By Vicki Miller

IT’S often hard to see ourselves as tourists in our own country. For most when we hear terms such as "tourist" or "visitor" we assume that this refers to people from outside Scotland, not us – the people who live here.

Yet the reality is, whether you are enjoying a staycation five hours away or going to a country park five minutes down the road, you are a visitor, contributing to the visitor economy and enjoying the visitor experience.

It is this notion that we are all visitors that is crucial if we are to tackle issues around what has been referred to as visitor management.

Last year, VisitScotland and partners came together to develop a Scotland-wide strategic and coordinated approach to this issue.

It followed growing concern around an apparent increase in irresponsible behaviour at several locations during the summer months. As more people holidayed at home, many were unaware of the consequences of their visits on our stunning landscapes and communities.

While many visitors do not intend any harm, it’s clear that some of these outdoor audiences are unaware of the Countryside Code or fully prepared for the types of experiences they wanted to enjoy.

To address the issue, a series of working groups have been formed to share insight and expertise. These groups have been instrumental in identifying issues and taking action. It has led to the creation of marketing and education campaigns; the implementation of new infrastructure and the introduction of services, such as an increase in rangers.

We have supported this work through our new Keep Scotland Unspoiled campaign. It offers great advice about how to enjoy Scotland safely and responsibly focusing on the issues like water safety, wildlife disturbance and wild camping. We also created a visitor promise to inspire people about how to #respectprotectenjoy Scotland.

For the first time this year, we used TikTok to reach younger audiences, securing a reach of 570,000 on that channel alone. Combine that with engagement of around two million on Facebook, an ongoing series of adverts on local radio and the work of all our partners and we will hopefully have reached a large percentage of the population with these important messages.

But this activity isn’t about telling people not to enjoy Scotland, it’s about showing them how to do it safely and responsibly. It’s about protecting our country for future generations and growing the visitor economy in a sustainable way to become a leading destination for responsible tourism.

We are arriving at the school summer holidays and for many the peak of the tourism season. As the weather improves more of us want to get outside and discover all that Scotland can offer. And if Scotland’s valuable tourism and events industry is to recover it is vital that people do that.

Tourism brings many benefits, but it must do this in a way that respects places and people. We all have a duty of care to protect the natural, social, and cultural assets which make Scotland so special.

Being a responsible tourist and respecting and protecting our environment and communities makes for a better experience for everyone. So, join us to #respectprotectenjoy Scotland and make your responsible tourism promise.

Vicki Miller is VisitScotland Director of Marketing and Digital. See