Positive outlook for tourism in the region

Wednesday March 22nd 2023


Popular tourist destination Midlothian's Rossyln Chapel in Roslin.

This View has been written by VisitScotland Regional Director Neil Christison.

VisitScotland Regional Director Neil Christison said: “It is fair to say that the last three years have been incredibly challenging for our tourism and events industry. Since the first COVID-19 national lockdown and subsequent months of restrictions, we are still navigating our way through the additional pressures being faced through the cost of doing business and staffing shortages.

Despite this, as we approach the start of the traditional tourism season in Scotland with the Easter holidays almost upon us, I am buoyed by the positivity and passion on display throughout the industry.

We hosted the Scottish Thistle Awards National Final in February for the first time in three years. I would like to congratulate all the regional finalists representing Edinburgh and the Lothians on the night, in particular Edinburgh International Festival and A Toast to Gaia that went on to be crowned national winners.

At a strategic level, it is really encouraging to see the prominence of the visitor economy within Edinburgh & South East Scotland’s new Regional Prosperity Framework Delivery Plan. This, coupled with Edinburgh’s new visitor economy action plan offer us a real opportunity to work together to help grow, develop and add value to the capital and wider region’s visitor economy in a responsible way.

We are committed at VisitScotland to ensuring that Scotland remains top of mind for visitors. Through campaigns, such as Scotland’s UNESCO Trail and the development of our global website www.visitscotland.com we aim to showcase the vast range of experiences on offer to people from around the world.

Early signs suggest encouraging interest in Scotland for this summer, including from international visitors. The news that there will be a twice daily service between Edinburgh and New York during the peak summer season is a major boost for the city and the country. International visitors tend to stay longer and spend more in our local communities, so every region and destination stands to benefit from this interest.

And at a local level, we are working with regional tourism organisations to support their own marketing campaigns and business and product development as we prepare for the season ahead. There has been great success in East Lothian to manage visitors during peak times. Recent improvements to the facilities at Gullane and Longniddry Bents – funded through the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund have been well very received. Visitors to the local area are also encouraged to download the free Visit East Lothian App to get up to date information on coastal car parks and accessibility. We’re also working with East Lothian Council and AccessAble in East Lothian to produce detailed access guides for the region – watch this space for more information later this year.

Yes, there are still challenges, there always will be, but there is good reason for optimism too. There remains significant investment in quality tourism in the region – the Scotch Whisky Experience, the opening of the W hotel and other hotel investment in the capital city, Scotland’s first inland wave destination, Wavegarden, at Ratho and Penicuik Estate’s 50-year vision, to name just a few.

As we near Easter and visitors start to become a visible part of our communities, I want to remind those in tourism and events of how far we have come, what we have achieved over these difficult few years and what opportunities lie ahead. Tourism is a force for good and Scottish Tourism Month is a fitting reminder of that.   

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