First times's a charm

Press release   •   Jul 16, 2018 12:45 BST

As former First Lady Michelle Obama arrives in Scotland for the first time, the national tourism organisation has turned to the country’s biggest fans to help identify the must-see and dos every new visitor should include on their Scottish itinerary.

VisitScotland quizzed its Twitter followers* for their top suggestions for Mrs Obama to take-in as she arrives, into Scotland to address a charity dinner in Edinburgh.

Research** shows that nearly 60% (58%) of first-time visitors are attracted to Scotland for its scenery and landscapes, while almost half (47%) come for history and culture and 42% named Scotland as a place they’ve always wanted to visit.

Top travel picks on twitter reflected many of those things and included:

  • Hiking in Glencoe - @VirginiaSlimLA also singled out “a magnificent area just West of Drumnadrochit filled with snow-capped mountains, loads of waterfalls, lochs, even a derelict castle.”
  • Visiting the Kelpies – a trip to see the famousmagnificent statues which were designed by sculptor Andy Scott was suggested by @sidesoyal who commented “I can’t think of anything else other than the #Kelpies to see first…”
  • Enjoying a dram in Malt Whisky country – suggested by @MaryJeanUK who added “Speyside has some of the best scenery, culture and traditions in Scotland.”
  • Edinburgh in August - was the recommendation of @jokka1977. August marks the busiest period for Edinburgh’s world-famous festivals, including the largest arts festival in the world, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
  • Sampling seafood in Oban – highlighted by@ImagesbyTDashfi
  • Taking in the beauty of the West Coast – by@Val97362008 who posted “(the) Stunning West Coast, Arisaig, Mallaig! White sands, blue clear sea and sunsets to chase all evening!!

According to the most recent figures*** 44 per cent of visits to Scotland were from people experiencing the country for the first time, compared to 33 per cent in 2009, indicating that Scotland is becoming more popular as a destination for first time visitors.

The former first lady jets into Scotland today to speak at The Hunter Foundation event at the EICC, following in the footsteps of her husband ex U.S president Barack Obama who made the same trip last year. Mr Obama played a round of golf on the St Andrews Old Course during his visit.

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said: “Scotland clearly left an impression on Barack Obama after his 2017 trip with his wife Michelle including a visit to our beautiful country in her no-doubt busy schedule.

“Scotland boasts incredible scenery, vibrant culture and awe-inspiring attractions that draw visitors from all over the world for the first time and back again.

“Mrs Obama’s trip serves to strengthen our already stellar reputation as a must-see destination and we hope she enjoys our warm Scottish welcome and has a chance to experience more of what our incredible country has to offer.”

For more information on holidays in Scotland visit

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 five overarching strategies: Marketing, Events, Quality and Sustainability, Inclusive Tourism, International Engagement.
  • 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
  • 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 tourism in Scotland go to

2018 Year of Young People

  • The Year of Young People (YoYP 2018) will inspire Scotland through its young people aged 8 to 26, celebrating their achievements, valuing their contributions to communities and creating new opportunities for them to shine locally, nationally and globally
  • Central to YoYP 2018 will be a celebratory events programme that puts young people at the heart of its development and delivery, creating new and valuable experiences for young Scots and the wider public, with links to the inaugural 2018 European Championships.
  • Over 200 young people throughout Scotland are currently being recruited to become YoYP 2018 Ambassadors. Ambassadors will ensure that people and organisations in their communities know about what’s happening and will lead on projects and activities to create events and opportunities to celebrate young people.
  • The Year of Young People will have six themes which were developed in co-production with young people themselves:
  • Participation – looking at how young people can influence public services and decisions which affect their lives
  • Education – creating a stronger role for young people in shaping their learning
  • Health and Wellbeing – supporting young people to lead healthier, active lives and have opportunities to learn about and improve their mental health and resilience
  • Equality and Discrimination – broadcasting the value of young Scots, challenging negative perceptions of young people, and supporting young people to take leading roles in challenging discrimination in all its forms.
  • Enterprise and regeneration – celebrating young people’s role in innovation, entrepreneurship and the Scottish economy as well as making Scotland a greener and more pleasant place to live
  • Culture – celebrating young people’s talent and contribution to Scottish culture and arts.
  • Further information on what’s happening and how people can get involved can be found on the new website or @YOYP2018 on Twitter.