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Gamers seeking out locations

‘Consoliday’ tourists prove hit for Scottish venues

Grand Theft AutoA new tourism trend is about to give some famous locations a few extra visitors – the “consoliday” or console holiday.

Computer games players are flocking in their thousands to visit real life venues they recognise in virtual reality.

Tour operators such as STA are already offering special “gaming adventure tours” the national tourism organisation is hoping consolidays could be as popular as ‘set-jetting’, where people visit a destination after seeing it in a film.

Scotland features in a number of games such as Grand Theft Auto (Forth Bridges and other destinations, pictured)), Call of Duty: Ghosts (Stonehaven/Dunnottar Castle), Tomb Raider III (Loch Ness), Project Gotham Racing 2 (Edinburgh), the Tiger Woods PGA Tour series and more.

In addition to being inspired by the landscapes on screen, gaming fans also travel miles to Scotland to see where their favourite games were created in cities such as Dundee and Edinburgh.

Dundee is known as the birthplace of the Scottish games industry with some of the world’s biggest titles developed within the city including Lemmings and Grand Theft Auto. The city currently plays host to numerous design studios and Abertay University is famous for its world-leading video game development courses.

Edinburgh is the home of Rockstar North – developer of the successful Grand Theft Auto series – and many make the trip to the city to get their photo taken outside the company’s office which has recently moved to the former headquarters of The Scotsman newspaper in Holyrood Road.

Game development and design will play a significant role in Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016 with events over the year including Dare ProtoPlay – Scotland’s largest video games festival – celebrating innovation, creativity and talent in the industry.

Malcolm RougheadMalcolm Roughead (right), chief executive of VisitScotland said: “The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016 is an opportunity to shine a spotlight on Scotland’s fascinating creative achievements. Scotland’s video games industry is a thriving, internationally acclaimed sector which punches well above its weight and is a major contributor to our country’s economy.

“We are delighted that the new consoliday trend has potential, with gamers from home and abroad heading to Scotland to discover the landscapes they’ve seen virtually, and also experience where the inspiration for many world famous games began.”

Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design will begin on 1 January.

New data today shows the tourism industry ended 2015 on a high with an increase in visitor numbers to Scotland and a successful Year of Food & Drink.

VisitScotland reports:

• Overseas and domestic tourism visitors to Scotland have both increased by 7% in the last year
• As the Year of Food & Drink ends, visitors consider trying local food to be one of the top activities, 66% think that the quality of food is important when choosing Scotland as a destination and more than 1000 tourism businesses have received the Taste Our Best accreditation, which ensures visitors eat quality ingredients of Scottish provenance
• The industry is adapting to an increase in the number of visitors coming in the colder months – increasing from 4.7 million trips between October 2008 and March 2009 to 5.7 million in the same period in in 2014-15
• The marine tourism market is worth £360 million and – through the Marine Tourism Strategy – the industry is taking steps to grow this to £450m by 2020
• Further success in Scotland as a destination for business tourism, with the £2m Conference Bid Fund delivering a gross return of up to £200m
• Further work to promote accessible tourism for people with disabilities
• Significant investment by public, private and third sectors in tourist attractions, venues, hotels and accommodation
• The enormous contribution of the caravan and holiday park sector to the economy – worth more than £700m per annum
• Promotion of a planning framework to boost the importance of tourism to the economy and country
• Success in a further series of major events brought to Scotland bringing many more visitors to Scotland

Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing said: “The Scottish tourism industry has finished 2015 on a high. Bolstered by a hugely successful Year of Food and Drink, businesses have continued to build on past successes, increasing the number of visitors from Europe, America and from crucial domestic markets.

“The forthcoming Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design offers a further opportunity to showcase what Scotland has to offer.

“I am keen to ensure the benefits of tourism are spread throughout the country, and have undertaken numerous visits, from Nairn in the Highlands to Glentress in the Scottish Borders, to listen to tourism businesses and how their views can help shape policy. I am particularly interested in changes to better capitalise on out-of-season visitors and to further develop our marine assets.”

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