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Scotland the natural choice for holidaymakers

Press Release   •   Dec 20, 2013 00:00 GMT

Scotland’s national tourism organisation has hailed the success of its biggest ever nature-based marketing campaign, with new figures showing a 12 per cent increase in the number of Britons enjoying rural and coastal trips to Scotland.

The Year of Natural Scotland 2013, led by VisitScotland, was designed to capitalise on the beauty of the country’s great outdoors, encouraging people of all ages to explore the nature and wildlife on their doorstep.

New research* shows that, between January and August 2013, there was a 12 per cent increase in the number of UK visitors to rural and coastal locations in Scotland, compared to the same eight-month period in 2012.

VisitScotland launched a number of nature-based initiatives as part of its £3.4 million marketing campaign. This included giving £150,000 to industry groups, such as Highland Perthshire, Farm Stay Scotland and Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms, to promote themselves during the Year of Natural Scotland.

More than 20 million people across the UK viewed VisitScotland’s Year of Natural Scotland television commercials, voiced by Neil Oliver, while 15,000 people took advantage of Big April Adventures – which saw VisitScotland team up with Caledonian MacBrayne, Scotrail and NorthLink to provide free Easter travel to all corners of the country.

The Natural Explorers initiative, meanwhile, saw every P5, P6 and P7 child in the country given a free booklet which provided them with outdoor ideas and inspiration during the autumn.

Other activity included a £50,000 campaign to capitalise on the success of Hebrides – Islands on the Edge, the BBC television documentary narrated by Scottish Hollywood superstar Ewan McGregor, while the Golden Eagle captured 40 per cent of the public vote to be named the country’s most popular animal in Scotland’s Big Five – a joint venture between VisitScotland and Scottish Natural Heritage.

Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland, said: “Scotland’s stunning scenery is the number one reason people visit our country and we are thrilled with the response to the Year of Natural Scotland. Through working with a variety of groups, including destination organisations, schools and transport providers, we were able to help highlight the country’s superb natural beauty and surroundings. But the end of the year doesn’t mean the end to the focus on natural Scotland, with events such as the John Muir Festival forming a key part of Homecoming in 2014.”  

Fergus Ewing, Scotland’s Tourism Minister, said: “The Year of Natural Scotland was about inspiring our people and visitors to celebrate Scotland’s outstanding natural beauty, landscapes and biodiversity and to discover or rediscover the natural attraction of the country.

“I am delighted these early headline results point to the Year having been a great success, particularly as we prepare to invite the world to join us in celebrating our second Year of Homecoming, a year-long programme of events that will serve to promote the very best of Scotland’s food and drink, our assets as a country of natural beauty as well as our rich creativity and cultural and ancestral heritage.”


*Great Britain Tourism Survey (GBTS)

For further information contact:
Tom Maxwell, Corporate Press Officer  0131 472 2409

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 has three key roles:
  1. To market Scotland to all parts of the world to attract visitors
  2. To provide information – and inspiration – to visitors and potential visitors so they get the best out of a visit to Scotland
  3. To provide quality assurance to visitors and quality advice to the industry and partners to help the industry meet and strive to exceed customer expectations
  • 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.
  • 2014 is the year Scotland welcomes the world, when it hosts the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles and more than 800 Homecoming events throughout the country.For more information on Homecoming Scotland 2014, go to 
  • The VisitScotland Information Centre network is a unique face-to-face channel engaging with around five million visitors and locals each year. Everyone who uses a VisitScotland Information Centre goes on to spend an additional £5.35, generating over £24 million for Scotland’s economy. 
  • According to a recent Deloitte study, tourism employs 270,000 people in Scotland in 20,000 diverse businesses. The same study calculates that the industry contributes £11 billion annually (direct and indirect impact, including day visits) and supports around 10 per cent of employment in Scotland. Almost 16 million tourists take overnight trips to Scotland.
  • 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
  • For more information on VisitScotland’s annual review please go to