering links to local Gaelic heritage centres and places of interest.

VisitScotland is encouraging businesses to offer details of traditional music events and festivals, make Gaelic TV and radio available, and offer opportunities to practice a bit of the language, and provide some story books in Gaelic with English translations for the younger, and even older, generations.

Highland and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is also currently working on an industry toolkit, entitled Gaelic and Scots Language. This will be an online resource for industry detailing the business opportunities in embracing our Gaelic and Scots culture, heritage and traditions.

Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017 was launched last month and with the Highlands’ world-class history, resources, unique attractions and passionate and knowledgeable industry, next year poses fantastic opportunities for the region. At today’s conference, delegates can find out ways to engage in this themed year in a dedicated workshop from VisitScotland and High Life Highland.

Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said:

"Gaelic is an integral part of Scottish culture. Tourists will come across Gaelic names all across Scotland, in our towns and cities and rural areas with lochs, mountains and rivers that still using the original Gaelic description.

“VisitScotland’s Experiencing Gaelic Welcome Scheme will see tourism businesses providing links to heritage centres and places of interests for visitors with an interest in our Gaelic heritage. This initiative recognises the cultural, economic and social value of the language to our whole country.”

John Thurso, Chairman of VisitScotland, said:

“I am delighted to be attending the Highland Tourism Conference and to be launching our new Experiencing Gaelic scheme today. For many visitors, it is an interest in the Gaelic language and culture that drives them to visit establishments in this scheme and not necessarily that they speak Gaelic to any degree.

“Scotland’s many place names, mountains, rivers and natural features are often created and written in Gaelic, such as Cairngorm (the blue or green mountain), Drumnadrochit (the ridge of the bridge) and Glenmore (the big glen). To give our non-Gaelic speakers a translation of these names would capture the spirit of the area, bringing it to life and giving a sense of place, which will enhance their experience of Scotland and, in turn, their understanding of Gaelic.

“A great and very encouraging range of topics and new opportunities for the region are being covered by today’s conference, spanning all five of the Scottish Tourism Alliance’s Big 5 Questions for the industry: customers, digital, costs, people and our collective regional industry voice.

“It has been very encouraging to see so many individuals and businesses involved in tourism at this year’s conference, all keen to work together and learn how they can attract even more visitors to this unique part of Scotland.”

David Boag, Bòrd na Gàidhlig’s Director of Language Planning and Community Developments,said:

“We welcome the launch of VisitScotland’s Experiencing Gaelic Scheme. VisitScotland is an excellent example of a public body embracing the huge potential that Gaelic has to offer Scotland and have been proactive in incorporating Gaelic into their day-to-day activities.

“Studies show that Gaelic has a potential economic value to the Scottish economy in the region of between £82 and £149 million, with both tourists and providers alike recognising the valuable part that Gaelic plays in this. We expect that the Experiencing Gaelic scheme will help grow this potential even further.”

Chair of the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Committee at The Highland Council, Councillor Audrey Sinclair, said:

“The Council has a long history of hosting tourism conferences having first done so well over a decade ago. Since partnering with VisitScotland and others in recent years, we’ve seen the event go from strength to strength and I’m delighted to see that this year’s event will see so many people coming together from all across the Highlands to discuss some of the challenges the industry faces and some of the areas that offer great opportunities for Highland over the next few years.”

Notes to Editors

  • Follow us on twitter: @visitscotnews
  • VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
  • The organisation’s core objective is to contribute to the Tourism 2020 Strategy ambition of growing tourism revenues by £1 billion by 2020.
  • This will be supported by seven overarching strategies:
    1. Marketing: we will market Scotland and its outstanding assets to visitors from all parts of the world, including the promotion of Scotland to people living in Scotland       to visit different parts of the country
    2. Events: we will support the national events strategy and its delivery, and sustain, develop and promote Scotland’s international profile as one of the world’s foremost events destinations
    3. Internationalisation and International Engagement: we will utilise all our platforms to enable Scottish-based tourism businesses to better understand international       opportunities and market to a global audience and we will work within One       Scotland Partnerships to optimise the potential of Scotland’s Diaspora and our strategic partners at regional, European and global levels
    4. Customer Experience: we will provide information and inspiration to visitors both locally and globally via their preferred medium of choice
    5. Quality and Sustainability: we will provide support and advice to businesses, with the goal of improving the quality and sustainability of the tourism sector in Scotland. We will provide quality assurance to visitors through our Quality Schemes
    6. Inclusive Tourism: we will strive to make tourism in Scotland inclusive and available to all
    7. Working in Partnership: we will listen to and work with the industry, partners and communities to shape our offering and support
  • VisitScotland works together with tourism businesses to make tourism a success for everyone and ensure the industry continues to grow.
  • The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
  • Spending by tourists in Scotland generates around £12 billion of economic activity in the wider Scottish supply chain and contributes around £6 billion to Scottish GDP (in basic prices). This represents about 5% of total Scottish GDP.
  • The Scottish Government is the Managing Authority for the European Structural Funds 2014-20 Programme. For further information visit or follow @scotgovESIF
  • For VisitScotland’s press releases go to, tourism statistics and frequently asked questions go to
  • Where possible, a Gaelic speaker will be made available for broadcast interviews on request (Far an tèid iarraidh, agus far am bheil sin nar comas, bruidhinnidh neach le Gàidhlig aig agallamh)
  • For holiday information on Scotland go to
  • For information about business events in Scotland go to

      2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design

  • 2016 will shine a spotlight on Scotland’s achievements in innovation, architecture and design through a wide-ranging, variety of new and existing activity.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design started on 1 January 2016 and will end on 31 December 2016.It will build on the momentum generated by the 2015 Year of Food and Drink as well as previous years including Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
  • Through a series of exciting events and activity, the year will showcase Scotland’s position as an “innovation nation”, its outstanding built heritage, and its thriving, internationally acclaimed creative industries sector.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Creative Scotland, Architecture + Design Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS).
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design is supported by £570,000 of Scottish Government funding.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate. 
  • Join the conversation at #IAD2016