With an eventful 2014 drawing plenty of international attention to Scotland, the coming year will be the time to capitalize on that notoriety in terms of travel, according to Visit Scotland.
Richard Knight, Visit Scotland’s Director of Marketing – Americas, sat down with PAX recently to recap the last year and look ahead to 2015.
The last year saw Scotland in the international spotlight numerous times, said Knight. In addition to successfully hosting the 2014 editions of both the Ryder’s Cup golf tournament and the Commonwealth Games, the country also received plenty of attention regarding its independence vote, which ultimately resulted in Scotland voting overwhelmingly to remain part of the U.K. Aside from inquiries about what effects independence may have on currency, Knight said there was never any worry that it would greatly affect travel to the country.
“It was very much business as usual,” said Knight, regarding the lack of impact from Scotland’s looming independence earlier this fall. “However, the one thing that this referendum did is put Scotland on the global stage.”
Currently, Knight said that more than four million pounds’ worth of construction investments are currently underway in Scotland, ranging from new venues (including a new conference centre at the famed Gleneagles golf course) and hotels to upgraded transportation infrastructure, providing more MICE travel opportunities to the country in the near future.
Knight said that 2015 is being celebrated as “the year of food and drink,” citing the country’s exports of whiskey and seafood, as well as the presence of 15 Michelin-starred restaurants, contributing to Scotland’s important gastrotourism market, Knight said.
Knight said that as Scotland commemorates achievements in innovation and architecture for 2016, opportunities for increased business travel have become present. In addition to good exchange rates, Knight said that companies in industries with historic ties to the country, such as medicine (Scottish scientist Alexander Flemming is credited with discovering penicillin, and several contributions to modern surgery are also credited to Scottish doctors), may want to consider that connection when discussing potential conference locations.
“2014 won’t happen again – it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Knight. “It’s all about not taking our eye of the ball in 2015 – and into 2020, 2025 and beyond.”
PHOTO: Richard Knight, Director of Marketing (Americas), Visit Scotland; Krystal Carter, Senior Account Executive -Tourism Practice, Development Counsellors International.