China and tourism
More than 550 Chinese travel agents have enrolled to become VisitScotland 'ambassadors' in the four years since an online training initiative was launched to help further promote Scotland as a leading tourism destination.
With around 11,000 visitors to Scotland from China each year, First Minister Alex Salmond welcomed the success of the SCOTSagent programme as he presented 25 agents with tartan sashes to celebrate their 'graduation'.
The training course they have completed educates on various aspects of Scotland, including its geography, customs, culture and transport networks.
The presentation was made at a special Scotland Reception at the China World Hotel organised to celebrate Sino-Scottish cultural links.
There are more than 5,000 fully-qualified SCOTSagents worldwide, and 174 travel agents in China have successfully completed the SCOTSagent programme enabling them to use SCOTSagent branding on their websites and travel literature.
The FM said:
"I am delighted to be able to meet some of the VisitScotland 'ambassadors' in China. It is wonderful to see so many members of China's travel industry keen to learn about life in Scotland and understand the many and varied aspects of our nation.
"The uptake of the SCOTSagent programme also underlines the considerable appetite among Chinese travellers to see what Scotland has to offer. I offer my congratulations to today's recipients and to all those who have taken such an interest in our country and helped ensure that so many Chinese citizens can take the opportunity to visit Scotland."
Melanie Angus, Emerging Markets Manager at VisitScotland, added:
"In November 2007, Scotland became one of the first European destinations to launch a website in China and, since its launch, 550 SCOTSagents have enrolled throughout China and Hong Kong. We are delighted to see so many people take advantage of this programme and to see a number of them honoured by the First Minister today."
Jun Li, Director of China Holidays, was one of the qualified SCOTSagents receiving a sash, said:
"It is a great honour to receive this acknowledgement from Scotland's First Minister. The SCOTSagent programme is a very valuable online tool which teaches members of the Chinese travel industry, such as myself, everything we need to know about life in Scotland and Scottish culture in order to give our customers a real insight into all the things there are to see and do while enjoying a holiday in your country."