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AITC official news stories
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 or email and to find out more about AITC’s Wild About Argyll campaign visit

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
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 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

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 or email and if you want to find out more about how you can get Wild About Argyll visit
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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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