The record marketing push at Heathrow is aimed at significantly boosting the number of people heading north of the Border from the fast-growing Asian tourism markets.
Images of Scotland will cover all five of the airport’s passenger terminals for the first time from next month in a joint initiative with VisitScotland – timed to coincide with the festive season, one of the busiest travel periods of the year.
News of the campaign comes as Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye prepares to do battle with his Gatwick rival Stewart Wingate at an aviation conference in Glasgow over which airport will win permission to build another runway for expansion.
The UK government-appointed Airports Commission is about to launch a consultation on shortlisted options at the two airports, with a decision due next summer.
The campaign will run for three months from mid-December in an effort to encourage visitors to travel further afield during their current or future trips to the UK. It is part of a £4m VisitBritain drive which started in March.
Heathrow said around 13 million of its passengers – one in five – flew on to other parts of Britain, including on some 36 flights a day to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.
Mr Holland-Kaye said: “We’re delighted to announce a £1m partnership with VisitScotland which will see advertising in place across all five of Heathrow’s terminals ahead of the busy Christmas travel period.
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“International visitors already spend approximately £1.5 billion annually in Scotland and we’re confident the campaign will inspire more passengers to explore the natural beauty of Scotland during their visits to Britain.”
A Heathrow spokesman added: “We think there are significant opportunities to increase this figure, particularly in the fast-growing markets in Asia where ‘brand Scotland’ already has a strong presence.
“China became the world’s biggest outbound travel market by value in 2012, yet it is only Scotland’s 14th largest market, with 28,000 visits and spending totalling £16m.”
He said Chinese visitors spent an average of £1,676 per visit – nearly three times the global average. A Scottish marketing expert said the campaign could help explode some myths about Scotland’s perceived remoteness.
Charlie Robertson, brand consultant at agency Red Spider, said: “This is good news for Scotland by being added to a wider range of promoters of tourism here.
“I have been surprised by how many folk I have met on my travels who visit London but feel Scotland sounds a ‘nice to have’ [destination] but feel it is too far away.
“They are surprised as to how easy it is to come here and to hear of what delights there are beyond the obvious whisky, golf, mountains, lochs and glens.
“The social scene should be focused on – holidaymakers want a good time away from home. The escapists already know the score.”
VisitScotland chairman Mike Cantlay said: “While Scotland now benefits from many direct flights, airports such as Heathrow serve as important hubs for hundreds of thousands of our overseas visitors.
“This advertising will lend valuable additional support to our own international campaign, targeting high-spending travellers from across the globe.”
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