Tourism Conference sets out plans to grow visitor spend to £1 billion per year by 2023

The North-east of Scotland will play a principal role in the country’s national tourism growth strategy, with a plan to contribute £1billion a year into the Scottish visitor economy it was revealed at yesterday’s (20 March) VisitAberdeenshire tourism conference.

The annual event, backed by principal sponsor Aberdeen Harbour Board and support sponsor NorthLink Ferries, is the largest tourism conference of its kind in the region, attracting 200 delegates from a wide cross section of tourism businesses. Industry leaders provided keynote speeches to the sell-out audience on how the industry can collaborate and grow the visitor economy. The event also saw the launch of the new destination strategy for the North-east which sets out a plan to grow visitor spend in the region to £1billion a year by 2023.

Chris Foy, chief executive of VisitAberdeenshire said, “It’s fantastic to see our conference attract local tourism businesses in record numbers. As a visitor destination the North-east has an enormous growth opportunity, and as a sector we all have a role to play in achieving an ambitious target over the next five years.  The new strategy sets out a shared agenda for businesses of all sizes, along with agencies and authorities who have a stake in the future of tourism in the North-east. The new strategy comes at a time when visitors’ appetite to experience Scotland is growing, with the latest figures showing over 3.5million overnight trips were made in quarter three of 2017. With hotel accommodation demand exceeding supply in other parts of the country, this is a great opportunity for Aberdeenshire to increase its share of the market.”

Chris Bain, external relations director of Aberdeen Harbour Board said, “Aberdeen Harbour Board is delighted to be principal sponsor for this event. Scotland as a tourist destination is seeing a real increase in popularity, and Aberdeen City and Shire have an incredible opportunity to benefit from this. The ability to bring large cruise vessels into the heart of the region from 2020 onwards only adds to this incredible potential, and we believe that through working together we can maximise the benefits that this market represents.”

Jennifer Craw, chief executive of Opportunity North East commented, “The VisitAberdeenshire conference harnessed the ambition for the future of the visitor economy. From major transformational projects underway including the new Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre and Aberdeen harbour extension, to new projects underdevelopment like the North East 250, Greyhope Bay and the North East Trail Centre. What is clear from today is the energy, passion and drive to work together and collaborate to grow this vital sector of the North-east economy. VisitAberdeenshire is perfectly positioned to build on this.”

The event featured keynote speakers from leading industry professionals including: Andrew Wilson, Charlotte Street Partners; Jennifer Craw, Opportunity North East; John Sharkey, SMG Europe; Sally Greenhill, The Right Solution Ltd; Chris Foy, VisitAberdeenshire; Peter Jordan, Toposophy; Duncan Cockburn, Culture Aberdeen; Liz McIntyre, NESCOL.

The destination strategy will be available to download at the VisitAberdeenshire website soon, where industry will be welcomed to provide feedback.

VisitAberdeenshire is the lead tourism agency for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. It promotes fantastic visitor experiences in North-east Scotland to targeted audiences in the UK and overseas. It also works to develop the visitor economy through initiatives that help tourism businesses to understand, and meet demand from an ever-changing market to strengthen the region’s position as a world-class tourism destination. VisitAberdeenshire is funded by Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeenshire Council, Scottish Enterprise and Opportunity North East.   

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