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A bigger slice of American pie

Press Release   •   Oct 20, 2016 11:38 BST

Representatives of more than a dozen Scottish tourism companies are this week joining VisitScotland for a business development mission to the country’s largest overseas market. 

The national tourism organisation is leading the ten-day mission to the United States and Canada, which will see businesses from Edinburgh, Glasgow, the Highlands, the Borders and South Lanarkshire hold meetings with key tour operators in Montreal, Toronto, New York and Boston.

New figures* show that the number of visitors to Scotland from North America increased by 1.3 per cent in the first half of 2016, with spend up by nearly a quarter (24.9 per cent).

The mission will help members of the Scottish tourism industry to “internationalise” their respective products by making connections in the North American market.

The business development mission takes place as John Thurso takes part in his first overseas engagement as Chairman of VisitScotland, giving the keynote address to the Scottish North American Leadership Conference in Chicago this weekend.

Titled ‘Many Voices, One Vision’, the two-day Chicago event aims to identify ways the Scottish North American community can continue to promote awareness and understanding of Scotland and Scottish culture.

Addressing groups such as Chicago Scots, the Council of Scottish Clans and Associations (COSCA), the Saint Andrew’s Society of the City of Milwaukee and the American Scottish Foundation, Lord Thurso will highlight the vital role Scottish diaspora networks play in promoting the country around the globe.

With around 50 million people around the world claiming Scottish ancestry, the Chairman will also stress the importance of encouraging younger as well as traditional audiences to engage with their heritage through VisitScotland’s Spirit of Scotland campaign and with Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage & Archaeology in 2017.

John Thurso, Chairman of VisitScotland, said: “I believe tourism can play a much bigger role in the economic growth of Scotland, sustaining communities and creating jobs in every corner of the country. As our biggest overseas market, North America plays a vital role in this growth.

“Our business development mission to Canada and the United States is an excellent, cost-effective way for Scottish businesses to maintain existing relationships and to establish new ones with the travel trade. I am very much looking forward to meeting Scottish diaspora groups in Chicago on my first overseas engagement with VisitScotland and exploring new ways to spread the Spirit of Scotland.”

The Scottish firms accompanying VisitScotland on its business development mission, which began in Montreal on Tuesday and will conclude in Boston next Friday (28 October), include destination marketing companies, tour operators, accommodation providers, visitor experiences and attractions.

VisitScotland’s business development mission partners:
• Abbotsford House – Borders
• Dryburgh Abbey Hotel – Borders
• Abbey Tours – Edinburgh
• Capercaillie Escapes – Edinburgh
• Highland Explorer Tours – Edinburgh
• Mercat Tours – Edinburgh
• The Glasshouse – Edinburgh
• Rabbie’s – Edinburgh
• Atlas Travel Solutions – Edinburgh
• Glasgow City Marketing Bureau
• David Urquhart Grand Tours – East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire
• Loch Ness by Jacobite – Highlands
• Historic Environment Scotland
• National Trust for Scotland

Jane Carswell, Managing Director of Capercaillie Escapes, said:

“This is our first mission with VisitScotland and I see it as a great opportunity to share our vision and tailored tour offerings at Capercaillie Escapes to relevant representatives of two key markets for our growth. 

“Sometimes, you can’t beat face-to-face conversations to help make connections, as well as to demonstrate our knowledge and passion for what we do. We are a small business, relatively new on the scene, and therefore I’m also delighted to meet and build relationships with our tourism peers who are part of what is set to be a great team hoping to promote what is great in Scotland.”

Judy Lee, Sales Manager at The Glasshouse, which is also joining a VisitScotland business development mission to North America for the first time, said:

“The Glasshouse Hotel is excited to be part of VisitScotland’s business development mission. This is a great opportunity for us to showcase what Scotland has to offer and strengthen our relationships with international agents. I am looking forward to meeting with everyone and sharing our #ScotSpirit!”

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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