Hundreds of New Yorkers enjoyed a taste of Scotland in April courtesy of a special Tartan Day Takeaway event hosted by VisitScotland. As part of its ongoing work to bring back international visitors following the COVID-19 pandemic, the national tourism organisation treated locals to some tasty Scottish street food served by Scottish TV Chef and restaurateur Tony Singh. Hosted next to Madison Square Park in Manhattan, the pop-up food truck’s menu, inspired by Tony Singh’s Scottish Sikh heritage, featured Punjabi Salmon Tacos, Kheer with Islay Whisky Sweet Mango, washed down with Scotland’s ‘other national drink’ Irn Bru.
The Tartan Day festivities were led by Finlay Wilson, the Kilted Yogi who conducted some fun-filled kilted yoga with passers-by and fuelled by Scottish music. The event formed part of wider Tartan Week celebrations in Canada and the USA recognising the strong historical and cultural ties with Scotland. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the USA was the largest international market for visitors to Scotland with the highest number of visits (636,000) and expenditure (£717 million) in 2019. Meanwhile Canada was the top international market for visitors visiting multiple regions within Scotland between 2017 and 2019. This year marked the return of the first VisitScotland in-person events at Tartan Week since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, culminating in the annual Tartan Day parade in New York on Saturday 9 April which will be led by Scottish actress, Karen Gillan as Grand Marshall.
North America has enjoyed a flavour of the best Scotland
Vicki Miller, VisitScotland Director of Marketing & Digital, said: “After a two-year break, VisitScotland is thrilled to be back in North America and part of Tartan Week. North America is Scotland’s largest international market, and the return of these visitors is vital for the long-term recovery of our valuable tourism and events industry. Tartan Week, and creative events such as the Tartan Day Takeaway, are a key part of our work to keep Scotland top of mind and rebuild international demand. It complements our global marketing ‘Scotland is Calling’ campaign – which aims to make Scotland the destination of choice for all visitors in 2022 and beyond – as well as our work with inbound travel trade and airline partners to secure the return of direct routes. We know there is pent-up demand for travel and hope North America has enjoyed a flavour of the best Scotland has to offer this week. Scotland is open and our tourism and events industry looks forward to welcoming back visitors.”
Scotland’s rich history and diverse culture are a strong motivator for both USA and Canadian visitors. An increase in film and TV shows set in Scotland in recent years such as Outlander and the country’s reputation as the ‘Home of Golf’ have also helped attract visitors. Recent research by VisitBritain into consumer sentiment towards international travel during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, has found 80% of USA and 77% of Canadian respondents intend to travel abroad for leisure purposes within the next 12 months with consideration for Scotland increasing among all age groups. Rebuilding international visitor demand and re-engaging with the North American market will help support the recovery of Scotland’s valuable tourism industry from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Main photo: Clann An Drumma, Scottish chef Tony Singh and Finlay Wilson, the Kilted Yogi.