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Megatrends impacting Scottish tourism to 2025: opportunities for Scotland


This report analyses the future of the Scottish tourism industry from a global perspective, in order to provide a robust evidence base to support strategic decision-making by Scottish Enterprise (SE), partners and industry in the medium- to long-term. It looks at current tourism infrastructure, the industry’s potential and the challenges it faces. It identifies the most pertinent ‘megatrends’ (long-term changes in behaviours or attitudes with global impacts across multiple industries).


The research involved an extensive review with the heads of research for the syndicated Passport Travel global database, as well as consultations with in-house experts in Insights and Innovation. This aided the creation of an initial list of megatrends in tourism to 2025. A roundtable discussion with senior Scottish tourism leaders was then held to pinpoint the most pertinent megatrends from this list. A presentation was given to the Tourism Leadership Group responsible for shaping and reviewing Scotland’s national tourism strategy, and additional written feedback was received from key partners. Finally, 22 in-depth interviews were conducted with regional destination management organisations, tourist industry associations, higher educational institutions, airports, data technology companies and other supporting industries in Scotland. Interviews were also conducted with competing international destinations such as Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Iceland and Denmark.


The research identified four key megatrends – all of which shared the priorities of sustainability, technology and connectivity. These megatrends were named as: ‘Experience More’; ‘Technology to Stimulate’; ‘Limitless Discoveries’; and ‘The Evolving Traveller’. The ‘Experience More’ trend focuses on responding to tourist demands for genuine experiences that ‘get below the surface’ of a place. The report suggests that by building upon existing strengths in food and drink, heritage, landscape, cultural festivals and people, for example, by nurturing artisan food producers and raising standards, tourists’ experiences can be made richer, more personalised and more resonant. The Limitless Discoveries megatrend is underpinned by the principle of making the sum part of a country destination far more compelling than only one or two cities or famous landmarks. The aim is to encourage visitors to learn more, to do more, to travel further afield and to stay for longer. This relies heavily upon having suitable transport and digital infrastructure in place. The Evolving Traveller seeks to respond to demographic and social shifts – including a large ageing, high spending demographic, especially from Europe and the United States, more disabled visitors, and increasingly more visitors originating from China, India and South East Asia. Ensuring the accessibility of destinations for older travellers and those who face mobility or other physical challenges is an important consideration for this trend. Finally, the Technology to Stimulate megatrend focuses on creating a deeper and richer tourist experience within a location through technology. It notes that tech investments were found to improve productivity, leading to stronger visitor experiences and better visitor management.


Various recommendations were made in regard to each of the four megatrends. These include: promoting neighbourhoods in cities so visitors can live like locals, drawing on examples such as Berlin, Barcelona, and Amsterdam; developing and marketing adventure activities as joined up experiences around learning new skills, history, stories, culture and music; involving local residents as creators, maintainers and, major influencers of visitor experiences utilising social media, apps and other technologies; using key-driver data analytics to obtain richer insights into the visitor experience; supporting travellers to make a smooth transition from city to city and city to countryside and coast with smart itineraries and joined up experiences, instant booking facilities across multiple kinds of transport and reliable, eco-transport connections; further expanding on scenic routes around cultural, historical, seasonal and wilderness themes; establishing a series of robust and transparent indicators to define when a major destination becomes ‘out of balance’, including the straining of everyday resources like public transport and road, parking, and waste bins; ensuring the accessibility of destinations for older travellers and those who face mobility or other physical challenges; facilitating open data sharing and developing sophisticated visitor analytics to help predict future tourist volumes; creating more positions for digital analytics and data scientists/engineers within national tourist organisations; and establishing bespoke dashboards, planning tools and booking platforms focused on supporting small tourist businesses.

Author Euromonitor Consulting
Published Year 2018
Report Type Research
  • Business infrastructure
    Supporting key sectors
  • Sectors
    Food and drink, Tourism