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Online trade show will reconnect the Highlands with the world


By Calum MacLeod

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Scotland Reconnect will link Highland tourism businesses with tour operators around the globe.
Scotland Reconnect will link Highland tourism businesses with tour operators around the globe.

VisitScotland is linking around 20 Highland tourism businesses with global tour operators and travel agents through a brand-new pilot virtual event – Scotland Reconnect 2020.

The first online trade event of its kind to be delivered by the national tourism organisation, Scotland Reconnect 2020 takes place from November 23 to 25 and offers international travel agents and tour operators the opportunity to connect and do business with Scottish suppliers online.

Businesses from around Scotland are taking part, but include well known Highland names such as Loch Ness by Jacobite, the Kingsmills Hotel Group, Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd, Assynt House, Cruise Loch Ness, Cairngorms Business Partnership, Cawdor Castle Ltd, Speyside Wildlife and Skye Connect.

Buyers from the USA, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands, Scandinavia, Australia and Brazil have siged up to Scotland Reconnect 2020, as well as London-based inbound operators representing the Japanese and Chinese markets.

In addition to facilitating some 4000 business meetings, there will also be live webinars, round table discussions and breakout sessions, an online presentation hub and virtual experiences demonstrating what Scotland can offer buyers’ clients, including trad music sessions with Gary Innes from top trad band Manran, whisky tasting experiences with Glengoyne Distillery and The Whisky Experience, as well as storytelling with Mercat Tours.

Lord Thurso, VisitScotland’s chairman, will open and close Scotland Reconnect 2020 and participants signed up to the event will also be able to hear from global tourism speakers and take part in round table discussions when VisitScotland’s head of engagement Denise Hill is in conversation with Tom Jenkins, chief executive of the European Tour Operators Association on the impact of Brexit on the German and US markets, and Joss Croft, the CEO of UK Inbound, looks ahead to 2021 and considers what businesses need to do to address current issues and challenges in global tourism.

VisitScotland’s senior tourism insight manager, Chris Greenwood, will also run sessions on global trends and Covid-time consumer behaviour. Responsible travel, a theme of growing importance among travellers around the globe, will also feature on the agenda, as will the promotion of initiatives including Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020.

Accordionist Gary Innes from the band Manran will be leading some traditional music sessions.
Accordionist Gary Innes from the band Manran will be leading some traditional music sessions.

Chris Taylor, VisitScotland's regional leadership director, said: “This year has been extremely challenging for tourism businesses not only in the Highlands but right across Scotland.

“The Highlands have always been top of the visitor destination list and Covid-19 will not change that. Demand for 2021 / 2022 is building and the Highlands remain a priority for our international markets.

“I am delighted that Scotland Reconnect 2020 has been created using our new online platform to ensure that businesses can continue to engage and convert that continuing interest into visits. We look forward to reconnecting international buyers with our amazing Highland tourism businesses, to demonstrate the strong tourism product this region has to offer, to secure business for the future as we hope for recovery of our international markets in 2021 and beyond.”

Joyce Arbuckle, director of sales for Inverness's Kingsmills Group, said: “Scotland Reconnect 2020 feels like a pivotal moment for us, after the longest and hardest of years for our industry. Thankfully, the Highlands has fared better than many through this difficult time and we are hugely grateful for that. Scotland Reconnect 2020 will allow us to plan for recovery in 2021 and beyond.”

Jill Hampton, account manager for Scotrail, added: “After a difficult year we are delighted to be part of this virtual event to reconnect with businesses across the globe to showcase what a fantastic country Scotland is. We look forward to our beautiful country being fully reopen for business and this event will be a great opportunity to help international and domestic buyers plan and organise their trips for 2021 and beyond.”



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