WITH its stunning coasts, rural retreats and accessibility it is not hard to see why domestic tourism in Scotland has been boosted while foreign travel restrictions have been in place during the pandemic.

Now a report into travellers' intentions and the kind of experience they are looking for puts Scotland in a strong position as the country reopens for hospitality and tourism.

According to the UK travel sentiment tracker's latest findings, Scotland is now in fourth place for spring trip intenders, with 10%, saying they would holiday north of the border and is in second equal place with the North West and Yorkshire & the Humber for summer intenders, also with 10%.

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England’s south west remains the lead destination for spring and summer trips with a 26% share for spring and 24% for summer.

The Visit Britain Covid-19 Consumer Sentiment Tracker is based on a UK nationally representative sample of 1,500 adults.

The survey looked addressed the likelihood of UK residents to travel; when and where they plan to go; specific trip details such as accommodation type and activities undertaken and the type of reassurances they're seeking from the sector.

The Skye road bridge with the Cuillin mountain range on the Isle of Skye in the background. Scotland will be among the top spring and summer breaks.

The Skye road bridge with the Cuillin mountain range on the Isle of Skye in the background. Scotland will be among the top spring and summer breaks.

There are also more signs of recovery as the trackers also found almost half of adults anticipate taking more or the same number of overnight domestic trips between now and the end of the year compared. This compares with just over a quarter of adults with similar intent regarding overseas trips.

The leading destination type for spring trips is traditional coastal/seaside town, 30%, just ahead of countryside or village, 27%, which is consistent with summer last year and the desire for green space, openness and fresh air is continuing to define holidays.

With uncertainty over the foreign travel opportunities, it has given people the opportunity to take advantage of what is on offer closer to home.

Coastal and rural retreats are among the places people want to visit

Coastal and rural retreats are among the places people want to visit

And according to a leading expert in tourism trends holidaymakers are somewhat more discerning and are open to the idea of ‘premiumisation’ or trading up their stay and experience which is also a chance for operators to capitalise on along with developing a more personalised offering.

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Chris Greenwood, VisitScotland’s Senior Tourism Insight Manager, said: “Personalisation and premiumisation are key drivers that consumers are looking for and businesses can differentiate product.

"Premiumisation is seen as investing in fewer things, seeking better products and experiences, which is the case for many households that have saved during the lockdown. For others that have unfortunately experienced furlough for example, it is the reining in on spending against things that don’t matter to free up the money for other things that do.

"There is an opportunity for operators to see gains in going for the personalisation trend offering products and services tailored specifically to customers’ needs giving them something unique and special.

"If you can offer a unique experience such as restaurant quality food options at self-catering or working with local providers while offering a luxe product that is a shift from high volume consumerism which is unsustainable to higher value purchases – the value coming from emotional fulfilment and cost proportionate to affordability.

"Travellers do want value for money, but that does not mean cheap. You could be in a five star establishment but the service wasn't great and that wouldn't be good value for money or you could upgrade your chosen accommodation to premium and it could well be worth spending that bit more.

"Interestingly Expedia have recently announced they are taking a visitor centric approach to product promotion looking at the total trip from transport, accommodation, activities which reflects the consumer desire of bespoke, personal and premium."

While coastal and rural locations are strong preferences for travellers, Mr Greenwood said Scotland is in a very unique position given the close proximity some urban areas have north of the border to rural and coastal retreats which other parts of the UK don’t.

He added: “I don’t think it is a case of urban areas or the country’s cities not being to be part of this.

"Scottish cities benefit from this trend due to their close proximity to accessible coastal and rural areas. Glasgow’s access to Loch Lomond National Park, Edinburgh Access to East Lothian, Fife and Borders.

"Perth, Stirling and Inverness all make them excellent hubs but with access to the rural/coastal idyl that visitors are seeking."

Travellers wanting to travel more sustainably, minimise impact on communities and the environment. Building back better will benefit the tourism industry, visitors and destinations. And it is important to gather opinions and consult to understand the needs of the differing groups that understands what they want from a visitor economy.

Connecting with travellers and using social media as a force for good for tourism businesses is also something operators can benefit from.

Mr Greenwood added: “You can’t get any better a recommendation for your business than the word of family and friends. People tend to take real stock in what kind of experience and viewpoint from what someone they know who has had.

“Operators can really seize the opportunity to encourage visitors to share information about them on social media pages with it be there own or sites where reviews can be left. It all helps to build a positive picture of an experience.”