SCOTLAND’S flagship Hogmanay celebrations are set to enjoy their biggest ever exposure in China under plans to fly in six of the country’s top travel bloggers - with a combined reach of more than 10 million people.
A new charm offensive will see them experience all of Edinburgh’s main New Year events and get VIP treatment at a host of the city’s leading visitor attractions and tourism sites.
The initiative, part of a £50,000 campaign to bring international bloggers to Scotland for Hogmanay, is expected to see extensive coverage of the city’s three-day festival on China’s main social media channels.
Content created by the bloggers will be used on official Scottish Government promotional channels in China, six months after a trade mission led by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
A Chinese strand has been added to the Blogmanay social media campaign, now in its fourth year, which reached almost 10 million people on Twitter last year. Some 17,400 tweets were generated, along with 3000 images on Instagram.
The Chinese bloggers are being brought over on the back of a new campaign aimed at capitalising on the growing number of Chinese people going on holiday. Latest figures show there were 23,000 visits by Chinese nationals to Edinburgh in 2013 - compared to only 5000 in 2010.
The “China Ready” initiative aims to ensure the city is the UK’s top destination for Chinese visitors outside London and bolster the case for a direct air link. Businesses and attractions are being urged to train staff on Chinese culture and the expectations of the new breed of travellers, as well as ensure there are no language barriers.
Unique Events, the producers of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations, who also coordinate the Blogmanay initiative, have revealed they have already sold 2000 tickets to Chinese visitors for the forthcoming festivities.
The Edinburgh Tourism Action Group, which has developed the China Ready initiative, is among the backers of Blogmanay, along with the Scottish Government and VisitScotland.
As well as taking part in the torchlight procession and experiencing the world-famous Hogmanay street party, the bloggers will be offered the chance to take part in the infamous “Loony Dook”, which sees revellers take the plunge in the Firth of Forth on New Year’s Day.
They are also expected to visit Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Yacht Britannia, the national museums and galleries, and Edinburgh Woollen Mill, where they will get the chance to try out wearing a kilt.
Al Thomson, communications manager at Unique Events, said: “We know that Blogmanay works and has been really successful over the last few years.
“This is the first time we’ll have had anyone blogging directly through the main Chinese social media channels like Weibo and WeChat.
“The Scottish Government already have social media channels in China which we will also help generate content for from the Blogmanay campaign for the first time.
“What’s become apparent through this project is how much is being done in the city already and how many tourism businesses and attractions are working for that market. This is a big opportunity to have a real level of influence on these people when they are here.
“Although they might not necessarily be on these Chinese social media platforms themselves, if they know these people are talking about them as part of their trip to Edinburgh there that is a huge potential market.”
Rob Lang, head of marketing at Edinburgh Airport and chair of the China Ready project, said: “Edinburgh is the most-visited UK destination for Chinese visitors after London and a number of tourism businesses are joining forces to attract this growing visitor market.
“Welcoming influential Chinese bloggers for Blogmanay is the perfect partnership - blogs and travel sites are hugely influential for Chinese bookers, so it’s fantastic that they will get to share their experiences of Edinburgh during one of the city’s major festivals.”
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “Blogmanay is a great platform for showcasing what Scotland has to offer, especially at Hogmanay when hundreds of thousands of visitors come to enjoy the celebrations happening across the country.
“Our contribution to the project includes sponsoring six influential Chinese bloggers chosen to share their experience of Scotland with their followers, and showcase the best of what our country has to offer.
“We’re sure they will enjoy a fabulous Hogmanay and hope it helps inspire their many followers to look at what Scotland has to offer them.”