Scottish tourism businesses are being encouraged to ‘keep it natural’ today, as VisitScotland launches a £150,000 cash fund to boost marketing projects themed around the Year of Natural Scotland 2013.
The National Tourism Organisation has marked the launch of the next focus year, which will kick off formally on 01 January 2013, by opening up a dedicated Year of Natural Scotland Growth Fund. The fund is open from today and will give industry groups a chance to link their offerings to the Year of Natural Scotland and capitalise on the opportunities it will create.
Research shows that nature-based activities are worth nearly 40% of all tourism spending in Scotland. And with the value of wildlife tourism being estimated at over £270 million, VisitScotland is encouraging the tourism industry to think about ways in which they can make the next focus year work for them.
Open to destination organisations and industry groups, the VisitScotland Natural Growth Fund will support inspiring marketing projects which showcase Scotland’s unique natural environment and support the growth of tourism spend in every corner of the country.
Whether promoting places which are off the beaten track, creating itineraries for rural wildlife walks or developing nature trails through the city, the fund is hoping to attract interest from groups the length and breadth of Scotland and encourages people to think creatively about what Scotland’s natural assets mean to them. And it’s not just about wildlife - walking festivals, Scotland’s natural larder and beaches will also be spotlighted.
VisitScotland chairman Mike Cantlay says: “The Year of Natural Scotland is an opportunity to work together and promote our natural assets. This also means getting those who live here already to appreciate the great natural icons they have right on their own doorstep and think about how we can take what Scotland does best - scenery, landscapes and stunning natural beauty - and help put more cash in the till.”
The VisitScotland Natural Growth Fund coincides with the launch of a special industry toolkit which tourism businesses can download from the VisitScotland corporate website http://www.visitscotland.org toolkit includes logos and images, and features a range of marketing tools to help businesses embrace the promotional opportunities of this yearlong focus on Scotland’s natural assets. It provides a one-stop shop to access and download material to help the tourism industry engage with the Year of Natural Scotland 2013.
Alison Bell, principal communications adviser with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), one of around 16 partners already on board with the Year of Natural Scotland, welcomed the fund:
“This fund will allow forward-thinkers in the tourism industry to highlight the natural heritage of our country,” she confirmed. “So Year of Natural Scotland is naturally ideal for everyone to get out there and enjoy the plants, animals and landscapes we have.
“If you don’t have time to tackle that hill you’ve always promised yourself, why not take the opportunity during the Year of Natural Scotland to visit your own Local Nature Reserve or park, field, moorland, or even your own garden – and look at it through fresh eyes. We know that experiencing nature is a factor in our nation’s health and well-being and we are committed to helping people get out there and enjoy it.”
Fergus Ewing, Scottish Government Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism:
“The Year of Natural Scotland is an opportunity to spotlight, celebrate and promote Scotland’s outstanding natural beauty and landscapes. We can also inspire the people of Scotland and our visitors to experience and participate in Scotland’s natural heritage at festivals and events, natural tourism attractions and outdoor locations.
“It will promote the contribution of Scotland’s nature and landscapes to making our country a better place to live, work and visit and help to ensure our nature and landscape are seen as assets which contribute to the Scottish economy. Importantly, it will ensure momentum is maintained on celebrating some of Scotland’s greatest assets as we progress towards 2014, when the staging of a second Year of Homecoming, Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup will ensure Scotland is centre stage in world terms.”