The future’s bright, the future’s Scotland

Robot butlers, mega-cities, midge haggis and the return of mammoth airships are just some of the novelties to expect in the future of Scottish tourism.

This year marks VisitScotland’s 50th anniversary and in celebration, the national tourism organisation has taken a tongue-in-cheek look forward into 2069 and unveiled what visitors might be enjoying on their trips to Scotland.

In the next five decades the world could be feeling the heat with people looking to escape rising temperatures in a milder Scotland which has held onto its strong historical and cultural ties as Glasgow and Edinburgh have merged into a mega-city aka Glas-burgh or Edin-gow.

A new research paper, Tourism Futures 2069, authored by VisitScotland’s Insights department explains rural areas could be protected from over development but benefit from better transport and digital connectivity and a vibrant country environment evolves for artisans, creatives, farmers and distillers. Hotels might introduce robot butlers as an enhanced extra and in-room fitness bikes mean guests can exercise while boosting the building’s sustainable energy stores, possibly earning themselves restaurant vouchers as they build-up miles and watts.

A potential launch of Boeing’s Hypersonic airliners in the 2040s could lead to flights from New York to Scotland taking just two hours. But the ability to fly five times the speed of sound may not appeal to all and those looking for a slower pace could enjoy the revival of huge airships decked out with mod-cons by 2069 for a super-comfortable trip around the globe.

The dirigible balloons might have to compete for airspace with flying taxis and rockets taking visitors on low orbit earth experiences through the Northern Lights from space ports at Prestwick in Ayrshire, Leuchars in Fife and Lossiemouth in Moray.

When it comes to food and drink, the study, which was published as Scottish Tourism Month kicks off, shows that Scotland’s larder should still be providing the world with delectable fare but with the population potentially including processed insect protein in their diets, midge haggis could be a highly desirable delicacy to visitors.

VisitScotland’s latest campaign could be marking the 55th anniversary of Outlander – the hit TV show which aired for the first time in 2014. Villages like Culross in Fife might be populated with 7D holographic characters from the show and allow fans to immerse themselves in an episode from the TV classic.

The Development of Tourism Act came into force in 1969 and an official Scottish Tourist Board was established with government funding. Since them the tourism industry has gone from strength to strength and shows little sign of stopping with the next fifty years yielding a wealth of tourism possibilities.

Chris Greenwood, VisitScotland senior tourism insight manager and author of the paper, said: “Scottish tourism has been a huge success story both economically and socially over the last 50 years and the aim of this research paper is to look at a potential future of tourism by examining the megatrends which may have influenced society by 2069.

“Developing a strategic foresight can help organisations embrace opportunities, challenge barriers and make sure we look to the future – which we can’t predict for certain but we can test our assumptions now to make better decisions for tomorrow.”

Lord Thurso, VisitScotland chair, said: “Tourism is one of Scotland’s most important industries. It has been creating jobs and sustaining communities for decades, contributing billions to the Scottish economy.

“We want to celebrate 50 years of golden moments with the tourism industry in 2019 and what better time to begin than Scottish Tourism Month. The scale of the achievements and growth of Scotland’s tourism sector is down to the hard work and creative collaboration across a myriad of organisations, businesses and public agencies spanning half a century – so for that we say thank you.

“This 50th anniversary not only allows us all to reflect fondly on the past but also, importantly, to concentrate our gaze on the future.”

The paper is available to read online here.

Photo credit: VisitScotland/Gareth Easton

Photo credit: VisitScotland/Gareth Easton

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