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Business / Tourism event a ‘great success’

Photo: Shetland News

AN EVENT aimed at reconnecting Scottish businesses with global tour operators and travel agents has been hailed as a success by Shetland tourism leaders.

The Scotland Reconnect 2021 event – organised and run by VisitScotland – took place at the end of April and saw over 7,000 pre-arranged business meetings take place.

Almost 390 buyers from 26 countries connected online with almost 300 Scottish suppliers for business meetings aimed at booking and creating tour packages for future visitors.

It came as tourism was opened up again in Scotland on 26 April.

Local VisitScotland development manager Steve Mathieson said the event was a “great success at a time when reconnecting our tourism businesses from across Shetland with tour operators and travel agents in vital international markets has never been so important”.

“This last 12 months has been devastating for tourism across the world but hopefully as travel restrictions ease, we can begin to plan some brilliant new Shetland-based programmes, products and itineraries for our international operators,” he said.

“I understand some fantastic and very valuable new connections have been made during the many 1-2-1 Scotland Reconnect appointments and I hope our buyers were both inspired and informed about our unique islands through the regional destination showcases and panelist sessions.

“VisitScotland is focused on the recovery of the industry, building a destination and visitor experience which allows tourism and events to flourish now and in the future. We’ll continue to work with, and support, businesses to ensure we rebuild this vital part of our economy.”

Promote Shetland was one of the participants and manager David Nicol said the organisation spoke “directly to a range of industry representatives from all over the world”.

“In addition to giving us a chance to answer questions, these meetings also enabled us to gather relevant information about wider market trends to use in our own planning, and to pass on to the Shetland Tourism Association,” he added.

“The 2021 event saw the introduction of a new ‘showcase’ session too, which we very much enjoyed taking part in. The attendees seemed very impressed by what Shetland has to offer and this bodes well for the tourism sector recovering quickly as we move beyond the current restrictions.”

Mathieson, meanwhile, said no figures are available on the number of tourists who have come to Shetland since travel reopened in late April, but forward bookings for sectors like accommodation have been positive.