Our focus on tourism 

We will build a more competitive tourism economy, where collaboration is widely used to create growth by helping to improve visitor experiences and exploit market opportunities. 

Digital is a cross cutting theme. We will maximise the opportunities presented by digital tourism to help drive sales, open new markets, reduce costs and increase productivity.

A strong tourism sector in the Highlands and Islands can help create more resilient rural communities. If we get it right, tourism will help support a vibrant regional identity which attracts people to live, work, invest and visit our region.

What will success look like?

Over the course of 2016 – 19 we aim to deliver the following:

  • A step change in the use of digital technology across the region. It will enable businesses to collaborate, to reach new markets, improve the visitor experience and create operating efficiencies.
  • The Highlands and Islands will be recognised as one of the best places in the world for adventure tourism.
  • Spend from international markets will be driving growth in businesses and in more of our key tourism assets.
  • We will have a strong range of high quality tourism products, well suited to the needs of growth markets.

Tourism Scotland 2020 vision 

Tourism Scotland 2020 is a strategy focused on quality and growth devised for the tourism industry by the tourism industry.

The Tourism Industry Leadership Group has developed the strategy, a collaborative effort from right across Scotland's tourism industry. It has quality, value for money and exceeding customer expectations at its core.

The strategy's common goal, is to make Scotland a quality destination of 'first choice', where the nation's outstanding tourism assets, such as nature, heritage, and destination towns and cities, are maximised to their full potential and turned into rich experiences for visitors.

Tourism is already one of Scotland's strongest economic contributors, with overnight visits generating in excess of £4.5 billion annually and day visits adding a further £6.2 billion. Given that tourism accounts for some 200,000 jobs across 20,000 businesses, the strategy's emphasis on collective action and common goals is critical.

So too is the need to know our markets and work together to get our messages across, making much greater use of the powerful Scottish tourism brand across our range of visitor experiences.

The strategy, which aims to achieve an overnight visitor spend of between £5.5bn and £6.5bn by 2020, generating an additional £1 billion or more, looks at the importance of raising and maintaining high levels of quality and customer service - in particular addressing any variations in quality when it comes to accommodation, eating out, travelling, internet and mobile phone coverage. It calls on the industry to commit to gaining and enhancing the relevant skills, knowledge and customer-focused attitude required to deliver consistently high quality experiences for every type of visitor.

The strategy development has been supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), VisitScotland, Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Government. 


Scotland is a major attraction for companies looking to invest in several types of development, particularly around golf and resort developments. Scottish tourism shows consistent and sustained growth, and it's predicted to continue, creating further growth opportunities in areas such as:

  • City hotels
  • Resorts
  • Spas and resort marinas
  • Cultural tourism

Scotland is setting the pace in the UK with regard to sustainable tourism development, attracting prestigious brands and providing an environment in which new concepts will flourish. While new tourism projects are planned or in progress, demand is outstripping supply and further developments are required.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) works in partnership with Scottish Development International (SDI), local councils and regional partners to develop propositions which are then taken to market to attract inward investment to the area.

In partnership with SDI, and working through account managers, we also provide a toolkit of support to help businesses with international trade. This support is for every stage of a business's international growth from researching and identifying target markets and working out a strategy, to accessing skilled managers and getting out into the market through exhibitions and trade missions.

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