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Shetland pony Socks wears heart on his sleeve

Press Release   •   Feb 18, 2014 00:00 GMT

A young couple on a romantic first trip to Scotland have enjoyed a special “meet and greet” with Shetland’s most famous tourism ambassador.

Londoners Chris Harrison and girlfriend Olivia Delnevo travelled to South Nesting over Valentine’s Weekend to meet Socks – the moonwalking star of Three’s hit television adverts – after winning a competition in December for the most outrageous Christmas knitwear.

A recent survey revealed that more and more visitors are falling in love with Shetland with almost 65,000 people visiting between October 2012 and September 2013, boosting the local economy by over £16.2 million.

And Chris and Olivia were able to see exactly why so many people were galloping to the island after scooping their first prize to meet Shetland’s famous furry friend.

Organised by VisitScotland, Promote Shetland and Three UK, the ‘Knitwear Before Christmas’ promotion invited people to tweet pictures of themselves in their most flamboyant Christmas jumpers.

Chris, 24, and Olivia, 25, won thanks to Chris’s outlandish festive suit which, he admits, is “the most hideous thing I’ve ever put on”!

But the couple – and Socks – looked resplendent in the Northern Isles, with all three decked out in matching “I love Shetland” Fair Isle sweaters, specially knitted by local designer Doreen Brown.

Chris said: “We’ve had a fantastic time on Shetland – but meeting Socks face-to-face has definitely been a highlight. Some people say celebrities can be difficult in real life, but Socks seems really comfortable with his fame. We’ll be wearing our new jumpers with pride when we get home!”

Steve Mathieson, VisitScotland’s Island Manager on Shetland, said: “We were delighted to welcome Chris and Olivia to Shetland and give them the chance to meet a bonafide island celebrity! It’s very easy to fall in love with Shetland, and I can’t imagine a better place in which to enjoy a romantic weekend.”

Deborah Leggate, Online Marketing Executive at Promote Shetland, said: “This has been a great opportunity for us to introduce Shetland to people who may not have considered visiting before. We hope Chris and Olivia have had a great time and that they will return again in the future with family and friends.”

Three UK’s mobile phone adverts followed hot on the hooves of a VisitScotland marketing campaign to launch the Year of Natural Scotland in January 2013.

VisitScotland’s pictures of jumper-clad Shetland ponies Fivla and Vitamin become an overnight global sensation, with requests flooding in from some of the world’s biggest media networks.

The ‘Knitwear Before Christmas’ competition was part of VisitScotland’s ‘Brilliant Moments’ campaign.

Launched in November, the campaign promotes Homecoming, the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup to national and international audiences through TV advertising, radio, print, outdoor and online.

People are encouraged to share their “brilliant moments” in Scotland by tweeting @Visitscotland using the hashtag: #brilliantmoments.


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 www.visitscotland.com 
  • 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 http://www.visitscotland.org/media_centre.aspx, tourism statistics and frequently asked questions go to http://www.visitscotland.org/ 
  • 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 www.visitscotland.com
  • For information about business tourism in Scotland go to www.conventionscotland.com
  • For more information on VisitScotland’s annual review please go to www.visitscotland.org/about_us/our_focus/annual_report.aspx