by Peter J. Bates

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Reinvention of Scotland

When you think of Scotland, world-class golf, tartan kilts and Sir Sean Connery might immediately come to mind – and they rightfully should! The fabric of Scottish culture is rich and dynamic, and the country has certainly made a name for itself on the world stage. What you might not realize, though, is that Scotland is actually a very ‘young country’ – its Parliament is only 10 years old following devolution in 1999 (when the Government of Scotland was given power to handle most of the country’s day-to-day issues including health, education, justice, rural affairs and transport).

With its newfound youth comes the opportunity for re-invention. This doesn’t mean that what has come to represent Scotland on so many levels gets dismissed. Instead, the new country that is emerging gets to embrace its distinguishing characteristics and showcase new aspects that celebrate not only the present, but the future of Scotland.

The strength of Scotland’s youth has generated a more powerful cooperative spirit, particularly among its tourism partners. This is particularly evidenced by the very successful Virtuoso Chairman’s Recognition Event, which was held in October 2009 at The Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland. Government officials, hotel and tourism executives, and various other partners worked for two years to put this event together. Their collaborative efforts demonstrated how triumphant the results can be when partners work together toward a singular goal of driving tourism to Scotland. Tourism yields tremendous benefits, including the generation of jobs and revenue as well as allows those who call Scotland ‘home’ to share a wealth of culture and sightseeing with travelers from around the world.

Bringing the Virtuoso Chairman’s Event to Scotland was a big coup for the country. Delivering on the promise of a spectacular itinerary was an even more significant landmark. The event’s success was due largely to the steadfast and tireless efforts of partners such as VisitScotland, Gleneagles, Connoisseurs Scotland, Crystal Cruises, One & Only Resorts, Alliance Wines, Glenturret Distillery, Ian McIntosh Travel, Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Perry Golf, Scone Palace, The Royal Yacht Britannia, Classic Malts, Highland Spring, and about 15 others.

For this event, Scotland welcomed a contingent of 78 top revenue-producing Virtuoso travel agency owners and managers from around the world – exclusively responsible for generating $1.8 billion in global travel sales in the past year. Agents represented the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Australia and the Dominican Republic (spanning more than 60 different agencies). Gleneagles was the host hotel. Jim Mather, Minister for Enterprise, Energy and Tourism, was also a part of the celebration – he attended a Scottish culinary extravaganza in Gleneagles’ ballroom.

The event was recently written up as a major cover story in Incentive (the March 2010 issue of the magazine). Click here to read the story (running pages 8 – 12).

Welcoming the Virtuoso Chairman’s Event to Scotland was actually a very innovative way of encouraging tourism to the country. Showcasing what makes Scotland unique and special to such an elite group of travel advisors – who are trusted sellers of travel to their clients – is smart business.

Having been involved in the planning of this event from the beginning, I can truly say that Scotland was one of the best hosts I’ve ever encountered. It was a privilege to work with a collection of partners that never strived for anything less than superior satisfaction on every level. I was extremely inspired by the energy, enthusiasm and creativity of such a ‘young country,’ and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

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