VisitScotland has today announced a new marketing strategy focused on helping rebuild tourism as businesses prepare for a possible opening date on July 15.

The strategy, which will include broadcast and digital advertising will target the Scottish domestic market initially, before expanding to the rest of the UK and include activity with travel platforms such as TripAdvisor and Expedia.

The national tourism body said that with the sector worth more than £11.5 billion to the Scottish economy, supporting one in 12 jobs, it has been devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown and travel restrictions.

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The marketing activity will begin with a "restart" stage capitalising on the school holiday months for the family market, promoting the different types of holidays and breaks throughout the country and aiming to inspire Scots to travel at home with a "call to arms" to make a real difference to the tourism industry and enjoy what’s on their doorstep.

The main focus of the strategy, aimed at the domestic market will be a film which relays the message "you don’t have to travel far", reminding Scots that there’s a lot to discover close to home that will make a big difference to their health and wellbeing after a period of staying at home but also make a big difference to Scotland.

The film will feature some of the tourism industry from across the country representing the different sectors including attractions, activities, food and drink and accommodation.

The strategy introduces a phased approach to ensure communities, of which tourism businesses are a part, do not feel overwhelmed by a sudden influx on visitors, while getting the tourism industry up and running again.

Future phases of the domestic campaign will extend when the time is right to promote Scotland across the UK and Ireland and ensure Scotland remains top of mind over the autumn and winter period.

Extending the season will be a key part of the approach, it said.

Vicki Miller, VisitScotland’s director of marketing, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the tourism and events industry so it’s vitally important that we work together to help restart the sector.

"Our teams have been putting together a marketing strategy that will support regions and sectors, by working with our partners across the country to create a collaborative approach to welcome visitors again.

“We look forward to helping encourage Scots to rediscover their own country, supporting businesses as they prepare for the inevitable operational changes and ensure that communities feel comfortable and capable of welcoming visitors in a safe way.  

“It won’t be one size fits all however, we need to move at a pace that will be right for each part of Scotland, depending on the demographic of each region and how they’ve been affected by the pandemic.”

Tourism Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “I very much welcome this new campaign by VisitScotland to kick start the safe and strong return of Scotland’s tourism sector.  The campaign highlights the very many fantastic locations and attractions that lie close to home for so many of us. 

“By taking our first small steps back out on Scotland’s tourism trail, we can again begin to enjoy all of the benefits that our wonderful country has to offer - knowing that we will be helping not only our own wellbeing, but the wellbeing of our tourism sector.”

BAE Systems has warned that half-year profits are expected to be around 15% lower as the Covid-19 pandemic takes its toll on the business, but said trading will be "much stronger" over the final six months.

It said the coronavirus impact largely affected its second quarter to the end of June, with the UK-based air and maritime sectors and US commercial avionics business worst hit.

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The group now has "well over" 90% of staff in its defence businesses working again, with productivity improving this month.

BAE said that, despite the first-half impact of the crisis, order intake is in line with original expectations.

BAE said: "As we return towards full operational tempo, we expect the business performance in the second half to be much stronger than in the first half, assuming no new significant Covid-19-related disruptions."

Two of the biggest private companies involved in the NHS's special Nightingale Hospitals to treat Covid-19 patients have announced plans to combine forces.

Outsourcer Mitie said it would pay £271 million for a proposed acquisition of Interserve's facilities management arm.

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The deal would leave Interserve shareholders with a cheque for £120 million in cash, and a 23.4% stake in Mitie itself.

It would create what the companies say is the biggest facilities management expert in the UK, with more than 77,500 employees.

Mitie, meanwhile, will get a business with a strong presence in the government and defence sector, and said it will be able to save costs by combining the businesses.

Chief executive Phil Bentley said: "This will be a transformative acquisition, expanding the scale and footprint of our business to create the UK's largest facilities management company and accelerate the delivery of Mitie's long-term technology-led vision.

"The transaction will better balance our public and private sector divisions, driving greater returns from the investments we have made in technology and customer service over the past three years."

For Interserve, the deal gives it a chance to pay down its debts, give cash to its shareholders and stabilise its finances, its chairman, Alan Lovell, said.

Already a holder of government contracts, Mitie has won several more in the fight against coronavirus.

It has helped out in the Nightingale Hospitals and provided support to 11 drive-in coronavirus testing centres across the country.

The company has also picked up several deals to help supermarkets and online retailers through the tough period as they were forced to make sweeping changes to their supply chains.

Mitie revealed that revenue had grown by 4.2% in the year to the end of March, while pre-tax profit from continuing operations increased 73% to £48.4 million.

However, the start of this financial year has been tougher, with revenue dropping 12% and profit down by a fifth in the first two months.

Mr Bentley said: "We have 37,500 frontline workers keeping the UK safe and operational, whether in hospitals, supermarkets or sites of national security, or keeping offices, transport hubs or manufacturing plants open.

"Over the medium term, Covid-19 will present a different way of doing business and we are at the forefront of creating new solutions to enable our customers to operate safely and efficiently."