by Bob Gledhill, Northern Editor
The Scottish Tourist Board (STB) last week launched a £1.4m advertising campaign aimed at taking a larger share of the English holiday market, which currently accounts for 40% of the £2b Scotland earns from tourism.
The campaign, using press and television advertising, will also reveal a completely new image for Scotland. Gone is the traditional use of tartan, haggis and bagpipes and in their place comes Scotland as a place where the sophisticated, environmentally concerned, two-child family goes.
The bold departure from traditional Scottish imagery was explained by the STB's new chief executive, Derek Reid, as the result of research which showed clearly that while the tartan and bagpipes image worked for overseas tourism and would be retained for that purpose, it was not attractive to the English market.
Mr Reid also revealed the STB would no longer seek to heavily promote Scotland as a main holiday destination for the English. He acknowledged that the country could not successfully compete with guaranteed sunshine holidays. Instead, the STB would be selling it much more as a short-break, second holiday choice.
The most visible sign of the switch in image is the style of the advertisement now being shown on English television. It shows an affluent young couple in dramatic Scottish settings, with no dialogue, but an echoing chorus instead.
Mr Reid delivered a thinly veiled attack on the way the STB had run its UK promotion campaigns in the past, accusing it of flitting from one idea to another.
"We have had four different consumer messages over the past five years. This is not the way to create Scotland the brand," said Mr Reid. "Major brands are created by years of sustained development and they depend absolutely on sticking to core values."
Part of the new branding exercise is a new logo, colour scheme and thistle emblem for Scottish tourism. This will now appear on the cover of all Scottish tourist publications, replacing the present system whereby every regional and local tourist department produces its own branding with no national linkage.
Mr Reid also warned that unless funding for marketing was increased from its present annual figure of £7.5m to £14.5m, tourism growth would be no more than 1%.
He said growth of 5% from overseas and 1.5% from the UK market was attainable, but only if the industry put in the extra £7m.
The STB is particularly concerned that Ireland is showing sustained growth in overseas tourism with what Mr Reid described as a similar product. Ireland has now overtaken Scotland in tourism earnings, compared with a £1b gap in Scotland's favour seven years ago.