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AITC official news stories
 New Online Business Resource for Loch Lomond Tourism Businesses
Added: 25 Oct 2017
We’re delighted to share this news on behalf of Love Loch Lomond.

A brand new online business resource has launched for the tourism community in the Loch Lomond, Trossachs and Clyde Sea Lochs area.

The website, www.businesslochlomond.com, created as part of the Scottish Enterprise Tourism Destination Development Fund, is completely free to register and use; signposting businesses to news, events, training and funding opportunities, business case studies, industry toolkits and more.

Registered users can also post jobs, business news and events for free, and in the longer term will get access to bespoke training materials and tourism business intelligence – all with the aim of helping tourism and hospitality businesses develop and grow and engage with their visitors.

Karen Donnelly, Destination Manager of Destination Organisation Love Loch Lomond said: “Through our work with destination organisation Love Loch Lomond and having engaged with the local tourism and hospitality business community over time, we realised that there was a real need for a ‘one-stop shop’ where tourism businesses can go to access all kinds of resources, news and events which can help them capitalise on business opportunities, training, and get practical information to meet the daily challenges of running a tourism business in 21st Century Scotland”.

Karen continued: “We are delighted with the feedback received on the site so far, and we strongly encourage tourism and hospitality businesses to register for free, to join our business community and share their news, events and local job opportunities for our area – and take advantage of local business events and training opportunities.”

Visit www.businesslochlomond.com for more information and to register.
 
Argyll and Isles makes its ‘Mark’ on global stage  Argyll and Isles makes its ‘Mark’ on global stage
Added: 20 Oct 2017
A tourism marketing campaign designed to raise the profile and enhance the perception of Argyll and the Isles has captured global attention following its outstanding success.

The ‘Wild About Argyll’ campaign, which features Scottish endurance cyclist and record-breaker Mark Beaumont and is aimed at promoting the adventure tourism potential of the region, is a finalist in the Place Brand of the Year category at the City Nation Place Awards.

The global awards celebrate destinations that have shown exemplary work in attracting tourism, driving economic development and engaging citizens through great communications.

Argyll and the Isles will fight against other top destinations across the world including Toronto and Copenhagen to take the coveted prize sponsored by the New York Times at a global conference in London on 9 November 2017.

The ‘Wild About Argyll’ campaign, launched in 2016, was the brainchild of Argyll and the Isles Tourism Cooperative (AITC) after it was recognised that the region needed a new brand focus.

Focusing on the lucrative Adventure Seeker market, and accessing funding from multiple funders including VisitScotland and Argyll and Bute Council, AITC engaged cyclist and adventurer Mark Beaumont on an ambitious 12-day journey across the entire region, involving 12 different sports, 32 individual adventures and an epic challenge every single day.

The results were a series of promotional films that have been seen by over 1.6m people online, over 1.1m subway users in Glasgow, 200,000 cinemagoers across the central belt and 15,000 people per day departing Edinburgh Airport.

The online campaign has reached almost 2 million people and has driven more than half a million engagements (likes, comments, shares). The hashtag #wildaboutargyll had over 3.7 million impressions on Twitter alone within a week of the launch and the Explore Argyll website has seen a 79% increase in traffic from Millennials, the key target market for the campaign.

Although originally aimed at the adventure market, such is the success of ‘Wild About Argyll’; it is now being adopted as the place brand for the region, being used by partners across the board in different sectors.

AITC teamed up with Glasgow Life during the campaign to celebrate the unique relationship between the City and Scotland’s Adventure Coast, and have even more ambitious plans for 2018.

On a tourism level, the brand has allowed Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative to secure a 3-year funding package from Highlands and Islands Enterprise for 2017-2020 to develop the adventure product linked to food and drink and events and festivals.

AITC received £40,000 Growth Fund money from VisitScotland in 2017 to specifically develop the ‘Wild About Argyll’ brand. The funding boost was match-funded by Argyll and Bute Council.

The VisitScotland Growth Fund is open to groups of three or more businesses and can support well planned, inspiring and new marketing campaigns.

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland said: “As soon as we read the proposal for the ‘Wild About Argyll’ campaign, we were excited, but it was a whole new market and direction for the region and with that comes a good deal of risk. That calculated risk has paid off immensely and we are absolutely delighted that Argyll and the Isles Tourism Cooperative has been recognised for its work in completely revolutionising the place brand for the region.

“The Growth Fund is there to inspire marketers to innovate, think outside of the box and achieve something truly incredible and Argyll and the Isles have done just that. The whole of Scotland will be behind you on 9 November at the City Nation Place Awards – good luck!”

Mark Beaumont said: “Wild About Argyll was such an inspiring project to be at the heart of, I was blown away by the pride and enthusiasm from everyone in the region, it felt like this publicity campaign had been crying out to happen, lifting the stone on an untold treasure in Scotland. But this is easy to say in hindsight, it took real insight, a huge amount of hard work and logistics to pull off a campaign that looked brilliantly simple and immediately inspiring, and yet was hugely ambitious and collaborative behind the scenes.

“Argyll has been overlooked as a wilderness destination. It may have been known for its sailors and empty nesters, but Argyll and the West Coast Isles have amazing landscapes and sports – and people have been missing one of Scotland best adventure playgrounds. The Wild About Argyll campaign has worked brilliantly to transform people’s perception of the area.”

Calum Ross, Chair of the Argyll and the Isles Tourism Cooperative said: “I am absolutely delighted to see the Wild About Argyll place brand recognised internationally and sharing a stage with some high profile destinations. Wild About Argyll has captured the tremendous spirit of collaboration we have in Argyll. Over a hundred of our local businesses supported Wild About Argyll at the outset, and the amazing Scottish band Skerryvore who hail from Argyll collaborated with us on their Live Forever music video that was released at our launch event and immediately went to number one in the iTunes world charts. Being shortlisted has captured that spirit of Argyll.

"The timing for the launch of Wild About Argyll was fortuitous with Mark Beaumont, who captures the very soul of our region, about to embark on a round the world in 80 days attempt on his bike. His spirit of determination inspired us to aim high and we are overwhelmed that Argyll & the Isles has been recognised on a global stage in such a short period of time.

“In 2016 the UK Cabinet Office / Number 10 Downing Street took their ‘That’s Great Britain’ campaign to the finals of the Place Brand of the Year category, missing out to ‘Make Something Edmonton’ so we’re hoping to go one better and bring the winner’s trophy back to Argyll and the Isles.”

Winners will be selected by an international panel of judges and announced at the City Nation Place conference in London on Thursday 9 November 2017.

To find out more about Argyll and the Isles visit www.exploreargyll.co.uk or email info@exploreargyll.co.uk or to get more details on the Wild About Argyll campaign visit www.wildaboutargyll.co.uk Details about the City Nation Place Awards can be found at http://www.citynationplace.com/awards
 
 #hellodigital comes to Dunoon
Added: 25 Sep 2017
Digital technology is increasingly changing how we live, work and study – and a new initiative in Dunoon is set to help local people find out all about latest equipment and skills.

Highland and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is bringing #hellodigital to the town. It’s a six month ‘pop-up’ digital demonstration centre opening in October. You’ll find it docked at The Fairmile Building on the Sandbank Business Park.

The events are free to attend – some are open to all, some to an invited business only audience. The programme kicks off on Monday 2nd October with an exciting open launch event.

Experts from Google Digital Garage will talk to businesses, social enterprises and community groups about digital innovations coming over the hill and give a chance to get hands on with 360 cameras, virtual reality and augmented reality.

Liza Moran from the HIE Argyll Office said “We are delighted to be bringing #hellodigital to Dunoon. It was launched in Inverness last year and more than two thousand people from across the region have already gone along to sessions which show how new technology can help their project’s grow.

“There’s a real demand locally to be able to access sessions like this within Argyll. It’s especially relevant for people living outwith Scotland’s big cities, as we rely more and more on digital technologies but have fewer opportunities to keep up with developments.”

If you can’t make the launch there is a programme of interesting events extending into next March. The sessions will be held at the Dunoon Digital Dock in The Fairmile Building at the Sandbank Business Park.

The Digital Dock is a large suite which has been kitted out with a maritime theme, where HIE and Business Gateway will host digital workshops and seminars.

Experts will deliver each event, helping us to appreciate current trends, learn how on-line behaviour is set to change, and to keep pace with technologies that are quickly becoming widely adopted – such as Virtual Reality, 360O cameras, beacons and sensors.

What’s more, HIE is offering short term single desk hire packages within the Digital Dock. Individuals starting up businesses, or people looking to work remotely, have the chance to rent, short-term, a desk space within the IT focussed Digital Dock.

And for businesses looking for more room, there is still opportunity to rent bespoke office space within the purpose built Fairmile Building and to benefit from joining an existing group of like-minded tech businesses.

We are expecting local businesses and individuals to book up these free to attend opportunities quickly. So to find out more about what’s on offer at #hellodigital over the next few months and to secure your places, please visit http://bit.ly/hellodunoon
 
AITC welcomes Victoria to the BoardAITC welcomes Victoria to the Board
Added: 22 Sep 2017
Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) recently welcomed a new director onto the Board to represent Heart of Argyll Tourism Alliance, but also said goodbye to a longstanding member.

Victoria Winters will represent the Heart of Argyll Tourism Alliance, an area which stretches from Tarbert, Loch Fyne in the south to Loch Craignish in the north, and from Crinan in the west to Inveraray in the east. Add to this Kilmartin Glen which encompasses some of the country’s most important prehistoric sites, and you’ll find an area which is not only visually stunning, but which also invites you to delve deeper into Scotland’s history.

Victoria who is the co-founder of a management consultancy, moved to Mid Argyll with her husband Dr John Hall and cat Aslan in 2013. One of the deciding factors on moving here was the proximity to water, and Victoria can often be spotted kayaking between Minard and Lochgair, or on her little motor-sailer.

A keen gardener, Victoria is on the committee of The Friends of Crarae, one of Argyll’s best-known glorious gardens. She also owns and runs a self-catering holiday cottage from her home.

Chair of AITC Calum Ross warmly welcomed Victoria saying: “I’m delighted to welcome Victoria to the AITC Board at this exceptionally busy time for the organisation. Coming with both a business and tourism background, Victoria’s knowledge and experience will be a valuable addition to AITC. I’m also looking forward to hearing more about her Wild About Argyll adventures on the water!”

Victoria’s appointment was due to the resignation of longstanding director, Andrew Wilson. Andrew, who was one of the original AITC directors, leaves after 5 years on the Board.

Calum paid tribute to Andrew’s contribution to the organisation saying, “Andrew has been on the Board from early in the life of AITC and has been a great support over the years. He has represented us on the Argyll & The Isles Coast and Countryside Trust and progressed a number of local initiatives. I’d like to wish him the best of luck for the future.”

AITC is now gearing up for a very busy autumn and winter period as the team set to work focusing their attention on adventure tourism, events and festivals and food and drink tourism.

They will also be regionwide with their programme of mini autumn summits, and the team will all be together in Oban’s Argyllshire Gathering Halls on 7th November for tourism day, part of Argyll Tourism Week.

To find out more about the work of AITC visit www.exploreargyll.co.uk or email admin@exploreargyll.co.uk And to find out more about the Wild About Argyll campaign featuring world record breaking ultra athlete Mark Beaumont, visit www.wildaboutargyll.co.uk
 
Wild About Argyll is best in showWild About Argyll is best in show
Added: 22 Sep 2017
WILD About Argyll were the worthy recipients of the new Bidwells’ Best Stand Award at last weekend’s Best of the West Festival at Inveraray Castle.

Judged and presented by the Duchess of Argyll and Gordon Stewart, Head of Energy & Renewables with Bidwells, the award recognised not just the quality of display and product but the engagement of the staff.

“Wild About Argyll was chosen for the award because of the enthusiasm and engagement of the staff on the stand and the obvious connectivity of what they are trying to achieve with what Argyll Estates are striving to do i.e. attracting more people into this part of Argyll and showing the quality of the product that is available.” said Mr Stewart.

The Duchess of Argyll was equally impressed with the display:
“The Bidwells’ Best Stand Award was highly sought after with tough competition. However, the Wild About Argyll tent was a deserved winner and the team was thrilled be chosen.
“This year’s Best of the West was the seventh year of a weekend of celebrating the west of Scotland and we had a fantastic weekend of the best in food, drink and music with Skerryvore, Skipinnish and Eddi Reader headlining. Planning for 2018 is already underway!”

Wild About Argyll is an initiative promoted by the Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative Ltd (AITC) – a collaboration of businesses, established tourist organisations and local and Scottish Government. Its aim is to highlight all the fantastic opportunities in the region that are within such easy reach of central Scotland.

Calum Ross, Chair of AITC said: "We were delighted to be awarded the Bidwells’ Best Stand Award at BOWfest 2017. Our innovative Wild About Argyll campaign is seeking to position the region as Scotland’s Adventure Coast - and being able to reach out to the festival goers over the weekend was a golden opportunity for us. We had a really productive weekend and this award was both a surprise and a real boost for the team."
 
Bruce and Bonnie wow the crowds at BOWFest Bruce and Bonnie wow the crowds at BOWFest
Added: 09 Sep 2017
Festival goers of all ages were delighted to meet two of Argyll’s biggest personalities this weekend (9 and 10 September) when Bruce the Beaver and the Glasgow 2018 European Championship official mascot Bonnie the seal visited the Best of the West Festival at Inveraray Castle.

Bonnie, who swapped her Argyll home for the bright lights of Glasgow, came home for the day to catch up with long time pal Bruce and to inspire some of the younger BOWFest visitors to get behind the Glasgow 2018 European Championships which run between 2 – 12 August 2018.

Bruce, who had made the journey from the Heart of Argyll Wildlife Organisation at Barrandaimh, was only too happy to welcome his celebrity friend to the festival, and the pair posed for sealfies with the crowds who descended on Inveraray for three days of fabulous music, arts and great food. They even managed to meet the Duke and Duchess of Argyll!

When Bonnie’s visit was over, Bruce once again got busy, beavering away on the Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) stand, and helping people to plan their own adventures and get Wild About Argyll.

AITC Chair Calum Ross said, “We were thrilled to be able to welcome Bonnie back to Argyll and the Isles. We’re very proud that an Argyll sea pup has been chosen as the official mascot of the Glasgow 2018 European Championships and, if today’s response is anything to go by, Bonnie has a new legion of fans who can’t wait to follow her adventures.”

Colin Hartley, Glasgow 2018 European Championships Director, said: “Our official mascot Bonnie the seal received a very warm welcome while back home in Argyll and was delighted to meet local families and sports fans, as well as the Duke and Duchess of Argyll and Bruce the Beaver. The playful seal pup is travelling around Scotland between now and the first ever Glasgow 2018 European Championships to celebrate young people and sport, and spread the word about the 11 days of culture and exhilarating sporting action coming to Scotland next year.”

 
New AITC leadership announced at AGM New AITC leadership announced at AGM
Added: 08 Sep 2017
Inveraray Castle was the venue for Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative’s (AITC) annual general meeting today (Friday 8 September), which saw a change of leadership at the top of the organisation.

Inveraray Jail’s governor, Gavin Dick stood down as Chairman and Loch Melfort Hotel’s Calum Ross stepped up from his Vice Chair role to take the position as Chairman. Calum will be joined by Portavadie’s Iain Jurgensen, who fills the Vice Chair position.

AITC Chair Calum Ross thanked Gavin for his leadership over the last three years saying: “Both Gavin and I are founding directors of AITC and it is no exaggeration to say he has worked tirelessly for tourism in Argyll and the Isles and, whilst has stood down as Chair, I am delighted to say he remains on our Board. Gavin’s knowledge and dedication to the tourism industry have both played significant roles in making AITC the organisation it is today.

“I am delighted to welcome Iain, one of the first co-opted directors to sit on our Board, to the role of Vice Chair. Iain already chairs our World Host steering group and champions the skills agenda, and he will make an excellent Vice Chair.

“Of course I am thrilled to be the new Chair of this dynamic organisation and I’m looking forward to the challenge ahead during what is a very exciting time for tourism, both regionally and nationally.”

Speaking about his new role as Vice Chair, Iain Jurgensen said: “I am delighted to take up this role. I have been a member of the AITC board for several years now and it just gets better and better. The Wild About Argyll campaign has firmly cemented Argyll’s claim to be Scotland’s Adventure Coast and I’m proud to be part of the team delivering quality tourism campaigns on behalf of our members.”

AITC now looks ahead to a very busy few months, starting immediately as the team gears up to get Wild About Argyll during the three day Best of the West festival at Inverarary Castle which runs from 8 – 10 September.

Following the festival the team will be hitting the ground running. In mid August HIE confirmed their three year funding programme to AITC and work will now begin on delivering the key components of the project which focuses on adventure tourism, events and festivals as well as food and drink tourism.

Autumn will also see the team establishing new and exciting collaborations with neighbouring destination marketing organisations (DMOs). The high profile Wild About Argyll campaign continues apace and will act as the focus of AITC’s programme of mini autumn summits.

And, to top off an already busy season, the team is working to finalise plans for tourism day on 7th November during Argyll Tourism Week.

As of the 2017 AGM, the full AITC Board comprises:

Elected Directors Calum Ross – Oban Lorn and the Isles Tourism Alliance
Gavin Dick – Cowal Marketing Group
Victoria Winters – Heart of Argyll Tourism Alliance
Niall Macalister Hall – Explore Kintyre and Gigha
Fiona McPhail – Kyles Marketing Group
Aidan Canavan – Visit Bute
Neal Goldsmith - Marketing Mull and Iona

Co-opted Directors
Cathy Craig – Entrepreneurial Scotland
Iain Jurgensen – Portavadie, Loch Fyne
Andy Roger – Cameron House, Loch Lomond

Honorary Chairperson
The Duchess of Argyll

For information on the work of AITC visit www.exploreargyll.co.uk or to follow the Wild About Argyll campaign visit www.wildaboutargyll.co.uk - you can also contact AITC at info@exploreargyll.co.uk
 
Support for Argyll tourism projectSupport for Argyll tourism project
Added: 22 Aug 2017
An ambitious three-year project to grow the tourism sector in Argyll and the Islands by at least £16million over three years has secured support from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

The proposals by Argyll and the Islands Tourism Co-operative (AITC) will focus on adventure tourism, events and festivals, and food and drink tourism.

AITC brings together the area’s destination marketing organisations. It was formed in 2012 as a cooperative of members and now represents around 1200 tourism interests.

Earlier this year AITC secured a three year funding package from Argyll and Bute Council and annual funding from Calmac.

With this funding it will provide strategic leadership across the sector, support development of new products and services and increase sector capacity and capability.

HIE has approved funding of up to £240,000 over the three year period to support the plans. The money will cover development costs with targets and outputs defined by HIE. This funding follows a three year investment from Argyll and Bute Council and an annual funding allocation from Calmac which combines with member subs to cover for core funding and marketing.

In 2015 tourism in Argyll employed around 6,500 people. The sector plays a vital role in the economic sustainability and viability of many rural communities, and significant investments by entrepreneurs and companies have created employment.

In addition to working with AITC, the HIE team in Argyll and the Islands works with more than a dozen tourism clients, who deliver growth in the sector and make a significant contribution to the economy.

Jennifer Nicoll, HIE’s area manager for Argyll and the Islands, said: “This ambitious project outlines plans to grow the tourism sector across Argyll and Bute; something that will ultimately lead to new jobs, increased turnover and more international trade.

“These aspirations are aligned with our aims to support the sector’s continued growth, thereby supporting business and the rural economy and improving wider community resilience.

“I welcome the plans and look forward to supporting their implementation.”

Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) chair Gavin Dick said: “We are delighted that HIE has continued to support our work to develop Argyll and the Isles as one of Scotland’s top tourist destinations.”

He added “An independent assessment of tourism growth in the region and AITC’s performance from 2011-2016 concluded that the region has been comprehensively outperforming Scotland as a whole, and while this is by no means down to the activity of AITC alone, it clearly demonstrates that the combined efforts of everyone involved in the industry is having an impact. We are keen to see this growth continue and this investment from HIE combined with the Council’s three year funding package will be key to that happening.

“Recent research by VisitScotland shows the tourism industry in Argyll and Bute accounts for 17% of employment opportunities – almost double the national average, it is a vital part of our economy. This funding means we can continue to promote our message, both at home and further afield and to develop the product and experiences for visitors to Scotland’s Adventure Coast.

“We have been developing plans with HIE, and now this funding has been approved we can get on with ensuring we deliver the maximum possible return for visitors who come to the region and the businesses and destination marketing organisations we represent."

The funding award from HIE follows the assessment and review of the Argyll adventure tourism offer undertaken with long distance cyclist, Mark Beaumont, in 2016 as part of the Wild about Argyll Adventure and Film project.

A copy of the assessment and recommendations can be obtained from admin@exploreargyll.co.uk
 
 Share our secret
Added: 31 Jul 2017
Come to CowalFest Argyll 2017 for a ten-day adventure in walking and other pursuits from Friday 6 – Sunday 15 October 2017. This annual walking festival is one of the largest and most varied in Scotland, with many walks led by expert and knowledgeable leaders. All ages and abilities are catered for and the walks cover a range of interests including wildlife, bird watching, art, heritage, folklore, tai chi, interesting gardens, and some challenging hill walks.

CowalFest Argyll 2017 takes place throughout the Cowal Peninsula in that part of the west of Scotland that extends into the Firth of Clyde. The Arrochar Alps and Ardgoil peninsula in the north fringe the edges of the sea lochs whilst the Argyll Forest Park and part of The Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park spread out across the hills and mountains, making Cowal one of the remotest yet most accessible outdoor activity areas in Scotland.

Visitors can choose from a wide range of walks taking place in this beautiful but often forgotten part of Argyll. The area is a haven for those who love wildlife, photography and exploring Scottish heritage. Walks are graded from gentle strolls to strenuous hikes and are led by enthusiastic volunteers who want all to have happy memories of walking in Cowal. There are evening social events for fun and to compare notes.

Find out more at www.cowalfest.org Contact: Eleanor Stevenson: 01369 830793
 
 Inveraray Highland Games - Tuesday 18th July 2017
Added: 04 Jul 2017
The Games is thrilled that for the eighth year running they will be hosting the "WORLD CABER CHAMPIONSHIPS" sponsored by The George Hotel.

This is a highly prestigious event in the Games calendar and attracts the highest calibre of athletes from all over the world – from as far afield as Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Germany, etc. – not forgetting our own home grown talent!

The winner is presented with the Scottish Games Association medal. It is a true test of skill and physical prowess as the caber at the World Championships is one of the biggest, if not the biggest on the circuit, measuring over 20 feet and weighing in at over 140lbs.

With its beautiful location at the head of Loch Fyne, the Inveraray Highland Games is held in the grounds of Inveraray Castle, where they are opened by the Duke of Argyll, Chief of the Clan Campbell - Vibrant and friendly, these traditional highland games offer an exciting and memorable day out for all the family – wonderful games, great food and drink, souvenir shopping, side shows and a children’s activity tent [FREE].

Also in attendance will be contingents from all the Armed Forces. The Games celebrates our rich Highland culture and the one-day event showcases all the traditional Highland Games, harking back to the warrior clan days.

There is the usual mix of track and "heavy" events, for the sports-minded, and both Scottish Highland dancing and solo piping for those with a more artistic bent. Inveraray Highland Games are also delighted that Loch Fyne Oysters and Clan Campbell Scotch Whisky continue to support the Games as main sponsors.

The Inveraray & District Pipe Band, recently crowned Grade 1 British & European Champions for 2017, will parade through the town at 10.45am with the main events commencing shortly afterwards.
 
 AITC statement on 2017 Mull Rally
Added: 07 Jun 2017
Chair of Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) Gavin Dick expressed his sadness at the news from Mull Rally Club saying: “This is a huge loss to rally fans across the country who regard Beatson’s Building Supplies Mull Rally as one of the best. Last year 150 crews travelled to Mull to compete in some of the finest stages in this exciting three day event. It is, without question, a huge blow to Mull with the potential loss of £1M to its economy. However, we fully support the work of the Mull Rally team to stage an alternative motorsport event over the three days, and will help the committee to promote it in any way we can."
 
Tourism body welcomes new directorTourism body welcomes new director
Added: 30 May 2017
Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) today welcomed new director Andy Roger to its Board.

Andy who is the Resort Director of Cameron House Loch Lomond brings with him a wealth of experience in the hospitality industry. He also has first hand experience of the challenges and opportunities facing tourism across Scotland.

In addition to being in charge of the five star, 136 bedroom destination, which includes the Carrick Spa and 18 hole championship golf course, Andy has also recently been appointed as Chair of the Love Loch Lomond Board.

AITC Chair Gavin Dick welcomed Andy to the board saying: “I’m delighted Andy has agreed to join us as a co-opted director. Andy brings with him a great understanding of the national and international tourism market. We are looking forward to even greater collaborations in the region bringing further benefits for the businesses and visitors alike."

Andy said: “I have watched the development of AITC with real interest and seen the increase in brand awareness of Argyll and the Isles. I’m thrilled to be joining the board and look forward to contributing to tourism growth through product development, collaborations, leadership and skills.”

AITC is looking forward to a very busy summer. The online Wild About Argyll films from local groups as well as AITC are really grabbing the imagination and encouraging even more people to head west and experience what Scotland’s Adventure Coast has to offer.
 
CowalFest returns in OctoberCowalFest returns in October
Added: 29 May 2017
This year’s Walking and Outdoor Festival will be held from Friday 6th October to Sunday 15th October 2017 inclusive.

It will feature more than thirty walks graded from gentle strolls to challenging day trails. Walks are facilitated by knowledgeable volunteers and take place amid the stunning scenery of this often-overlooked area of Scotland.

If your interests extend to wildlife or photography, then the Cowal Peninsula affords golden opportunities to follow these with the help of enthusiastic local guides.

Families are catered for and evening events will be of interest if staying over for a few days in this beautiful part of Scotland. Cultural and heritage events, such as ceilidhs, will also be on offer.

A special feature this year will be walks, talks and entertainment celebrating the world-famous entertainer, Harry Lauder and his connections with Cowal. Please see our full programme which will be out by late June 2017.
 
Princess Anne gets Wild About ArgyllPrincess Anne gets Wild About Argyll
Added: 24 May 2017
HRH Princess Anne got Wild About Argyll on a visit to Portavadie today (23 May) where she spent over an hour and a half enjoying its famous scenery and hospitality.

During her stay she was shown round the state of the art facilities – including the new Spa and Leisure Experience – and unveiled a plaque in the Café to commemorate her visit before enjoying a light lunch of local Argyll produce.

Portavadie has rapidly established itself not just as one of Scotland’s best marinas, but also as one of the country’s top visitor destinations with unrivalled scenery, accommodation, restaurants and spa and leisure facilities.

Guests were enjoying what it has to offer this morning, as they have been throughout the year, unaware that a Royal guest was about to arrive. Many were delighted to have a brief chat with The Princess Royal as she was shown around by Portavadie staff. She also met some of the people who – in the space of just 10 years – have helped transform the site from a disused and abandoned dry dock into a world class destination.
Portavadie’s first phase – its 230-berth, state of the art marina – only opened in 2007.

Since then the owners have added:
· The Facilities Building – which includes luxury shower facilities, drying room, restaurant, bar and reception area (2009)

· The first of its Luxury Apartments, along with a shop and a chandlery (2010)

· The Lodge and Studio Apartments, along with expanding leisure activities for guests so as to offer beauty and wellbeing treatments (2011)

· Phase Two of Luxury Apartments (2012/13)

· The award-winning Spa and Leisure Experience, which includes an indoor pool, outdoor infinity pool, spa pools, café/deli, gym and events spaces. (2015)

All are positioned and designed to take maximum advantage of Portavadie’s stunning location, with spectacular views across Loch Fyne and beyond from virtually every corner.

Today the sun came out as The Princess Royal – herself a keen sailor – was shown around the boardwalk and marina areas and admired some of the many yachts and other vessels taking advantage of one of the most sheltered havens on the West Coast.

Portavadie General Manager Iain Jurgensen said the Royal visit was a highlight of what has been an exciting few years.

“It was wonderful to welcome The Princess Royal to this beautiful spot and to show her around our facilities,” he added.

“So many people have worked so hard to cement Portvadie’s place as one of Scotland’s best and most popular visitor magnets – whether for yachtsmen, day trippers or people looking to get away from it all in our top class accommodation.
“It’s very rewarding for them to be able to show such a high profile guest the results of all their efforts, and The Princess Royal seemed to be impressed with what she saw.

“Her visit will give us renewed energy as we continue to look for ways in which to improve what we offer our guests and make maximum use of the beauty and tranquillity of this unique location.”

The Princess also heard why investment in infrastructure in the area is important to support team members to choose to live and work in the area’s tourism sectors.

Iain continued: “The career pathways on offer at Portavadie may well become our most important legacy, affecting generations of young people and offering them rewarding careers in the hospitality industry. The economic impact of Portavadie is significant and there is a considerable need and demand for aspirational, affordable housing, which will enable team members to put down roots and support the fragile local economy.”

Portavadie is just two hours from Glasgow by road, and can also be reached by a short but spectacular 25 minute ferry trip from Tarbert, Loch Fyne.
For more information on Portavadie visit www.portavadie.com or email info@portavadie.com
 
Cowal unites for first local tourism summitCowal unites for first local tourism summit
Added: 16 May 2017
Businesses and organisations from across Cowal headed to Dunoon today (Tuesday 16 May) to hear about the future of tourism at the first local summit organised by Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC).

Held in Dunoon’s newly refurbished Burgh Hall, the summit brought together speakers from across Cowal and wider Argyll to outline the preparation of a local destination strategy and action plan.

These documents will form the foundation of how tourism looks, and is delivered in Cowal, affecting every tourism business in the area.

Organised by AITC Freelance Development Agent for Cowal Helen Dick and hosted by AITC Director Iain Jurgensen, this was an event about developing collaborative marketing opportunities between businesses and tourism’s destination marketing organisations, and bringing them together.

Representing the local view, and the changing face of Dunoon were:

Ann Campbell, Project Manager of Dunoon Burgh Hall – the Burgh Hall is Dunoon’s culture and events hub, which has been undergoing major refurbishment and will reopening to the public soon.

John Gordon, Argyll and Bute Council’s CHORD Programme Manager discussed the Dunoon Regeneration Projects.

Marily Rieley, Argyll and Bute Council’s Bute and Cowal Development Officer on the findings of the recent Think Dunoon Charrette and

Colin Moulson BID Manager – Dunoon Presents who’s events programme has brought significant footfall, and spend into the town as well raising Dunoon’s profile as a mountain biking destination.

To put this into a national perspective VisitScotland’s David Adams McGilp Regional Director and Donald Hoy Industry Relationship Manager gave an update on VisitScotland’s programme to promote Argyll and the Isles and how Cowal benefits from this publicity.

Delegates then heard from summit hosts, Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative. AITC’s Development Manager Carron Tobin spoke about the year-long Wild About Argyll campaign, launched at Glasgow’s Oran Mor at the end of January and featuring ultra adventurer Mark Beaumont.

AITC Director and Portavadie, Loch Fyne’s General Manager Iain Jurgensen spoke about The Skills Agenda. Portavadie is passionate about creating real careers in the hospitality industry and promoting home grown talent. The Loch Fyne destination is actively involved with schools and further education establishments to help young people into hospitality careers.

Finally Fiona McPhail of Kyles Marketing Group and Iain Fleming of Cowal Marketing Group spoke about their local destination marketing organisations and the importance of working together and collaboration between DMOs. They then launched both Cowal Marketing Group and Kyles Marketing Group’s Wild About Argyll film edits.

AITC Chair Gavin Dick welcomed the summit saying: “This is the first of many area summits, where businesses can come together at a very local level. We know, following feedback from our annual regional summits, that the opportunities to network, collaborate and develop working relationships are very important to delegates.

“Offering area summits which can zoom in and focus on these issues while also bringing in industry experts to talk about the regional and national agenda helps to put everything in perspective. We live and work in a region where tourism is everyone’s business and through these local tourism summits we will give every area the opportunity to have their voice heard. We encourage as many businesses to sign up for their local summit as soon as they are announced.”
 
Inveraray Castle wins Prestigious AwardInveraray Castle wins Prestigious Award
Added: 03 May 2017
Inveraray Castle has won an Award of Excellence based on customer feedback.

The Award was given by Irish coach tour operator, CIE Tours International, which recognises the quality of the UK’s hotels and visitor attractions by awarding a merit award to those who have received a greater than 90% customer satisfaction rating.

For the past 5 years, Inveraray Castle has earned an Excellence Award, which this year was based on the feedback of the 14,000 visitors CIE brought to the UK in 2016. CIE launched its UK awards five years ago, replicating its long running awards in Ireland.

Since then, the numbers of venues and attractions achieving a higher than 90% satisfaction rating in the UK has grown from 32 to 56. In 2016, the company enjoyed a 10% rise in visitors on their UK tours.

The award ceremony was held at Hotel du Vin Devonshire in Glasgow on Tuesday 25th April. Elizabeth Crabill, Managing Director of CIE Tours International commented: “We need to work hard to encourage our main market, US travellers, to holiday outside of the US, so the quality of the experience in the UK has to be consistently high. The level of customer satisfaction achieved by our suppliers plays a vital role in our current business growth.

“We are pleased to award these partners that have developed a notably excellent customer experience in the UK. We anticipate that demand for our UK tours will grow significantly in 2017, demonstrating the significance and growing appeal of Britain’s heritage and quality customer experience.

“Our Awards are well recognised and hugely respected in Ireland,” continued Elizabeth Crabill, “and it is gratifying to see that the awards have been embraced so quickly in the UK. The increase in the number of awards reflects how providers have incorporated our quality focus and that overall quality levels are increasing. This is great for our customers and the overall industry. Our visitors from North America are accustomed to very high levels of service and to achieve a rating above 90% from our travellers is very meaningful.

The rise in standards in only five years in our UK providers is remarkable and it proves that people’s efforts in striving for high standards pays off.”

During 2016, CIE Tours took visitors to 175 visitor attractions and 75 hotels across the UK, paying a total of £10 million to its UK suppliers, including buying around 150,000 hotel bed nights. We are all thrilled to win yet again for the 5th year running the prestigious CIE Award of Excellence.

This is all credit to all the wonderful and professional staff here at Inveraray Castle who look after our visitors so well. To consistently achieve over 90% from CIE’s North American clients is truly gratifying.

 
THE ADVENTURE SYNDICATE LAUNCH ULTRA-DISTANCE RACE TEAM WITH TOUR OF THE HIGHLANDS, 3RD-12TH MAYTHE ADVENTURE SYNDICATE LAUNCH ULTRA-DISTANCE RACE TEAM WITH TOUR OF THE HIGHLANDS, 3RD-12TH MAY
Added: 30 Apr 2017
Women’s cycling powerhouse The Adventure Syndicate have announced Ride The Highlands: a self-supported tour of the Scottish Highlands and Islands, with the dual purpose of promoting active travel among remote communities and launching their new race team, The Quad.

Athletes Lee Craigie, Rickie Cotter, Emily Chappell and Paula Regener will leave Glasgow on their bikes on the Wednesday 3rd May (accompanied by photographer James Robertson), and follow a 500-mile route that takes in the Caledonian Way and the Hebridean Way, visiting schools and communities in Oban, Fort William, Inverness, Stornoway, Harris and Uist.

Having ridden through Arran to reach Oban and carrying camping equipment for the week, The Quad will be hosted by Oban Cycles on Thursday 4th for an inspiring evening of films and a Q&A session. The following day they will visit Lochaber High School before arriving in Inverness on the 6th May.

The Quad will then host an overnight adventure by bike for girls between the ages of 13 and 16 in the Inverness area, in collaboration with Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland and Velocity Café & Bicycle Workshop, before riding over to Ullapool and starting their journey south through the Western Isles. Scaladale Activity Centre will co ordinate mountain bike sessions and film showings in Stornoway (8th May), Harris (9th May) and Uist (10th), and The Quad will then travel to London for an official launch appearance at Spin Cycling Festival on the 12th May.

As well as being athletes at the top of their game, The Quad are skilled communicators and are passionate about increasing awareness of the physical and emotional benefits of riding a bike. Their school visits will include a showing of ‘Escape’, a short film produced by Sustrans and starring athlete Lee Craigie, followed by an inspirational talk and a Q&A workshop around how to travel self-supported by bike, and in some cases an accompanied ride-out and overnight camp. In association with Paths For All, who work hard to promote the benefits of cycling and walking over driving in Highland communities, The Adventure Syndicate will also conduct research into the reasons why people (especially women and girls) choose not to ride their bikes.

Lee Craigie says “We are really looking forward to launching The Quad with Ride the Highlands, and to visiting all these communities where promoting active travel could make a valuable difference to people’s physical and emotional wellbeing. We are also really excited about riding as a team for the first time, and preparing our bodies and equipment for the race challenges we will all face later this summer.”

The Quad is the first professional racing team to focus entirely on self-supported, ultra-distance events, and consists of Lee Craigie (former British Mountain Bike Champion and member of Team GB), Emily Chappell (London cycle courier turned ultra-endurance road racer), Rickie Cotter (24-hour Mountain Bike Champion) and Paula Regener (long-distance self-supported cycling specialist). Over the next few months Rickie and Lee will be taking on the Highland Trail 550 (Scotland), the Tour Divide (Canada to Mexico, June) and the Colorado Trail Race (Denver to Durango, July), and Paula and Emily will be racing the TransAtlanticWay (Ireland, June) and the Transcontinental (Belgium to Greece, August).

The Adventure Syndicate and The Quad are grateful to Leigh Day, Apidura, Exped and Findra for their support in helping them achieve their social and athletic aims.
 
Expo-sing Argyll & The Isles Region’s tourism businesses to meet global tour operators Expo-sing Argyll & The Isles Region’s tourism businesses to meet global tour operators
Added: 20 Apr 2017
Argyll & The Isles Tourism Cooperative (AITC), Cruise Loch Lomond and Cowal Way will be joining top tourism businesses and organisations at Scotland’s biggest travel trade event at the SEC (Scottish Event Campus) in Glasgow next week.

VisitScotland Expo 2017, on 26 and 27 April, will be the 38th staging of Scotland’s biggest business-to-business event for the travel trade. The national tourism organisation’s flagship show will give 276 Scottish tourism businesses – including accommodation providers, visitor attractions and activity providers – from every corner of the country the chance to showcase their products and services to more than 600 tour operators and travel agents from all over the world.

The event is expected to create a net economic impact of £2.5 million for the local economy while, thanks to one-to-one appointments facilitated by VisitScotland, exhibitors are expected to generate an average of £22,000 worth of gross turnover as a result of attending.

The Argyll & The Isles exhibitors will be showcasing the region as a world-class visitor destination – as the current Wild About Argyll marketing campaign highlights so effectively – and inspiring travel trade professionals from the home and overseas markets to bring their clients to explore all that it offers.

VisitScotland is organising a number of familiarisation visits or ‘fam trips’ for groups of the Expo attendees. The series includes a trip to Mull and overnight stay at the Ardanaiseig Hotel for a 12-strong group of US-tour operators sponsored by Delta Air Lines.

In addition, a Film and Literature trip will involve a group of international delegates enjoying dinner and an overnight stay at Loch Melfort Hotel at Arduaine near Oban, visiting Inveraray Castle – the location for a Downton Abbey Christmas special – and lunch at Loch Fyne Oyster Bar.

David Adams McGilp, VisitScotland Regional Director, said: “These fam trips are a great way of letting travel operators experience a selection of the wonderful, diverse range of attractions that Argyll & The Isles boasts. Giving Expo delegates a taste of what their own tour customers could enjoy here definitely allows us to demonstrate the huge sales potential the region has. A visit really helps to ‘seal the deal’ so it’s fantastic that we’ll be welcoming these very influential visitors here.

“I’m delighted too that Argyll & The Isles will have a strong presence at Expo and I’m sure that attendees will be impressed – particularly by the superb Wild About Argyll marketing materials. Collaboration is vital to grow tourism so it’s great to see such commitment to working together and to capitalising on this fantastic opportunity to engage with key travel trade professionals from all over the world.”

Gavin Dick, Chair of Argyll & The Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) said: “We’re really looking forward to being back at VisitScotland Expo in Glasgow showcasing our Wild About Argyll campaign. Glasgow is the city on our doorstep and a key message for the international travel trade is that Scotland’s Adventure Coast is just a stone’s throw away from the city. Argyll & The Isles has an incredible range of land and water-based adventures to suit all interests and abilities.

“Through our Wild About Argyll film and other content we hope to give the travel trade a real taste of the adventures their clients can experience – both wild and mild. We are delighted so many attendees are undertaking fam trips in Argyll and that a number of our local operators are able to demonstrate first hand just what we have on offer - and how AITC can help attendees build their own Wild About Argyll itineraries and tours.”
 
 New festival heads to Helensburgh in August
Added: 19 Apr 2017
Argyll Gathering is a new Scottish event celebrating the best of music, culture and the arts opening its doors August 19th - 20th 2017 in the stunning setting of Helensburgh. The event will showcase the best in traditional contemporary Scottish music, local food and drink and feature interactive workshops.

Community is at the heart of the festival and its goal is to celebrate the best of what Scotland has to offer culturally; Argyll Gathering is not just a festival, but a platform for people to interact and form an artistic movement.

So far, artists confirmed are the former lead singer of one of Scotland’s most celebrated groups, Runrig‘s Donnie Munro, who will be performing live with a full band. The most famous bagpipe band in the world, Red Hot Chilli Pipers will be bringing their ground-breaking fusion of traditional Scottish music and rock/pop anthems, Scottish supergroup Treacherous Orchestra are the third of the festival’s headliners - their foot-stomping, Celtic rock performance is sure to blow spectators away.

The festival also boasts additional praised artists, Bwani Junction who will perform “Graceland” by Paul Simon, Elephant Sessions, Manran, Federation of the Disco Pimp, Jarlath Henderson Band, Blue Rose Code, Daimh, Fat-Suit, Pronto Mama and, finally Nae Plans (Adam Sutherland & Hamish Napier) will perform over both days with special guests and added surprises.

A community workshop tent, aimed at all ages will showcase music, art and the Gaelic language. There will be delicious food courtesy of Food From Argyll, sweet treats, a carefully selected beer and ale bar, an independent spirits bar and children’s entertainment will be on offer making the festival something for all the family to enjoy.

Having been born and raised in Helensburgh, Festival organiser James Windebank has seen the town evolve and change over 30 years. “The one thing that I always wanted my hometown to have was a spectacular event that focussed on bringing people together to listen to great music, have a dram and really enjoy themselves as a community of people!”

Together with co-curator, Nick Lawrie, he and Windebank have independently worked on some of the largest cultural projects in the world and wanted to curate an event to bring out the best facets of that they have learnt working events over the years.

Windebank goes on to say, “We believe that an event such as this should enhance its home turf, and really bring something to the table. That could be a great music line up that speaks to its patrons, showcasing the gorgeous larder of Scotland, or exposing people to the rich creative culture that exists all around us.”

Helensburgh and its surroundings are renowned for their picturesque backdrop. The area is steeped in Scottish history, it has also offered events such as highland games and piping championships to carry on traditions.
 
Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative delighted to see Mark Beaumont back in Argyll on Day 8 of his Around Britain training ride Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative delighted to see Mark Beaumont back in Argyll on Day 8 of his Around Britain training ride
Added: 11 Apr 2017
Mark Beaumont was Wild About Argyll and then some on day 8 of his Around Britain training ride.

Having started the day in Dumfries and Galloway, Mark headed north, and following a short ferry ride from Gourock, entered Argyll in Cowal, before heading west to Portavadie, over to Tarbert, across to Kilberry before heading north again on the A83 to Oban.

Along the way he passed some of Argyll’s most scenic locations, including the stunning Kyles of Bute, as well as some very familiar landmarks, which played their part in his Wild About Argyll challenge.

Gavin Dick Chair of Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) has been following Mark on his tracker, and has been very impressed with the pace he has maintained day after day since leaving London. The pace was staggering, as was the incredible speed he showed today through Ayrshire before catching the ferry across the Clyde at lunchtime saying:

“This is an enormous challenge and we’re amazed at his performance. We are very proud to say Mark is the face of Wild About Argyll and know he is inspiring the next generation of ultra adventurers. We are looking forward to seeing him complete this part of his training, before his ultimate round the world in 80 days adventure this summer.

“We encourage everyone to get behind Mark, give him their support and follow him around the entire coast of the Scottish mainland before heading south to London, via his tracker at http://www.artemisworldcycle.com/live-update/ - this truly is a tremendous effort from Mark and the team.”
 
Statement on Mark Beaumont’s world record attempt to ride round the world in 80 daysStatement on Mark Beaumont’s world record attempt to ride round the world in 80 days
Added: 03 Apr 2017
Commenting on Mark Beaumont’s Round the World in 80 Days announcement this morning, Chair of Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative Gavin Dick said: “This is a phenomenal challenge, we continue to be astonished by Mark’s ability to push the boundaries of endurance cycling. We wish Mark and all the Artemis World Cycle Team, the very best of luck for the ultimate challenge this summer and we’ll be following him throughout his Around Britain training ride via his tracker on http://www.artemisworldcycle.com.

“Great things happen when you challenge your own boundaries and through this incredible world record attempt Mark will also be inspiring the next generation of endurance athletes. We are proud to have Mark Beaumont as the face of Wild About Argyll and look forward to welcoming him back to Argyll and the Isles in a few days time as he circumnavigates the 3,500 mile coastline of Britain.”

Mark will cycle through Argyll and the Isles approximately a week after he sets off on the Around Britain ride on 4 April. Anyone interested in joining Mark for a few miles should follow the tracker on the website for live updates.

The photo shows Mark Beaumont on the A83 during his Wild About Argyll 12 day epic challenge - wildaboutargyll.co.uk. Photo credit Kieran J Duncan
 
Collaboration, travel, history and adventure – the sixth AITC summit has it all Collaboration, travel, history and adventure – the sixth AITC summit has it all
Added: 21 Mar 2017
Representatives from tourism businesses from across the Argyll and the Isles region headed to the banks of Loch Awe on Tuesday (21st March) to be part of the sixth annual Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) summit during the Scottish Tourism Week 2017.

The theme of this year’s summit was City / Coast Connections and the collaborations which can be built between both. AITC has been working closely with Glasgow Life (formerly Glasgow City Marketing Bureau) on the current year long Wild About Argyll campaign, and welcomed Marketing Communications Director Tom Rice to the Lochawe stage to talk about how collaborating with Glasgow, the city on our doorstep, can be a win-win for tourism growth across both destinations.

Wild About Argyll, which launched in Glasgow’s Oran Mor at the end of January, was at the forefront of the day. Delegates heard about its success so far, and the opportunities for their businesses to get involved in this exciting campaign. The face of Wild About Argyll, ultra adventurer Mark Beaumont, whose 12 day epic adventure lies at the heart of the campaign, dropped in during a training ride and spoke to delegates about his personal highlights from the epic adventure and his belief in Argyll and the Isles ability to transform its appeal to a younger more active market.

This year is Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archeology and the Lochawe venue was influenced greatly by the proximity to St Conan’s Kirk. This is a key location on the historic West Highland Line and one, which owes its existence to tourism. First used as a place of worship in 1930, St Conan’s Kirk is a remarkable and often eccentric building, which is one of Argyll’s gems. Delegates were treated to talks in the kirk during the morning session, a wonderful venue for a summit, which aimed to inspire as well as inform.

The lunchtime and afternoon venue for the summit was the Loch Awe Hotel, which overlooks Kilchurn Castle on the banks of Loch Awe. The hotel, which is owned and operated by Lochs and Glens is a magnificent landmark in the area which commemorates the arrival of the West Highland railway to the west coast in the late 19th century.

Keynote speakers included VisitScotland’s Director of Marketing Charlie Smith who spoke about the on-line community and collaboration. People First Chief Executive David Allen spoke about the importance of WorldHost in Argyll and the Isles. WorldHost is an internationally recognised standard for excellence in customer service. AITC has recently been awarded WorldHost accreditation as a business and is working towards Argyll and the Isles becoming a WorldHost Regional Destination.

As with all AITC summits, networking and breakout sessions played an important role. This year the emphasis was on skills and how to build effective city / coast connections and how to turn these into effective partnerships. AITC directors Iain Jurgensen and Cathy Craig were joined by Graeme MacFarlan of Calmac.

AITC Chair Gavin Dick thanked delegates for the attending this year’s summit saying: “I am delighted to welcome so many tourism representatives to Lochawe today. Some are old friends, who have attended every summit, but also new businesses. It is hugely encouraging to see the confidence in tourism in Argyll and the Isles and we are very proud to represent you at a local, regional and national level.

“With the strong focus on travel, and the location on the historic West Highland Line, AITC is very grateful to ScotRail for their sponsorship of this year’s summit and providing free train travel to the summit from Glasgow. We’d also like to thank Neil Wells from Lochs and Glens for use of the Loch Awe Hotel as our venue, VisitScotland for their contribution towards lunch, and of course Food From Argyll who once again showed how wonderful our region’s produce is.

“I hope everyone will take home today the themes of our summit and apply them to their own businesses – and above all get directly involved in our Wild About Argyll initiative. I hope everyone has a very busy season and builds many new partnerships over the year.”

For more information on AITC visit www.exploreargyll.co.uk or email info@exploreargyll.co.uk and to find out more about AITC’s Wild About Argyll campaign visit www.wildaboutargyll.co.uk

St.Conan’s Kirk Notes to Editors St.Conan’s Kirk is a hidden architectural gem located on the atmospheric north shore of Loch Awe, Argyll - Scotland’s longest loch. Started in 1886 and completed in 1930, the kirk was designed by Walter Douglas Campbell who employed an eclectic mix of architectural styles. Notable features include weathered stonework from Iona Abbey, a large stained glass window from fifteenth century St Mary’s church in Leith and a bone from Robert the Bruce. Work is currently ongoing to identify the significant resources to maintain and restore the building which has been voted one of Scotland’s top ten most iconic buildings of the 20th Century. More details about St.Conan’s and the preservation campaign can be found at https://www.stconanskirk.org.uk/
 
Leading by example – AITC achieve WorldHost status Leading by example – AITC achieve WorldHost status
Added: 16 Mar 2017
As part of the aim for Argyll and the Isles to become a WorldHost Regional Destination, Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) is leading by example, and recently achieved WorldHost accreditation.

The hallmark of excellent customer service, WorldHost has been used to train more than 1 million people worldwide – and was the programme used for the tens of thousands of volunteers and staff at the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

WorldHost was launched in Scotland in 2014 and since then has trained over 10,000 staff across the country. In order to achieve WorldHost accreditation, AITC had to demonstrate that, a minimum of 50 percent of its customer facing staff attend and pass WorldHost workshops.

AITC’s development agent team showed its commitment to providing excellent customer service by attending a WorldHost training day in Portavadie. This fun and interactive workshop, which is tailored to the tourism industry, includes delegates learning how important is to the local economy and why it is important for every individual to play their part in growing tourism in our area.

Across Argyll and the Isles, businesses are putting their staff through the programme, and achieving World Host recognition. To date AITC who work with Business Gateway to deliver the training, has enabled the free training of 254 delegates across the region.

Chair of AITC Gavin Dick explained: “You only have one chance to make a good first impression and we want tourism businesses across Argyll and the Isles to make the best one possible. WorldHost training gives your staff the confidence and tools to deal with providing great customer service together with what to do in a difficult situation.

“Our aim is to make Argyll and the Isles a WorldHost Regional Destination, this is an ambitious target as we need 25% of tourism businesses in each of our towns to go through the training. However, we believe it is achievable and will create a welcome Argyll and the Isles can be proud of.”

Kate Fraser of Business Gateway in Argyll and Bute said: “WorldHost is a well-respected training programme that can bring real benefits to a tourism business through delivering excellent customer care. Argyll and Bute Council’s Business Gateway has worked in partnership with AITC to help a wide range of businesses access this training. Our advisers have delivered more than 26 World Host workshops through this partnership, making a significant contribution to helping the area move closer to achieving World Host Destination status”.

For more information on getting your staff WorldHost trained contact info@exploreargyll.co.uk ENDS
 
Scottish Tourism Alliance responds to Finance Minister’s announcement on 12-month business rates cap for hospitality and licensed trade businessesScottish Tourism Alliance responds to Finance Minister’s announcement on 12-month business rates cap for hospitality and licensed trade businesses
Added: 21 Feb 2017
STATEMENT ISSUED BY THE SCOTTISH TOURISM ALLIANCE 21 February 2017

The Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA), the British Hospitality Association (BHA) and the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) have campaigned heavily over the last few months to bring about a reversal in the proposal to increase business rates.

We wrote to the First Minister and other Ministers demanding a need for a review of the business rates revaluation and have had regular dialogue with Scottish Government to convey our views, concerns and evidence from businesses on the devastating impact of the proposed Commercial Rateable Values on Scotland’s tourism industry.

We are hugely boosted and encouraged by the Finance Minister’s announcement of a 12.5% business rates cap for hospitality and licensed trade businesses of one year, a pragmatic move which will allow the Barclay Review group to report on its findings, and for a more equitable process for rates evaluation to be agreed and applied.

We know that this afternoon’s news will be welcomed by tourism businesses across Scotland, businesses which yesterday were facing serious financial challenges post-April and in many cases, closure and the loss of many jobs.
The STA, BHA and the SLTA will proceed with our planned meeting with Scottish Government Cabinet Ministers Derek Mackay and Keith Brown at 1.30pm tomorrow to discuss the Finance Minister’s relief package in more detail, and also the desired process to be followed by the Assessors before a new approach is introduced on 1st April 2018.

Tourism has been acknowledged by Scottish Government as being “Scotland’s most important industry”; today’s announcement underlines and highlights the government’s support for our industry and acknowledges the importance of tourism as the main economic driver in Scotland.

It is important that we as an industry continue to work together to bring about the changes that will enable our industry to prosper and grow and to support the creation of policies that will not only allow us to compete with the rest of the world, but put us on the front foot for getting ahead of the game.

This is hugely encouraging news and will undoubtedly offer tourism businesses confidence to continue to deliver these quality, authentic experiences for visitors during what is set to be a busy year for our industry.

We very much welcome today’s announcement and look forward to continuing our dialogue with Scottish Government, its agencies and tourism businesses over the coming weeks.
 
Tourism body celebrates five years of achievements Tourism body celebrates five years of achievements
Added: 12 Feb 2017
Hot on the heels of the successful launch of Wild About Argyll in Glasgow at the end of January, Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) has issued their key statistics and achievements 2011 – 2016.

As AITC prepares for its sixth annual tourism summit, which this year will be held in Lochawe Hotel, Lochawe on 21 March 2017, the release of this document underlines the importance of tourism to the economy of the region and the significant effect the body has had on the tourism industry in Argyll and the Isles.

Scottish Government statistics show in the period 2011 - 2014, Argyll and the Isles comprehensively outperformed Scotland as a whole in terms of tourism, citing:
• Argyll and the Isles total visitor spend increased from £199m to £270m – an increase of 36% compared with 4% for Scotland.
• Argyll and the Isles overseas visitor spend rose from £36m to £46m – an increase of 28% against 23% for Scotland.
• Argyll and the Isles Sustainable Tourism GVA rose from £81m to £127m an increase of 57% compared with 29% for Scotland.
• Argyll and the Isles Turnover rose from £167m to £227m an increase of 36% against 15% for Scotland

Source: Office of National Statistics, Annual Business Survey (Compiled by Scottish Government)

In addition, according to the Visitor Attraction Monitor, the greatest percentage increase in visitors to attractions by council area between 2015 and 2016 was in Argyll and the Isles at 21.9% compared to 4.9% for Scotland. (Source: Visitor Attraction Monitor, The Moffat Centre, Glasgow Caledonian University).

AITC Chair Gavin Dick is delighted by how far the organisation has come in five years saying: “Although AITC cannot and is not claiming that this performance is down to our activity alone, these statistics are authoritative proof of the importance of tourism to our region and the effect AITC has had in changing the way tourism is represented in Argyll and the Isles. Bringing businesses and organisations together from across the region, along with partners who have national influence under one umbrella, has seen a seismic shift in how tourism works in Argyll and the Isles.

“Five years ago we were a group of tourism businesses and individuals with a vision. With a lot of hard work and dedication from everyone involved, we have turned that vision into a reality. AITC currently has 11 destination marketing organisations and five sectoral group members which give access to over 1300 businesses. We have 10 freelance development managers and agents who work across the whole region. We also have 10 directors who provide their time and expertise on a voluntary basis, there simply is no group better equipped to the task of delivering tourism’s economic benefits to the region as AITC.”

AITC’s 2017 campaign Wild About Argyll, which features ultra adventurer Mark Beaumont’s 12 day Argyll and the Isles adventure, was launched at Oran Mor, Glasgow on 31 January. Skerryvore’s new single ‘Live Forever’, which features video from the 12 day epic adventure, is the Wild About Argyll campaign theme.

The year long campaign is designed to introduce potential visitors to our region, Scotland’s adventure coast, and to put together their own ‘Wild About Argyll’ adventure – whether they are here for a day trip, short break, or longer holiday.

For more details on AITC visit www.exploreargyll.co.uk or email info@exploreargyll.co.uk and if you want to find out more about how you can get Wild About Argyll visit www.wildaboutargyll.co.uk
Attachments: Download File
 
New Scottish tourism campaign encourages adventure seekers to go ‘Wild About Argyll’New Scottish tourism campaign encourages adventure seekers to go ‘Wild About Argyll’
Added: 31 Jan 2017
More than 250 members from across the country’s tourism community are set to gather in Glasgow tonight (Tuesday, January 31) for the unveiling of ‘Wild About Argyll’ – an exciting new marketing campaign aimed at encouraging more visitors to take advantage of Scotland’s Adventure Coast.

Created by Argyll and The Isles Tourism Cooperative (AITC), the ambitious £100,000 initiative is geared at showcasing the breadth of outstanding outdoors activities and adventure sports available throughout the west coast to a global audience over the next 12 months.

Taking place at Oran Mor in the city’s West End, the launch of Wild About Argyll will be hosted by renowned Scottish adventure athlete, Mark Beaumont – the record-breaking long distance cyclist, adventurer, broadcaster and author who is famous the world over for his endurance challenges.

Mark, who spent part of his childhood living in Argyll, will recount an epic 12-day multi-sport adventure that he undertook across the region last summer – from trail-biking, fell running and horse-riding to quad-biking, kayaking, sailing and wild swimming – which will be at the heart of a series of short films supporting the new campaign to be shown in cinemas, on TV and online.

A highlight of the event will be a live performance of ‘Live Forever’ which has been chosen as the soundtrack for the Wild About Argyll campaign and will be premiered by Scottish folk fusion band SKERRYVORE, fresh from collecting their Live Act of the Year accolade at the Scots Trad Music Awards in December.

The evening will also feature music from newcomers Tide Lines, who hail from the west coast, tasting sessions from Food from Argyll and projection of some of the footage from Mark’s challenge onto the spire of Oran Mor.

Adventure tourism has been identified as an area for growth within Scotland. Tourism Scotland 2020, the national tourism strategy, highlights ‘activities and adventure’ – worth an estimated £759 million to the economy – and mountain biking, valued at £119 million, as sectors with real potential.

A pan-Scotland research report, led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and published in 2015, also found that of 351 businesses surveyed in the sector, 84% expect future demand to increase in the next three to five years with almost a fifth expecting this to be significantly so.

With 12% of those businesses located in Argyll and The Isles, the Wild About Argyll campaign aims to capitalise on the considerable tourism growth potential the region possesses as Scotland’s first choice destination for adventure seekers.

A key theme of Wild About Argyll will be the promotion of the region’s accessibility for tourists and day-trippers, with strong emphasis on the increased volume of fast, reliable and cost effective rail, bus, ferry and air services into the mainland and islands from Glasgow and the wider central belt.

The launch of the campaign coincides with the recent launch of Glasgow’s new Tourism and Visitor Plan to 2023.
Led by tourism partners Glasgow Life, VisitScotland and Scottish Enterprise, it provides the framework through which the city will attract one million more visitors and position Glasgow as the ‘gateway to Scotland’ over the next seven years.

Achieving a baseline of three million overnight visits per year by 2023 will deliver an economic boost of £771 million and contribute an additional 6,600 jobs in the city.

It will also help to achieve Scotland’s target of an additional £1 billion of visitor expenditure by 2020 and align with the aims of the Glasgow City Region City Deal; supporting the growth of the wider west of Scotland economy.

Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, said: “Tourism is of vital importance to our rural and island communities, which every year welcome millions of visitors. Our dramatic landscapes and seascapes provide the perfect background for a wide range of adventure tourism experiences. I welcome this ambitious initiative by Argyll and The Isles Tourism Co-operative, which will showcase some of the best of what Scotland has to offer.”


Scots adventurer Mark Beaumont said:“Having spent my youngest years on a farm in Argyll, I have always wanted to go back and explore. This epic journey across land and sea didn’t disappoint and made me realise that Argyll and The Isles is one of the best adventure playgrounds in the world. There’s a staggering diversity of terrain and sporting opportunities – and I know that the series of short films made for Wild About Argyll will showcase the area in new and exciting ways. I’m proud to have roots in Argyll and can’t wait to go back.”


Gavin Dick, Chair of Argyll and the Isles Tourism Cooperative (AITC), said: “When we set Mark an epic multi-sport challenge across Argyll and The Isles last summer our aim was to have fun but to also collect as much stunning, inspirational footage as possible to really focus attention on Argyll and the Isles as Scotland’s Adventure Coast.

“The juxtaposition of this unrivalled tourism experience on the doorstep of Glasgow is what excites us most. We have an amazing quality and diversity of activities available throughout the region and the ease of access, whether for a day out or an extended stay, is pretty unique. We’re delighted to be working so closely with Glasgow to attract new visitors and further develop strategic links with the city’s new tourism plan.”


Dick Walsh, Leader of Argyll and Bute Council, said: “Mark Beaumont’s epic, but often arduous, journey across some of Scotland’s most breathtaking scenery certainly helped showcase Argyll and Bute as a wonderful area to visit. As a council we are also committed to attracting people to live and work in one of the country’s most promising regions and we were delighted when he undertook the challenge in our area. There is no doubt this new campaign will help boost the number of people coming here.”


Councillor Frank McAveety, Leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “Wild About Argyll is a fantastic campaign and launching it in Glasgow is the next step in a programme of joint working between the city and the AITC team over the past year to create new links with Argyll and The Isles; encouraging tourists and visitors to consider the west coast region as part of a trip to Glasgow.

“Tourism is the cornerstone of Glasgow’s economy and our tourism products and experiences are hugely complementary – Pinkston Watersports Centre, which is home to Scotland’s only artificial whitewater course, and Cathkin Braes trails for example are the perfect introduction to the likes of kayaking and mountain biking in the city before really getting to grips with it in Argyll.

“We are committed to working with partners like AITC to achieve our ambitious objectives of positioning Glasgow as the gateway to Scotland; attracting one million more visitors and realising the huge potential of the sector for the city and country as a whole over the next seven years.”


Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said: “The stunning inland and coastal landscapes of Argyll and The Isles make it a perfect natural adventure playground for a vast range of outdoors activities, and one of the great advantages of this incredible region is that its unspoilt rugged beauty isn’t remote – it’s easily accessible, particularly to visitors travelling from Glasgow and the Central Belt.

“There’s simply no better destination across the length and breadth of our country to experience the Spirit of Scotland and enjoy world-class adventure sports opportunities and facilities, so it’s great that this exciting new campaign will increase awareness of that and promote Argyll and The Isles to lovers of our great outdoors.

“We wish AITC every success with it and I’m confident that the campaign’s inspirational footage of Mark Beaumont’s action-packed trip to the region will encourage many people to follow in his footsteps, providing a great boost to tourism and the visitor economy.”

Image courtesy of Finalcrux Films
 
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