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First Minister hails Iceland agreement

Press Release   •   Oct 07, 2016 09:30 BST

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will today announce an historic formal agreement between VisitScotland and the Icelandic Tourist Board, which will see the two organisations sharing information and best practice on areas such as quality development, information provision and sustainability.

Speaking at a reception in Reykjavik as part of the Arctic Circle Assembly 2016, the First Minister will today tell delegates that the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will enhance both organisations and their objectives.

The MoU will explore how the two small nations can maximise the economic impact of tourism in a way that is sustainable for future generations. It will also consider how best to provide information and inspiration to tomorrow’s visitors.

It follows similar agreements between VisitScotland and the official tourism organisations in Sweden, Flanders and Nova Scotia.

The MoU is a commitment to collaboration that will also focus on the following key areas:

  • Tourism development and long-term sustainability
  • Quality development
  • The future of visitor information provision
  • Digital
  • Regulatory and legal frameworks
  • Film tourism
  • Research

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Scotland and Iceland are world renowned tourist destinations and we share a common interest in developing a sustainable tourism sector that continues to excite and attract visitors. New direct air routes between our two nations started earlier this year so it’s a fitting time for VisitScotland and the Icelandic Tourist Board to deepen their collaboration, learn more from each other and enhance the tourist experience in both of our countries in the coming years.”

Ms Ragnheiður Elín Árnadóttir, Iceland's Minister of Industry and Innovation, said: “I am very pleased with this agreement. Iceland and Scotland are neighbouring countries and good allies and all co-operation between us has been excellent. It is important at all given times to look to those who perform among the best and in this case there was no need to look far - as the Scots are at the forefront in many fields of tourism and we can learn a lot from them. And hopefully they from us as well."

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said: “Both Scotland and Iceland are small countries that punch well above their weight on the global stage. Tourism is a key driver of the economies in Scotland and Iceland, with the industry providing a lifeline for our nations during difficult times. VisitScotland and the Icelandic Tourist Board have built a strong and mutually beneficial relationship over the past three years, and it’s exciting to take this to the next level with the signing of this agreement.”

Ólöf Ýrr Atladóttir, Chief Executiveof Icelandic Tourist Board, said: “Icelandic tourism has been going through enormous growth in the past years. Such growth inevitably brings with it new challenges that need to be addressed. Scottish tourism and VisitScotland have a multitude of experiences that we at the Icelandic Tourist Board have been able to learn from, and we believe that the signing of this agreement will benefit both countries in years to come. We very much look forward to our future co-operation within a vibrant and flourishing industry.”

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