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Highland tourist industry could be impacted as largest showcase for Scotland cancelled due to coronavirus

By Louise Glen

The organisers of VisitScotland Expo 2020, a major showcase of the Scottish tourist industry, have announced that the event has been cancelled.

The event, which attracts tourism buyers from across the globe, was due to be held on April 1 and 2 in Aberdeen.

VisitScotland Expo is Scotland’s flagship event for the travel trade and the only travel trade fair which exclusively promotes Scotland.

Expo enables Scottish tourism businesses to promote their products and services to potential buyers from around the globe. In 2019 there were 340 exhibiting companies with 544 buyers from around the globe.

Last year representative from across the Highlands, including from Inverness, attended the event.

In a statement from Visit Scotland's chief executive Malcolm Roughead, he said: "Due to a significant number of cancellations caused by coronavirus it is with regret that VisitScotland has decided to cancel this year’s VisitScotland Expo that was due to take place on 1 and 2 April in Aberdeen.

"As a major international event, with more than 2,000 attendees from around 30 countries, this decision was not taken lightly. Expo was on course to be a great success at a brand new and exciting venue, so we are disappointed for all the buyers, exhibitors and staff.

"We have been monitoring the situation for some time but it is clear that we are already seeing significant cancellations from key countries, as well as concerned enquiries about the event and hesitancy from attendees to travel. With the numbers of cases of coronavirus increasing across the world, we did not want to contribute to its potential spread across Scotland and beyond.

"We will continue to connect buyers and the tourism industry and are currently developing ideas about how we can use technology and digital channels to make those connections - but we won’t be able to physically run the event this year. We are already looking at how we can further support the tourism industry going forward and will continue to monitor the situation on a daily basis.

"We will make an announcement regarding next year's Expo in the near future."

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