IT is a world away from the traditional image of a tourist information centre bedecked in tartan or high street travel agency piled high with brochures.
VisitScotland has revealed plans to deploy images drawn from Instagram accounts to target potential travellers – at a pop-up shop in the heart of London.
Days after announcing the close of nearly two-thirds of its traditional information centres across Scotland, it will launch the world’s first Instagram travel agency featuring hundreds of striking images of the country beamed onto a floor-to-ceiling digital wall. Visitors to the contemporary art gallery hosting the four-day venture, starting Wednesday, will be able to create an itinerary for a holiday based entirely on the Instagram images they select.
They will also be able to seek inspiration by using the latest headset technology to take a virtual tour of Scotland.
VisitScotland is trying to tap into a growing trend for people to book holidays on the back of seeing a single photograph on Instagram.
The tourism body boasts more than 370,000 followers on its own account and its pop-up agency is opening in the wake of a study earlier this year which found that 40 per cent of UK millennials choose their holiday destination based on its “Instagrammability”. VisitScotland launched a new campaign to tap into the lucrative 16-34 year-old market last month, citing figures which show it is already worth £1.1 billion to the tourism industry. It has joined forces on its latest venture with Instagrammers who have used its hashtags #ScotSpirit #LoveScotland and #VisitScotland to allow it to share their pictures.
Charlie Smith, director of marketing at VisitScotland, which is running the “Instashop” at the Woolff Gallery in London’s Fitzrovia district, said: “As a destination we’re keen to develop and deliver our powerful national story, giving a respectful nod to the past, but portraying a modern, welcoming and dynamic Scotland.
“We’re proud of the fact that VisitScotland has the biggest tourism Instagram account in Europe. People love our feed not only for the stunning photographs but also because they discover the immense and unexpected variety of things they can see and do.
“Our biggest number of Instagram followers come from London, so by extending that traditional Scottish hospitality and opening the world’s first Instagram travel agency in London, we hope to inspire them to come to Scotland to experience it for themselves.”
Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said: “It is important that Scotland is seen to be a progressive destination which embraces the needs and expectations of today’s tourist.
“Key to this will be having a digital infrastructure that supports the sharing and engagement of those visual and virtual experiences and as a tourism industry.
“The significant shortfall in the level of coverage and the speed of broadband is one of the most important challenges facing the sector.
“The investment in stable and fast connectivity which gives our businesses and visitors access to mobile signal in all areas of Scotland is vital if we are to realise our economic potential and maintain our global competitive edge.”