Scotland and the European continent edge closer with ferry tourism on the horizon

By sea, at least, Scotland and Europe appear to be edging ever closer together once more.

For centuries, the North Sea was a highway of trade and travel, but opportunities to criss-cross the water to and from the Continent have run dry in recent times, with the last ferry route from Rosyth and Zeebrugge pulling out in 2018.

Last week, DFDS Seaways announced it was interested in opening up the route once again, first for freight in 2023 and then for tourists.

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Plans to revive Rosyth-Zeebrugge ferry by early next year

Now, Visit Scotland has announced a new partnership with the ferry operator to market Scotland to tourists from Germany and the Netherlands who are heading to British shores on the Amsterdam to Newcastle sea route.

It is hoped to entice visitors north from their destination port with a collection of attractions – from Smailholm Tower near Kelso to Rosslyn Chapel, Edinburgh, Arbroath Harbour and Dunnottar Castle in the east to the Mull of Galloway, the Isle of Staffa and Culzean Castle in the west.

Celest Jansen, DFDS Seaways head of campaign marketing, said the ferry from Amsterdam offered travellers a “stress free” route to Scotland.

Dunnottar Castle near Stonehaven is one of the attractions being used to attract tourists from the Continent. PIC : VisitScotland/ Luigi di Pasquale

Ms Jansen said: “Our partnership with VisitScotland is a perfect match thanks to DFDS’s presence in the Netherlands and Germany, and VisitScotland’s expertise on beautiful holiday locations.

“The Amsterdam-Newcastle route provides continental travellers the ideal way to get to their Scottish travel destinations stress-free this season. Our passengers are set to benefit greatly from our partnership campaign, as welcoming them onboard means that they can start their holiday the moment they step aboard. They can count on a best-in-class service, with a variety of restaurants, entertainment options and even duty free shopping onboard.”

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German and Dutch tourists are among the most valuable to Scottish tourism, with work underway to draw visitors back from the lucrative markets as the holiday season rebuilds after Covid.

Germany is the second largest market for international visitors in Scotland, after the United States, when counted by number of visits made. The last full set of figures available before Covid struck shows tourists from Germany made 322,000 visits to Scotland in 2019 and spent £196 million.

Edinburgh Castle and skyline seen from Calton Hill. The charms of the capital are a key part of the marketing campaign designed to open up lucrative German and Dutch tourist market following the pandemic. PIC: Visit Scotland/Kenny Lam.

Meanwhile, visitors from the Netherlands account for the fourth biggest source market for Scottish tourism, with 182,000 trips made and £95m spent in 2019.

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Vicki Miller, VisitScotland director of marketing and digital, said: “This partnership campaign brings to life the dramatic and varied icons and landmarks across the south and east of Scotland. It comes at a crucial time for visitors from Europe who will be considering their holiday plans for the coming months.

“By continuing to strengthen our relationship with DFDS Seaways, we aim to raise awareness of what makes Scotland an accessible and fantastic holiday destination for our key markets in Germany and the Netherlands.

“VisitScotland is working hand in hand with partners and our tourism and events industry to rebuild this vital part of Scotland’s economy and provide the right support to lead the recovery.”

Tourists from Netherlands and Germany are being targeted in a new campaign between DFDS Seaways and Visit Scotland, which will promote the Amsterdam to Newcasle Ferry as a way to get to Scotland. PIC: Pixabay.
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DFDS has signed an agreement with Ptarmigan Shipping to investigate a new route between Rosyth and Zeebrugge in Belgium.

VisitScotland said Europe was “hugely important” for Scottish tourism.

A spokeswoman said: “We will continue to work with our partners to explore the opportunities that this potential new route could open up.”

Smailholm Tower in the Scottish Borders is another attraction being punted to our Continental visitors. PIC: Kenny Lam/VisitScotland