An award-winning Scottish art trail has been developed with the launch of a free smartphone audio tour.
The unique BLiSS trail links the Stirlingshire villages of Balquhidder, Lochearnhead, Strathyre and St Fillans through a series of art and architecture installations.
Developed by the Loch Earn Tourism Information (LETi) Group, the trail received the Innovation in Tourism award at the 2018 Scottish Thistle Awards National Final in March.
LETi has worked in collaboration to develop the new audio trail with Geotourist, which sponsored the category.
National tourism body, VisitScotland, hopes it will encourage even more visitors to explore and spend time in the region by following the innovative trail in the heart of Rob Roy Country.
The GPS audio BLiSS Trail Tour featured on the Geotourist app takes in a variety of artist and architect designed installations including ornamental features such as an Airliephant, a miniature mill house, stag, totem pole and old red phone box.
Geotourist has worked in partnership with the five national finalists in its sponsored category from the 2017/18 awards, with tours and trails currently in production in every region in Scotland.
Kim Proven, chair of Loch Earn Tourist Information Group said: ‘Loch Earn Tourism Information (LETi) businesses and communities are incredibly proud of their regional and national Scottish Thistle Awards for BLiSS trail innovation and working together.
‘Our latest collaboration with Geotourist has been fun in the making and it enhances the BLiSS trail story further.
‘The new audio tour helps LETi to improve its BLiSS trail attraction, plot the trail’s naturally beautiful location on the world map and talk to global audiences via mobile app and GPS technology. ‘Geotourist – an innovative audio guide enabler – has given us the opportunity to collaborate with sculptors, students, business members and other partners who have recorded unique stories surrounding the art installations.
‘Listen to a range of speakers including pupils and students aged 7 to 26 who volunteered to contribute in celebration of this tourism Year of Young People 2018. We look forward to welcoming more visitors to see our award winning innovative art trail and now to hear a variety of fascinating BLiSS trail stories too.’
Shaon Talukder, CEO at Geotourist said: ‘The celebrated BLiSS trail tour is an important addition to the Geotourist map. The Geotourist BLiSS trail tour underpins the opportunities that exist when communities with a common goal come together – and as this is how the BLiSS trail came into being, we’re delighted to see the trail tour extend across the Loch Earn region and Rob Roy Country, taking in the communities of Balquidder, Lochearnhead, St Fillans and Strathyre.
‘Driven by the inimitable Kim Proven, Kim intuitively understands how individuals and small businesses can work together to create something where there was nothing. A true gift from the community that brings smiles to locals and visitors alike. In this case, the BLiSS trail physically draws visitors through the region ensuring that they can access all the sculpture and public art as a whole piece, while the Geotourist trail tour means that people can digitally immerse themselves in the tour, whether they are right in front of any of the pieces or on the other side of the world and listen to the stories in many cases shared by the artists themselves or local community members involved in the project.’
Neil Christison, regional director at VisitScotland, said: ‘The BLiSS trail is a fantastic asset to tourism in the area and we hope this complimentary audio trail will inspire visitors to enjoy the fun and exciting installations along the trail as well as explore the surrounding area.
‘Scotland’s reputation as a quality destination relies on continued investment and innovation, which is celebrated by the Scottish Thistle Awards, and trails such as this will only strengthen our world-class visitor experience.’
The Scottish Thistle Awards reward hotels, restaurants, B&Bs, visitor attractions, business and consumer events, and individuals who go that extra mile to provide customers with exceptional service. Last year’s competition saw a record-breaking 750 entries to the competition.
The Scottish Thistle Awards is led by a panel of industry experts from several organisations including VisitScotland, Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards, Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards, the Hospitality Industry Trust Scotland, Scotland Food and Drink, Scottish Tourism Alliance, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, sportscotland and Wild Scotland.
To view the trail, visit https://geotourist.com/tours/2040 or listen via the app.