Skip to main content

Wild West Star

Press Release   •   Nov 10, 2016 14:21 GMT

David Adams McGilp, VisitScotland Regional Director, with Experience Scotland's Wild founder John Stevenson

A one-man adventure operation that specialises in ‘sight-doing’ has received Scottish tourism’s highest accolade.

After its very first assessment, Experience Scotland’s Wild, which was set up by Balloch tour guide John Stevenson in May, has become one of only ten tours outside of Edinburgh to receive VisitScotland’s five-star Quality Assurance (QA) award.

The QA scheme is a benchmark for quality across the tourism industry and operates across accommodation, visitor attractions and food sectors.

Having felt like a “caged animal” in an office job, John now enjoys guiding visitors from around the globe through the great expanse of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. An experienced traveller, who has visited the fjords of New Zealand and the beaches of Hawaii, John maintains Loch Lomond is his favourite place and is committed to showing others exactly what make it special.

John also offers detailed help and itineraries for those wanting a self-guided walk of the West Highland Way – a service he intends to develop into a guided trek. He also wants to expand his day excursions into other parts of Scotland.

John said:
“To receive a five-star tour award on first application is awesome, really awesome. Experience Scotland’s Wild is not about sight-seeing, it’s about sight-doing. I like to takepeople off the beaten track so they can truly experience and immerse themselves in Scotland’s beautiful landscapes. Getting this fantastic recognition is very exciting and shows that all the hard work has paid off.”

David Adams McGilp, Regional Director at VisitScotland said:

“To get a five-star grading from VisitScotland’s world-leading Quality Assurance Scheme is a superb achievement, but to get it at the very first time of asking is rare. I would like to congratulate John on his outstanding success. Experience Scotland’s Wild is a brilliant and unique way for visitors from all over the world to experience what Loch Lomond has to offer and I wish the company every success in the future.”

VisitScotland Quality Assurance awards are indicators of quality and provide reassurance to visitors. The national tourism organisation offers support to businesses to ensure they meet and exceed the high standards expected by visitors.

To find out more about Experience Scotland’s Wild, go to

For more information about VisitScotland’s Quality Asssurance Scheme, go to:

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