Tourism businesses in East Lothian have benefited from an expert help programme designed to help them sell their experiences to UK and overseas visitors.

The Travel Trade Expert Help Programme was designed by the council’s Economic Development team and launched for the first time in East Lothian at the beginning of this year. Ten local businesses have received one to one support from industry experts:

  • Scottish Seabird Centre
  • Ocean Vertical
  • Belhaven Brewery
  • NB Gin
  • Buck and Birch
  • Carberry Tower
  • EZ Riders
  • Drift Café
  • Carfrae Farm
  • Whitekirk Hill

Under the banner of Visit East Lothian, the Destination Management & Marketing Organisation for the area, the Economic Development team has worked with the travel trade for a number of years, attending trade shows; developing trade ready assets including creating itineraries and product; hosting familiarisation visits for tour operators, travel agents and other key sectors of the travel trade industry and promoting East Lothian as a film, TV and photography location. 

The travel trade represents a wide range of travel intermediaries who sell a business (activity, attraction, accommodation) to visitors, for example tour operators, travel agents, destination management companies (DMCs) and wholesalers.

The East Lothian businesses who successfully applied to take part in the programme received support from Liz Young and Karen Jacques, travel trade tourism specialists, to help them deal with key overseas markets to East Lothian including the American, Dutch and German tourism markets.

Businesses were also given the opportunity to present to VisitScotland’s travel trade and marketing teams and Scottish based DMCs to highlight their travel trade-ready products and experiences.

Feedback received from businesses who participated was overwhelmingly positive, praising the support received and enabling them to take forward their trade product.

Fiona Matheson, Brand Manager, Belhaven Brewery, said: “Taking part in the Travel Trade Expert Help programme has been extremely beneficial for Belhaven Brewery. We opened our Visitor Experience at our brewery in Dunbar in November 2021 and we had never before worked with the travel trade. Liz and Karen helped us to create our business ‘one-pager’ and also put us in touch with several travel trade companies, where we were given the opportunity to present our business, alongside other East Lothian businesses. We have already secured some travel trade listings for 2024 as a result!”

Liz Young and Karen Jacques said: “Working with the travel trade is key to broaden routes to market and grow business as we see more and more visitors worldwide use the service of travel operators in holiday planning. It is therefore fantastic to see East Lothian Council support businesses to become travel trade ready through their travel trade expert programme. 

“We were delighted to be involved in the training programme, work with the local businesses and see some amazing products develop, giving East Lothian a real competitive edge for promotion to the travel trade going forward.”

Claire Dutton, Visit East Lothian, said: “We are delighted with the success of this pilot Travel Trade Expert Help Programme which has come on the back on many years of working with the sector and businesses in East Lothian who can benefit from this important visitor market. East Lothian Council is keen to be able to offer the programme to a second cohort and we are currently looking into options and evaluating demand.”

Any East Lothian tourism business interested in working with the travel trade should contact the Visit East Lothian team in the first instance.

Published: Monday, 24th July 2023