Tourism marketing body pledges to help industry find alternative option
VISITSCOTLAND has pledged to help hoteliers find alternative third party booking systems after confirming plans to scrap its own online reservations facility next month.
The tourism marketing body‘s chief executive, Malcolm Roughead, wrote to the owners of accommodation businesses listed on its booking system last week to confirm it will stop acting as a third party in taking bookings online from mid-December.
The move comes after the European Commission reviewed the State Aid rules, which cover the forms of assistance public or publicly-funded bodies provide on a discretionary basis. The EC has asked all tourist boards to address how they work with tourism businesses regarding online booking systems.
Despite the changes to its booking facility, Roughead reassured accommodation providers that visitscotland.com will remain a “showcase for Scotland” reaching “millions of potential customers”.
Accommodation businesses will continue to be listed on the VisitScotland site, he said.
Visitors seeking to book via visitscotland.com will be able to click on a new ‘book’ button that will redirect them to the accommodation provider’s own page, or to call or email the business directly.
From June 2013, visitors to the tourism body’s website will also be able to search for available accommodation across third party booking systems which have linked in with the VisitScotland site.
“Our priority is to do what we can to help the industry find the most suitable online booking option against individual
business needs by providing support and advice,” Roughead said.
Colin Paton, chair of the Edinburgh Hotels Association, welcomed the move. “Well done VisitScotland for recognising its weaknesses and its strengths, which are numerous,” he told SLTN.
Willie Macleod, of the British Hospitality Association in Scotland, said: “Ironically, I think this will meet the demands of those in the industry who didn’t want VisitScotland to take bookings.”