A brief history of VisitScotland since its establishment in
Ownership of VisitScotland.com transferred solely to
VisitScotland achieved Hospitality Assured Accreditation for the
first time. In doing so it became the first UK national tourism
organisation to achieve accreditation.
1 April 2008
As set out in the Scottish Government's September 2007 ministerial
announcement, VisitScotland reorganised its local activities around
six regions (aligned to Highland and Islands Enterprise and
Scottish Enterprise regions) and three island areas.
1 April 2005
The new VisitScotland network came into being. It consists of one
single national tourism network with 14 area offices, each
- a single point of contact for tourism businesses.
- acting as one team for tourism, the network is responsible for
the delivery and implementation of a national strategy complemented
by local tourism action plans.
To create this new integrated network with minimal disruption to
the tourism industry and ATB staff, transitional arrangements were
put in place to allow the new network to be established by April
The new network required changes to legislation:
- two Scottish Statutory Instruments were passed in 2004,
creating two Network Boards which are fully responsible and
accountable to VisitScotland.
- primary legislation, namely the Tourism (Scotland) Bill, was
laid before Parliament in March 2006
This change formally creates VisitScotland as a single entity
and and changes the legal name of Scottish Tourist Board to
A period of consultation was initiated on whether changes required
to be made to the Area Tourist Boards (ATBs). There were at that
time 14 ATBs which had been established in 1996 by the Local
Government (Scotland) Act 1994. They were each constituted as a
statutory body and provided the focus for tourism activity at the
local level. They were responsible for:
- providing customer information services (primarily though
Tourist Information Centres)
- marketing the local area
- enlisting the support of the local commercial tourism sector
and providing opportunities for local trade partners through
- developing and implementing Area Tourism Strategies.
They brought together the public and private sector at a local
level and provided a link between tourism interest at a national
After a period of consultation, Ministers concluded that, in
order to compete in an increasingly competitive market, Scotland
would be best served by replacing the 14 ATBs with an integrated
The Scottish Tourist Board began trading as VisitScotland.
A review of the Scottish Tourist Board led to a reorganisation
of tourism structures through a reallocation of responsibilities
among the various public bodies and public sector agencies involved
in Scottish tourism. This removed the responsibility from the
Scottish Tourist Board to provide financial assistance for tourism
projects and passed this to Scottish Enterprise and Highlands &
Islands Enterprise and the Local Enterprise Companies.
In an exchange of responsibilities, the Scottish Tourist Board
assumed the Enterprise Network’s responsibility for the marketing
and co-ordinating of Area Tourist Board activities and the
marketing of Scotland as a whole.
The Tourism (Overseas Promotion) (Scotland) Act 1984 provided the
authority for the Board to market Scotland overseas.
The Scottish Tourist Board was established under the Development of
Tourism Act 1969. The Board’s principal functions under the 1969
Act were to encourage British people to take holidays in Scotland,
to encourage the provision and improvement of tourist facilities
and amenities in Scotland, and to advise Government and public
bodies on matters relating to tourism in Scotland.