Scotland ‘opens its arms’ with biggest ever tourism campaign

The biggest ever campaign to sell Scotland to the world has been launched – to attract new high-spending visitors, international students, major investors and “migrant talent”.

A new national brand, Scotland Is Now, has been created as part of the bid to set the country apart from its major competitors and trigger a shift in gears in the country’s global appeal and success.

Scotland will be promoted as “one of the most open countries in the world” under the campaign, the first ever joint initiative between the Scottish Government, VisitScotland, Scottish Development International and Universities Scotland.

A key message of the campaign will be that the country is willing to “opens its arms to new people to build a strong economy and culture”. Major selling points will include the number of world-leading universities Scotland boasts, its status as the UK’s second largest financial services hub after London and its high international quality of life ratings.

Andy Scott’s Kelpies sculptures in Falkirk, the Queensferry Crossing and Dundee’s new V&A museum of design will all be deployed as modern-day icons of Scotland. The new “baby box” initiative, efforts to welcome more than 2,000 refugees to Scotland in recent years, and commitments on gender equality and LGBTI rights will be used to promote Scotland overseas.

It is hoped Scotland’s biggest companies, tourism operators and the major creative industries will throw their weight behind the campaign, which is expected to run for several years.

The initiative will pitch Scotland as a country “challenging new thinking, inviting new investment, creating new opportunities, supporting new industry and driving technology that embraces humanity across the world”.

Among those featuring in the campaign are Social Bite founder Josh Littlejohn, who has led efforts to rid Scotland of homelessness, Dured Alhalabe, a Syrian refugee who has settled in Scotland, and Stephanie Inglis, the Commonwealth Games judo star who has battled back from a motorbike accident.

Mr Alhalabe said: “When I first arrived in Scotland I was afraid, because it’s a new country and it’s very different from Syria, but all those worries disappeared as I started to meet people. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming. It made me feel like I was in my own country and I was really happy.”

Around £6 million is being spent to kick start the campaign, which is launching simultaneously in New York, San Francisco, China, London and Glasgow, where VisitScotland is staging its annual international travel trade fair this week. Previous acclaimed campaigns to promote Australia, New Zealand, California and Scandinavia have all been studied as part of the year-long development of the initiative.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon launched the campaign during a visit to China.