Caledonian calendar: Use events to sell Scotland

Caledonian calendar: Use events to sell Scotland

Kyleakin harbour, Isle of Skye. Photo: P. Tomkins/VisitScotland

Next month an estimated four million people will head to Edinburgh for the spectacular Military Tattoo and Edinburgh Festival, a series of events that run through to September and make up the world’s biggest arts festival.

Outside the headline-grabbing acts of the famous Fringe Festival there are many other opportunities for agents to send clients north of the border.

“Scotland is becoming more popular as a holiday destination,” says Ashley Dellow, head of retail sales at Leger Holidays. “It offers a diverse range of experiences for customers, including beautiful scenery, adventure, historical places of interest, events and culture. Scotland appeals to all ages and to all tastes.”

Leger can offer special discounts to support promotional days and Dellow advises agents to familiarise themselves with the destination by looking at the operator’s website, which includes videos and customer feedback.

Rail-inclusive deals offered with East Coast Railways have helped Edinburgh remain a top seller for Superbreak. National sales manager Graham Balmforth says: “It’s important for agents to remember that adding our rail deals to a hotel stay in Scotland offers excellent value for money for customers and extra commission for them.”

Balmforth also urges agents to ensure they are up to speed on what shows are heading to Edinburgh as customers in the north of England may prefer to go to Scotland to see a show rather than London. “Legally Blonde and Sister Act will be showing in Edinburgh and provide another great reason to visit,” he says.

Scotland is a traditional favourite with Grand UK Holidays’ customers and the operator has added dates to its Road to the Isles train tour.

“Travelling by train is an increasingly popular option and appeals to the over-55s market,” says Neal Fletcher, customers and operations director. “Sales of air holidays have also improved this year, offering the chance to see Scotland without a long coach journey.”

Despite this, Fletcher says escorted coach tours are also proving popular as they offer a value-for-money way to see the sights without the customer having to do any driving, along with two-centre holidays such as the new Islands & Highlands Adventure tour.


The Military Tattoo and Edinburgh Festival are major draws, running from the beginning of August to September 29. Leger Holidays has three-day breaks leading in at £255 and five days from £425, while Shearings has a five-day break with a visit to the Tattoo from £369.

New year celebrations in other parts of the UK can prove to be a damp squib compared to the Scottish equivalent, Hogmanay. The Edinburgh Hogmanay is reportedly the world’s largest new year event, stretching over four days. Operators such as Grand UK feature Hogmanay itineraries.

Another key event to wrap a package around is Burns Night. The commemoration of famous Scottish poet Robert Burns’ birthday is on January 25. A visit over this period would appeal to culture enthusiasts who will be able to listen to his words – and eat haggis – in his birthplace.

For something different, suggest a visit to coincide with the Highland games, renowned for events like tossing the caber.

Argyll’s Cowal Games – on the last weekend in August – is the largest event. Or why not check out the UK’s first static bungee jump at Nae Limits in Perthshire, where thrill-seekers jump off a bridge and plunge 130ft.

Military Tattoo, Edinburgh Castle. Photo: P. Tomkins/VisitScotland/Scottish Viewpoint
Military Tattoo, Edinburgh Castle. Photo: P. Tomkins/VisitScotland/Scottish Viewpoint


An escorted tour is the best way of seeing legendary sights such as Loch Ness, Loch Lomond and Fort William, the evocative battlefields of Culloden, Bannockburn and Glencoe and Scotland’s other top attractions. Grand UK has five new tours from this summer including Land’s End to John O’Groats by train, Scotland’s dramatic far north and the Waterways of Scotland.

Great Rail Journeys’ recently-launched Cruising by Rail 2011-2012 brochure includes the new, nine-day Highlands & Inner Hebrides holiday along the Caledonian Canal on the luxury ship Lord of the Glens, leading in at £1,898 full-board.

Other options include Trafalgar Tours’ seven-day Best of Scotland tour, priced from £825. This tour takes in key sights like the Isle of Skye, Edinburgh, Culloden, the Kyle of Lochalsh and St Andrews, with excursions including a visit to a whisky distillery.

City breaks

The main cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen, Inverness and Stirling all have a rich heritage making them ideal short-break destinations. Tourism news includes the reopening of the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh this month, following a £46 million refurbishment. And the Stirling Castle Palace has recently reopened after a £12 million project to return the apartments to how they would have looked in the mid-16th century.

Superbreak has added five hotels to its luxury programme, including Edinburgh’s Hotel Missoni and Rocpool Reserve in Inverness, both five-star properties. A distillery tour is included in many escorted tours and agents booking accommodation for independent clients can suggest a stay in Inverness to follow Speyside’s Malt Whisky Trail. Alternatively, suggest travelling in September or May when the region hosts several whisky festivals.

For clients looking for a rural getaway, Natural Retreats has launched a collection of self-catering cottages in the West Highlands. The cottages, which sleep up to eight, start from £128 a night, based on a seven-night stay.

Sample product

Grand UK Holidays’ eight-day half-board Islands & Highlands Adventure escorted tour costs £569 in September and takes in Fort William and Thurso, rail journeys to Mallaig and through the Highlands, day excursions to Skye and the Orkney Islands and return coach travel., 01603 619933

Superbreak offers short breaks at Edinburgh’s Missoni Hotel priced from £100 per person per night, on a B&B basis, for travel up to October., 0871 221 4444

Shearings offers a seven-night Great Highland Railways itinerary from £419 for travel up to October, including a trip along the Kyle Line – as featured on Michael Palin’s Great Railway Journeys – travel on the Strathspey Steam Railway and North Highland Line Railway, half-board accommodation and return coach travel., 01942 823449


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