Hogwarts’ charm to spellbind Indians

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the first Harry Potter novel, Scotland has introduced new itineraries mapping the locations mentioned in the legendary collection of novels. Potter-related tourist magnets include Scotland’s Glenfinnan Viaduct, where the Hogwarts Express travelled.

I ndian visitors and locals alike can experience all things connected to Harry Potter with the new itinerary of locations created by VisitScotland. These include the Jacobite Steam Train in the Scottish Highlands, Harry Potter Walking Tours in Edinburgh, Bo’ness Motor Museum, home to the official car of Ron Weasley in Falkirk, Dalhousie Owl Experience in Dalhousie and the JK Rowling Suite at The Balmoral, Edinburgh.

According to International Passenger Survey conducted by VisitBritain, Scotland recorded a 16 per cent increase in Indian visitors in 2017 over the previous year. In 2017, the destination is expecting a similar, double digit growth from India. The Indian market is a strategic priority for Scotland with large growth opportunity expected, particularly within the luxury and value seeking family markets. Scotland lends itself to the interests of the Indian travellers with a focus on history and heritage as well as whisky, filming locations and of course natural landscape, informs Kirsten Spence, Market Manager-India, Middle East and Australasia, VisitScotland. She elaborates that Scotland is able to accommodate the Indian MICE market with a variety of venues across the major cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness.

Glasgow in particular has a reputation for Indian cuisine and catering for the Indian market. In terms of incentives, the destination has some of the best activities for adventure and relaxation from golf and whisky tasting to taking part in Highland Games. Spence says, “Scotland is also becoming a more popular choice for smaller Indian weddings given the plethora of exclusive-use castles and estates. The Indian market has evolved over the years with increasing requests coming for more off the beaten track itineraries. The Highlands and Islands feature highly, along with the Moray Speyside Malt Whisky Trail, the Aberdeenshire Castle trails and the Bollywood Trail, which was compiled to showcase the 23 (and counting) Bollywood films that have been produced in Scotland.”

Identifying some trends, Spence explains that they have seen Indian travellers visit Scotland in off seasonoutside of July-September, looking to experience something beyond the main cities. The average length of stay is 13 nights, a reflection of the VFR travellers while for FIT or groups, it is common to include the destination in a UK -wide itinerary with 3-4 days in Scotland. The average spend across the market is approximately £415 per visit, which is expected to increase given the growth of the luxury market and the addition and refurbishment of key luxury accommodations. “Edinburgh now has connectivity from Middle Eastern hubs, Istanbul with Turkish Airlines; Glasgow has a long standing route with Emirates, with two flights a day from Dubai.

In October 2017, travel to Scotland will become even easier by flying with KLM to Mumbai via Amsterdam with 2-3 daily connections either to Glasgow or Edinburgh,” adds Spence. In terms of marketing and promotional strategies, Scotland is currently investigating opportunities to invest in specific Indian market social media activity


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