The Scottish Government has announced a £300k funding boost for tourism in Ayrshire, Firth of Clyde and Clyde Islands.
The investment comes as part of its commitment to promoting this region of Scotland as a visitor destination. Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism & External Affairs, made the announcement earlier today as part of an industry event hosted by Scottish Tourism Alliance at The Waterside Hotel in West Kilbride.
Around 100 local businesses and other stakeholders from across the region also gathered to hear about plans for an exciting new tourism initiative for Ayrshire, Firth of Clyde and Clyde Islands: ‘Five Routes – One Great Adventure’, as part of this latest Scottish Government funding commitment.
The Scottish Government announcement is the first phase of planned financial support to help boost tourism in this region. Future funding will be made available to help boost tourism and the rural economy, covering six local authority areas; North Ayrshire; East Ayrshire; South Ayrshire; Argyll & Bute; Renfrewshire and Inverclyde.
The regional tourism leadership group is made up of key tourism industry representatives from both the public and private sector and members of national tourism organisations. The group has now set now set out its plans for the region’s new tourism initiative and how to best maximise this new development to add value to local businesses, visitors and rural communities.
Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: ‘Today’s announcement is an exciting development for Ayrshire and the wider region. The opening of this stunning series of five ring routes will help showcase Ayrshire’s natural beauty and enhance the region’s tourism offer.
‘These routes, and the co-operative working between the industry and local authorities, are an important development and will help Ayrshire develop as a destination showcasing to our visitors all that the region has to offer.
‘I am pleased to announce £300,000 Scottish Government funding towards this project, in line with our Programme for Government commitment to promote Ayrshire as a tourism destination.’
The expert line-up at the stakeholder event also included Marc Crothall (CEO, Scottish Tourism Alliance); Professor John Lennon (director of the Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism Business Development, Glasgow Caledonian University); Councillor Alex Gallagher (North Ayrshire Council) and Linda Johnston (co-founder and managing director, Auchrannie Leisure Ltd, Hotel, Spa Resort & Country Club).
An open panel discussion also included David Mann (director of Scottish Maritime Museum and chair of West Kilbride Community Initiative); Alastair Dobson (managing director, Taste of Arran/Arran Dairies) and Tom Campbell (consultant).
Councillor Alex Gallagher, Cabinet Member for Economy, North Ayrshire Council, said: ‘This is fantastic news for North Ayrshire and our tourism industry. The announcement from the Scottish Government comes at an exciting time for tourism in North Ayrshire and across the wider region with the development of a new tourism initiative – Five Routes – One Great Adventure.
‘This exciting new initiative, together with our emerging Ayrshire Growth Deal proposals, offers real opportunity. Opportunity to attract new visitors. Opportunity to support our existing business base and opportunity to create jobs and attract investment.’
Marc Crothall, CEO, Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA), added: ‘Today’s announcement is a huge boost for all organisations connected with tourism in the region and shines the light on the huge potential to develop these wonderful local assets into experiences for visitors.
‘Collaboration between local authorities, tourism businesses, public agencies and private enterprises will be key to growing this area into one of Scotland’s top destinations. North Ayrshire Council sets a great example of this with its proactive approach to innovation and connecting with the tourism industry on a local and national level.
‘The STA team is looking forward to building new relationships in the area and engaging with our members locally to help grow tourism in the region.’
In support of the initiative, Gordon Smith, VisitScotland regional director, said: “With its ancient castles, stunning coastlines, famous golf courses and links to Burns, Ayrshire has always been a popular holiday destination, this exciting funding announcement and the creation of an ambitious new initiative, Five Routes- One Great Adventure, will ensure the region can continue to grow its offering, attracting more visitors in the future.
‘There is a huge opportunity for local tourism businesses to get involved and help encourage people from across the world to experience these new driving routes and the incredible food and drink, attractions and accommodations on offer throughout Ayrshire and the Clyde Coast.
‘We need to continue to create world class experiences, events and attractions to keep up with ever-changing visitor demands. Tourism is more than a holiday experience – it is the heartbeat of the Scottish economy and touches every community, generating income, jobs and social change.’
Stakeholders are now being offered the opportunity to take a role in shaping the future of the new tourism initiative, which is expected to be launched to the public in spring 2019.