0800 612 9890

Stevenson College Edinburgh

Tuesday, 01 May 2012

Businesses in Edinburgh are to strengthen relationships with overseas visitors thanks to a cultural awareness training partnership developed by Stevenson College Edinburgh and Harvey Nichols.

The college has partnered with high-end retailer Harvey Nichols in a bid to make the increasing volume of visitors from BRIC countries such as Russia and China, as well as Arab guests feel more at home in Scotland's capital when traveling to the city on holiday or for business.

Staff from Harvey Nichols, as well as employees Edinburgh jeweller Hamilton & Inches will take part in the sessions which will concentrate on increasing inward travel from these emerging global economies.

Visits to the UK from the United Arab Emirates increased by 68 per cent in the five years to 2009 and are continuing to grow. Russian outbound travel is also one of the fastest growing markets in the world with Visit Britain predicting trips to the UK will rise by 24 per cent by 2014. Meanwhile China has become the fifth largest market in the world in terms of spend on international travel.

The course is a perfect fit for those in the retail, tourism and hospitality industry who will get the chance to learn basic phrases as well as gaining insight into humour and acceptable body language.

Sarah Donno, senior specialist English lecturer at Stevenson will be running the eight week programme.

She said: "With events such as the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup taking place in Scotland in 2014 we are going to see even more tourists flocking to the capital during their visit to Scotland. It's therefore vital that those working in customer facing businesses know appropriate customs and traditions from countries around the globe.

"Within Edinburgh we need to have consistency for tourists, and it's hoped our course will mean that from leaving the hotel in the morning to dining out in the evening, visitors will receive great customer service across the board.

 "The sessions will cover an introduction to cultural awareness; looking at visitors' experiences in Scotland as well as how to use gesture and body language in the right way. For example, in some Arab cultures it is not appropriate to look women in the eye, or give change back with your left hand."

The sessions will include visits from Chinese, Russian and Arabic specialists as well as videos featuring overseas visitors giving their views on service in the capital.

The bespoke course, which will be held at Harvey Nichols' training centre in Edinburgh, is the first of its kind to offer an introduction to the trio of countries which were chosen due to the increase in tourists from these nations.

Recent Visit Scotland figures show overseas visitors make around 1.34 million trips to the capital each year and spend £538 million.

Gordon Drummond, Director of Harvey Nichols said: "Edinburgh is world renowned as one of the most beautiful and historic cities on the planet. At Harvey Nichols we are very proud to trade from the Scottish capital and are keen to captivate our foreign visitors and give them the best experience possible.

"China, Russia and the Arab nations are all emerging tourist countries and we receive large numbers of visitors from these countries in the store.

"We pride ourselves in outstanding customer service and the training sessions, which many of our front of house staff will benefit from, is just one of the many ways in which we will continue to make our shopping experience first class."

The cultural awareness training sessions will begin on May 15th, with a second intake planned for later in 2012. The first intake is now full but to secure your place on the second intake please contact Andy Campbell at Stevenson College Edinburgh: andrewcampbell@stevenson.ac.uk





Issued by Beattie Communications on behalf of Stevenson College Edinburgh

Notes to editors:


  1. 1.      Visits to the UK from the United Arab Emirates increased by 68 per cent in the five years to 2009 and are continuing to grow - source Visit Britain. China has become the fifth largest market in the world in terms of spend on international travel - source Visit Scotland.
  2. 2.      Based in the west of Edinburgh, Stevenson College Edinburgh is one of the largest further education colleges in Scotland with around 16,000 students enrolling each year.
  3. 3.      Stevenson College Edinburgh offers a range of courses from introductory courses and NQs (National Qualifications) through to HNDs (Higher National Diplomas).
  4. 4.      A range of music courses are offered at Stevenson College Edinburgh including Degree Foundation Music, HND Music and a new BA in Music Performance was introduced in 2010 in conjunction with the University of Abertay Dundee.