Out(lander) with the old and in with the new

Press release   •   Nov 29, 2017 13:42 GMT

Around 190 people involved in tourism attended the Highland Tourism Conference in Inverness this week to hear presentations, workshops and see exhibitions from a range of organisations and experienced industry professionals.

Subjects covered at the annual conference ranged from the importance of digital technology to tourism businesses, through to how delegates could capitalise on the popularity of film and TV ‘screen tourism’, online communities and fandom, on the back of global shows such as Outlander.

Keynote speaker Keith Jenkins founded iambassador in 2011, drawing on a global network of elite travel influencers to showcase destinations, products, and services. Keith has built an excellent track record executing successful campaigns for tourism boards and brands that have reached millions of people around the world.

A travel blogger from the Netherlands and a member of the Scottish Youth Parliament also addressed delegates at the conference, which was held at the Kingsmills Hotel.

VisitScotland worked in partnership with The Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Highland Tourism Partnership, to deliver this year’s conference, the theme of which was digital.

The presentations, workshops and exhibitions offered insights and practical solutions to help tourism businesses take advantage of and embrace some of the exciting new digital technologies and trends. This, in turn, can help increase visitor numbers and enhance the visitor experience across the Highlands.

Bonnie Dubois, from The Netherlands, is an experienced marketing manager and media strategist and also blogs on a number of subjects – including travel stories - in her free time. She is also a visual storyteller, produces travel vlogs for Holland's biggest magazine Libelle and is specialised in making short videos for Instagram. At the conference, she demonstrated how rich and beautiful video content can easily be created, using just a smartphone.

Bonnie said: “I loved attending the conference, especially because I think the Scottish Highlands are so beautiful. I hope I was able to help the Highlanders to take the first steps into visual storytelling land, however, some of them are already there.”

Ethine Barnes, from the Scottish Youth Parliament, gave ‘The Young Person’s Perspective’, delivering the voice of the younger generation on the current tourism industry and its opportunities as we head into 2018 - Scotland’s Year of Young People. Delegates also had the opportunity to hear from Rebecca Brooks, from Abbey Tours, about ‘The Trade’s Perspective’.

Workshops with Gordon Black, Digital Marketing Consultant at Digital Tourism Scotland, were held on ‘Click your way to the Highlands’ and with Jenni Steele, Marketing Manager for Film, Culture and Heritage at VisitScotland, on ‘Screen tourism – online, communities and fandom’. There were also business stalls and networking opportunities, where businesses came together to learn from each other as well as hearing from inspiring speakers.

Chris Taylor, Regional Partnerships Director at VisitScotland, said: “This year’s Highland Tourism Conference built on the success of those held in previous years and I enjoyed welcoming everyone to the event.

“A diverse range of topics was covered at the Conference and delegates were given a real insight into how they can make the most of digital tourism in a host of different ways, all to help boost their business.

“I was delighted that the event was sold out again this year and I spoke to so many people who were all keen to work together to learn how they can attract even more visitors to this beautiful region.”

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
  • To ensure everyone can safely enjoy Scotland’s amazing countryside and landscapes, VisitScotland encourages all visitors to fully respect their surroundings by behaving in a responsible and appropriate way.
  • 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)
  • 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology
  • 2017 is the year to delve into the past and discover Scotland’s fascinating stories through a wide-ranging variety of new and existing activity to drive the nation’s tourism and events sector, boosting tourism across Scotland.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology begins on 1 January 2017 and will end on 31 December 2017. It will build on the momentum generated by previous themed years in Scotland including the 2015 Year of Food and Drink, Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Creative Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Built Environment Forum Scotland, Heritage Lottery Fund, Museums Galleries Scotland and Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is supported by £570,000 of Scottish Government funding.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
  • For more information visit or join the conversation at #HHA2017