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Funding boost for Mearns language tour company in bid to promote region

Clare Plaister (second left) with French teachers at Dunnottar Castle, near Stonehaven.
Clare Plaister (second left) with French teachers at Dunnottar Castle, near Stonehaven.

A Mearns-based travel business has been awarded more than £15,000 in a bid to make the region a more attractive destination for overseas students.

Language Travel Tours is to launch three programmes designed to encourage international students to visit Scotland as an eco-destination.

The company, based in Laurencekirk, was founded by Clare Plaister in 2015 with the vision to give English language students access to the real Scotland.

During its seven years in business, Language Travel Tours has welcomed more than 10,000 school-age and adult students from across the EU, China, Japan and Russia.

Chance to host overseas students

With the traditional “school exchange” increasingly on the wane in Scotland, the service offered by Language Travel Tours addresses the gap by giving local secondary schools and host families the opportunity to welcome students from overseas.

Students that took part in one of Language Travel Tours cultural exchange programmes.
Students enjoying a visit to the north-east.

The firm recruits paid host families from across Angus, Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire.

With international travel set to increase this year and into next the company is keen to hear from those who may be interested.

The visitors benefit from a unique blend of professional English tuition from qualified teachers, as well as the experience of Scottish life with their host family and the cultural pursuits on offer in the north-east.

The new programmes, dubbed Active in Scotland, Eco-Scotland and Only in Scotland, will launch on May 1 thanks to £15,300 of funding from VisitScotland.

Benefits to local economy

Ms Plaister said: “Whether it’s a group of school pupils from France or a professional individual from Japan, our visitors find the combined experience of language tuition and exposure to our culture a highly effective means of broadening their horizons.

“From our perspective, our programmes also offer significant benefits to the local economy, providing employment for English language teachers and custom for local tourist attractions and venues.

“Right now, we’re committed to putting Scotland on the map as a sustainable destination, and VisitScotland’s award is the springboard to move our business forward in this respect.”

Welcome boost to tourism

VisitScotland director of marketing and digital Vicki Miller said: “After two years of travel restrictions, Scotland is open and ready to welcome international visitors.

“Before the Covid-19 pandemic, our international visitor numbers were growing year-on-year with 3.4 million visits in 2019, worth £2.5 billion to the wider economy.

“The return of these visitors will be a welcome boost to tourism businesses as they continue to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

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