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Which Visitors Scotland Should Target to Rebuild Tourism Economy

Posted: 13th August 2020

A major data-crunching project led by academics at the University of Edinburgh Business School is providing Scottish tourism with a key plank of its recovery plan by showing which visitors are most interested in coming here, and most likely to be able to afford it.

The project, in association with the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group (ETAG), shows that UK visitors are the largest group interested and able to afford a visit. Businesses should therefore target their marketing at domestic audiences in these early days of recovery.

Visitors from Germany show strong interest and can afford it. They are not required to self-isolate on arrival. They should be the first international markets to target.

Austria, France, Greece, Hungary, and Poland should be targeted next. This is because visitors from those countries show interest in visiting and they are exempt from mandatory self-isolation upon arrival to the UK.

To ensure that as many businesses as possible can benefit from the Business School’s research, a visualisation tool has been developed and is freely available online.

This colour-coded global map will provide monthly updates on key visitor markets as new data becomes available. Tourism businesses are encouraged to use the tool regularly to monitor changes over time.

The project was led by Dr Ewelina Lacka, lecturer in digital marketing and analytics at the University of Edinburgh Business School:

“We used data from internet search engines, consumer confidence indexes, web traffic, and information from members of the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group to help build a strong picture of where marketing is best targeted in the weeks and months ahead. Getting information on consumer confidence is key as we enter a long period of economic uncertainty. Tourism businesses need to know whether people are likely to spend on visits, not just whether they are interested.

“Although international travel will resume, the domestic market will play a key role for some time. And although the US represents the second-largest visitor group to Scotland, it is worth noting web traffic data indicates that although they are interested in visiting, they don’t seem to be making firm travel plans.

“Instead, it seems clear that Germany should be the first overseas market that tourism businesses in Edinburgh and across Scotland prepare to target. The visitor economy is of crucial importance to Edinburgh and Scotland, and I hope the material we have produced inspires business owners in their recovery plans.”

Ewelina Lacka is Lecturer in Digital Marketing and Analytics at the University of Edinburgh Business School

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