VisitScotland and VisitFlanders to share best practices

VisitScotland and VisitFlanders to share best practices

EDINBURGH, 2017-Jan-26 — /Travel PR News/ — VisitScotland has signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to share best practice with one of its European counterparts.

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, yesterday witnessed the signing of the renewed agreement by Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of the national tourism organisation, and Peter De Wilde, CEO of VisitFlanders, at the Scottish Parliament.

The Belgian region is a world leader in social tourism, helping 150,000 disadvantaged people a year to enjoy a break. The existing MoU between the tourism organisations helped inspire VisitScotland’s own delivery of two successful social tourism pilots in 2016, which last year helped 979 people get a much-needed short break or day trip in Scotland.

The short breaks and daytrips were provided by accommodation, transport and activity providers, as well as strategic partners across the public sector, after an approach by VisitScotland in February as part of a drive to illustrate the true Spirit of Scotland or #ScotSpirit through the warmth and generosity of the people.

With one in three people in Scotland unable to take a holiday due to cost, ill-health or caring responsibilities, VisitScotland is working with businesses to explore how Scottish tourism can help even more people to take a break in Scotland.

In return for the social tourism expertise from VisitFlanders, VisitScotland has shared its longstanding and globally recognised expertise in quality development and supporting industry through its Quality Assurance scheme. This has inspired VisitFlanders to revise its own scheme and make it more focused on quality and the visitor experience.

Both parties have now agreed to refresh and update the MoU and expand its scope to include exchange of best practice on the following areas: partnership engagement; tourism investment and development; and events tourism.

The agreement follows a similar MoU VisitScotland signed with the Icelandic Tourist Board last year.

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, said: “I am delighted to see VisitScotland engaging so successfully with our European counterparts, raising Scotland’s profile and at the same time exchanging best practice for mutual benefit. This information sharing agreement with VisitFlanders is a great example of co-operation, with tangible benefits on both sides.

“Inclusive tourism is important and I am particularly excited to see that the agreement enables VisitScotland to be inspired by Flanders’ longstanding experience in social tourism, which helps an additional 150,000 people a year enjoy a break. Tackling inequality and competitiveness are at the heart of Scottish Government strategy, and it’s exciting to consider the potential of social tourism in Scotland.”

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said: “Scotland is an inclusive, welcoming destination, where barriers to visiting are broken down and communities in every corner of the country benefit from jobs and economic growth. Everyone should have the opportunity to have a holiday.

“We want to make it as easy as possible for people from all backgrounds to discover Scotland. With this renewed Memorandum of Understanding between VisitScotland and VisitFlanders, we hope that the Scottish tourism industry will work with us to follow VisitFlanders’ lead and help even more underprivileged people to enjoy the holiday they truly deserve.”

Peter De Wilde, Chief Executive of VisitFlanders, said: “I am very pleased that our organisations have been able to inspire each other in different areas of tourism development. VisitFlanders has a long-standing tradition of social tourism, which helps make tourism more inclusive and supports the development of the industry.

“Our expertise on this is something we are happy to share with our Scottish counterparts. From my perspective, we have been inspired by VisitScotland’s world-class approach to quality development. As official tourism bodies facing similar challenges in a rapidly changing tourism environment, this exchange is a mutually beneficial partnership.”

Notes to Editors

  • Follow us on twitter: @visitscotnews
  • VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
  • The organisation’s core objective is to contribute to the Tourism 2020 Strategy ambition of growing tourism revenues by £1 billion by 2020.
  • This will be supported by seven overarching strategies:
    1. Marketing: we will market Scotland and its outstanding assets to visitors from all parts of the world, including the promotion of Scotland to people living in Scotland to visit different parts of the country
    2. Events: we will support the national events strategy and its delivery, and sustain, develop and promote Scotland’s international profile as one of the world’s foremost events destinations
    3. Internationalisation and International Engagement: we will utilise all our platforms to enable Scottish-based tourism businesses to better understand international opportunities and market to a global audience and we will work within One Scotland Partnerships to optimise the potential of Scotland’s Diaspora and our strategic partners at regional, European and global levels
    4. Customer Experience: we will provide information and inspiration to visitors both locally and globally via their preferred medium of choice
    5. Quality and Sustainability: we will provide support and advice to businesses, with the goal of improving the quality and sustainability of the tourism sector in Scotland. We will provide quality assurance to visitors through our Quality Schemes
    6. Inclusive Tourism: we will strive to make tourism in Scotland inclusive and available to all
    7. Working in Partnership: we will listen to and work with the industry, partners and communities to shape our offering and support
  • VisitScotland works together with tourism businesses to make tourism a success for everyone and ensure the industry continues to grow.
  • The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
  • Spending by tourists in Scotland generates around £12 billion of economic activity in the wider Scottish supply chain and contributes around £6 billion to Scottish GDP (in basic prices). This represents about 5% of total Scottish GDP.
  • The Scottish Government is the Managing Authority for the European Structural Funds 2014-20 Programme. For further information visit or follow @scotgovESIF
  • For VisitScotland’s press releases go to, tourism statistics and frequently asked questions go to
  • Where possible, a Gaelic speaker will be made available for broadcast interviews on request (Far an tèid iarraidh, agus far am bheil sin nar comas, bruidhinnidh neach le Gàidhlig aig agallamh)
  • For holiday information on Scotland go to
  • For information about business events in Scotland go to

2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology

  • 2017 is the year to delve into the past and discover Scotland’s fascinating stories through a wide-ranging variety of new and existing activity to drive the nation’s tourism and events sector, boosting tourism across Scotland.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology begins on 1 January 2017 and will end on 31 December 2017. It will build on the momentum generated by previous themed years in Scotland including the 2015 Year of Food and Drink, Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Creative Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Built Environment Forum Scotland, Heritage Lottery Fund, Museums Galleries Scotland and Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is supported by £570,000 of Scottish Government funding.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
  • For more information visit or join the conversation at #HHA2017


Tom Maxwell

  • Corporate Press Officer – National
  • Film Tourism, International Initiatives, Travel Trade, Growth Fund, Accessibility, Expo
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