VisitScotland seeks stronger trade ties with Mideast


VisitScotland made its first Scottish travel trade mission to the region recently in a bid to build on its strong tourism links with the Middle East.

Scotland is becoming an ever-more popular destination for tourists in the Middle East, who say that they are attracted to the country’s stunning landscapes and slower pace of life, as well as its tempting leisure opportunities such as shopping, golf and spa trips.
“Travel to Scotland from the Middle East is growing rapidly: at the moment, most of our visitors come from the UAE and Saudi Arabia: there were 15,000 in 2005, and they spent more than 250,000 nights in Scotland during their trips here,” said Melanie Angus, trade marketing manager, North America Asia Pacific, VisitScotland. “But the market is incredibly important to us, and we’re keen to work with key partners in the region to help it develop in the future.”
She said the travel trade mission helped people make links and network, and helped the tourist board use local knowledge to enhance its own expertise and know-how.
The mission saw VisitScotland and some of the most prestigious names in Scottish tourism, such as the multi award-winning Rocco Forte’s The Balmoral in Edinburgh, heading over to Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. It put tourism providers, such as hotels and golf resorts, from across Scotland face-to-face with key Middle Eastern travel agents and tour operators.
One of Scotland’s most appealing points is its heritage, including historic castles and stately homes, and its rugged landscapes, which are perfect for outdoor activities such as fishing, falconry and quad biking.
But visitors were also drawn to its cosmopolitan cities, its shops and spas, and its world-famous coastal golfing resorts such as St Andrews, Gleneagles and Turnberry.
VisitScotland is keen to get across the ease of access message to potential visitors to Scotland: In addition to Etihad Airways’s direct flight from Abu Dhabi to London, Emirate Airlines fly direct from Dubai to Glasgow daily, with a Boeing 777 providing a capacity of over 400 travellers per flight.
The popularity of Scotland as a tourist destination for UAE visitors are expected to grow in 2007, Angus said.