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Loch and RollLoch and Roll
Added: 12 Apr 2018

Argyll Holidays’ Gig in the Goil kicks off the festival season

Back for the third consecutive year, Gig in the Goil is set to be bigger and better than ever before. The brainchild of award winning holiday park operator Argyll Holidays, the boutique festival will showcase the very best of Scottish musical talent over three days (11 to 13 May) for what will be a fantastic weekend for music lovers of all ages.

Over 50 acts will perform over the weekend with some of the country’s finest acoustic, contemporary, folk and traditional artists coming together for the festival. Set against the backdrop of Argyll’s breath-taking landscape, there will also be plenty of entertainment for little ones.

Over 200 tickets for Gig in the Goil have already sold, with organisers anticipating another sell out weekend. Festival headliners Skippinish will entertain the crowd on the Saturday night, bringing their unmistakable cotemporary Celtic sound to Argyll. On the back of a stand out 2017, ending with a sold-out gig at Glasgow’s iconic Barrowland Ballroom and being crowned ’Live Act of 2017’ at the Scot Trad awards, the band are lined up to play an unmissable set.

Calum Gray, Event Co-ordinator at Argyll Holidays, said: "Gig in the Goil is a highlight of the summer for us here at Argyll Holidays, and after the success of the last two years we can’t wait to kick off the festival for 2018.

"It’s great to offer something a little different from the bigger, commercial festivals that dominate the summer months, and really showcase the immense talent we have right here in Scotland. Each year we’re able to invite more outstanding performers to our holiday park and the line-up for 2018 is superb.

"The acts will perform across the Main stage, Indie stage and Acoustic stage over the weekend, with our three unique venues catering to all music tastes. From intimate shows from singer/songwriters at our cosy Fireside Bar, to rip-roaring Scottish folk music guaranteed to get the crowd on their feet, Gig in the Goil has something for everyone."

Making their return to Gig in the Goil and joining Skippinish over the weekend is popular six-piece Heron Valley, who will open the festival with an energetic set of traditional Scottish and Irish folk music. Eclectic Scots folk band Hò-rò – who recently won ’Up and Coming Artist of the Year’ at the 2017 Scot Trad awards – will bring the event to a close on Sunday night.

For those looking to enjoy the festival in style, Argyll Holidays has a number of luxury hot tub lodges and caravans available over the weekend, with prices starting at £80. Guests will also be able to advantage of a number of Go Active outdoor activities over the weekend, with everything from archery to quad biking available.

For more information visit and follow @giginthegoil on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest updates.
World Host Week – can you afford to miss out? World Host Week – can you afford to miss out?
Added: 11 Apr 2018
Argyll & The Isles is seeking to become a World Host Destination by 2019 – where customer care is a top priority and everyone gets the warmest welcome.

World Host is the training programme all the volunteers did for the London Olympics in 2012 and is ideally suited to the tourism industry. Argyll & The Isles Tourism Cooperative is working with Business Gateway and People First on this exciting initiative and has made great inroads in 2017. Over 420 people have been trained in the internationally recognised World Host Principles of Customer care across Argyll. For the Spring Programme 2018 workshops have already taken place on Mull, Islay and Bute. Over April and May there are more than 150 places being made available with a special push during World Host Week from 16-20 April 2018 – timed to suit businesses who have just recruited their seasonal staff.

To achieve destination accreditation 200 businesses need to train more than 50% of their front of house staff. So far over 170 businesses have taken part and many of these are now displaying their World Host accredited business certificates at their premises and on their websites. Each member of staff also has their own certificate. To help get the region closer to their target a concerted effort is being made with several workshops planned across the region next week.

These Business Gateway supported workshops are free for small businesses and AITC can also offer in-house business training packages for your team at very competitive prices using their accredited trainer Lynn Jones.

Iain Jurgensen, the Chair of the Argyll & The Isles World Host Steering Group said “Customer Care is critical to the visitor experience and World Host is an exceptionally good training programme for for those delivering the guest journey. Our aim is to have Argyll & The Isles designated as an official World Host destination which would enable a competitive advantage for business. World Host Week offers the opportunity to get as many people trained in advance of this 2018 main season and to help us reach our target. Many of these places are completely funded via Business Gateway so a real win win!!”

Lynn Jones, the AITC World Host Trainer added “The Spring Programme and especially WorldHost week is a great opportunity for businesses to show their commitment to provide excellent customer service. I am enjoying working with businesses right across Argyll and out to some of our remotest islands and I believe that we will soon be able to promote Argyll and The Isles as a destination that gives the very warmest welcome to visitors”

The Spring Programme dates are as follows:

APRIL WorldHost Week 16-20 April
16 April - Portavadie
17 April - Tarbert
- Campbeltown
18 April - Inveraray
19 April - Arrochar
- Colonsay
- Portavadie (in-house)
20 April - Colonsay

2 May - Bute
9 May - Dunoon
24 May - Oban
29 May - Lochgilphead
29 May - Islay (in-house)

There are up to 16 places at each workshop so to sign up simply contact your local AITC development agent via your area-based DMO/Marketing group or email for more details. If you are interested in an in-house workshop for your team please simply email and this can be set up.
Wild About Argyll Wild About Argyll
Added: 10 Jan 2018
New video from Bikepacking Scotland captures the beauty of Scotland’s Adventure Coast on two wheels

Argyll and the Isles, Scotland’s Adventure Coast, provides an awe-inspiring setting for bikepacking. With funding from Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-Operative, Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland Bikepacking Scotland has added another trail to its offer recently, and just released the new short film ‘Wild About Argyll’ to showcase the route. At 655 km (407 miles) the Wild About Argyll Trail is a long-distance cycling trail that was designed specifically with gravel bikes in mind.

While Bikepacking Scotland Founder and Round the World Cyclist Markus Stitz was initially doubtful about the attraction of gravel bikes, a great demand for a gravel route in a survey conducted as part of the project, with 576 responses from 26 countries, changed his mind:

‘My feelings about gravel bikes were mixed. I never warmed up to the idea of drop bars and off-road. This combination only offered limited attraction to me, but I was proven totally wrong since I started working on this project. It is the nature of gravel riding, fast and adventurous at the same time, which ultimately changed my mind, and the Wild About Argyll Trail delivers exactly that.’

Just a few miles north-west of Glasgow Argyll and the Isles is an outstanding coastal region, where 80% of the population live within 1 km of water. Argyll not only offers sea lochs, islands, hills and glens to explore, but also an abundance of forest tracks and paths, which makes it a premium destination for gravel riders. It is also home to a temperate rainforest habitat rarer than tropical rainforests, and a very special place for spotting rare wildlife.

‘Wild About Argyll’ was filmed in October 2017 while riding the route for the first time and follows Markus on his journey on a Surly Straggler gravel bike. After the success of the ‘Reiver Raid’, which was shortlisted as ‘MTB Video of the Year’ at the Scottish Mountain Bike Awards in Glasgow, ‘Wild About Argyll’ is the latest film to inspire people to visit Argyll, following in the tire tracks of the Wild About Argyll campaign with Mark Beaumont earlier in 2017.

Markus continues: ‘Wild About Argyll was filmed on an iPhone and a drone while riding the trail for the first time. Although the weather was a challenge as frequent rain made it difficult to capture the footage, I think this film portrays well what riding on the West Coast of Scotland is about. There’s nothing polished in the film. For me riding in Scotland is not about sunny, blue skies every day, it is much more about exploring those dense forests, waterfalls, streams and the beautiful coastal scenery and hills in all weather conditions that Scotland has to offer.’

The film can be watched on Bikepacking Scotland’s YouTube channel at and Facebook site at

The Wild About Argyll Trail starts and finishes in Helensburgh with direct train connections to Glasgow and Edinburgh Waverley. Helensburgh is also the start (or finish) of the Argyll Sea Kayak Trail and the John Muir Way. It is home to Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s masterpiece The Hill House and Scotland’s first Submarine Museum due to open in 2018.

More information about the route and the GPX file can be found at


Notes to Editors

Direct link to video:

Still images from the film can be download and used for free here:

More pictures from the route can be found here (credit: Markus Stitz):

For additional information, pictures etc. please contact or +44 789 5250508.

‘Wild About Argyll’ Camera, narration and edit: Markus Stitz Music: Chris Zabriskie and Kevin MacLeod

Key Stats for ‘Wild About Argyll Trail’
Total ascent: 13,827 m (45,364 feet)
Length: 655 km (407 miles)
Max elevation: 450 m (1,476 feet)
Min elevation: 0 m (0 feet)

Best time to visit
The Wild About Argyll Trail can be ridden all year round. The best time to visit is from April to October. Some sections can be muddy or boggy in wet weather conditions.
The dramatic landscape of the Ardgartan Peninsula
Loch Eck and Puck’s Glen
The rugged landscapes and steep coastal roads in East Kintyre
The views from the highest point at Allt Dearg Community Wind Farm and the descent to Achahoish
The Isle of Lismore, just north of Oban
Glen Nant National Nature Reserve, forest roads around Loch Awe and Avich Falls

Important links

Scottish Outdoor Access Code
Scotland’s outdoors provides great opportunities for open-air recreation and education, with great benefits for people’s enjoyment, and their health and well-being. The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 ensures everyone has statutory access rights to most of Scotland’s outdoors, if these rights are exercised responsibly, with respect for people’s privacy, safety and livelihoods, and for Scotland’s environment. Equally, land managers have to manage their land and water responsibly in relation to access rights. The Code is based on three key principles:
Respect the interests of other people.
Care for the environment.
Take responsibility for your own actions.

For more information visit
 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,, 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 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 or email or to get more details on the Wild About Argyll campaign visit Details about the City Nation Place Awards can be found at
 #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
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 or email And to find out more about the Wild About Argyll campaign featuring world record breaking ultra athlete Mark Beaumont, visit
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 or to follow the Wild About Argyll campaign visit - you can also contact AITC at
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
 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 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 or email
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.

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 - 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

“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 - 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 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
 Duchess of Argyll joins the board of Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative
Added: 20 Dec 2016
One of Argyll’s most influential figures has accepted an invitation to join the board of Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC).

Eleanor, Duchess of Argyll will join the tourism body in the role of Honorary Chairperson, adding her support to the collective goal of marketing and raising awareness of Argyll and the Isles as a great place to live, work, play and visit.

Eleanor, who lives in Inveraray Castle, the ancestral seat of Clan Campbell, with the 13th Duke her husband Torquil and their three children, said she was delighted to be asked to be AITC’s ceremonial head.

“Thank you very much for such a huge honour”, she said.

“I’d be delighted to accept – but more importantly to be part of such a great and dynamic group that drives such an amazing area forward.”

As well as running Inveraray Castle as a tourist destination, which attracts thousands of visitors, from across the world every year, the Duchess also hosts the Best of the West Festival, in the grounds of the Castle one weekend every September.

AITC Chair Gavin Dick welcomed the Duchess to the AITC board saying: “I am absolutely thrilled Eleanor has accepted our invitation. AITC is almost five years old, and in this period we have made a significant impact in a number of areas, from attending VisitScotland EXPO, where we have been present every year since 2012, to our newest ventures with Wild About Argyll.

“We also have two major skills programmes underway looking at World Host customer care and digital tourism, aimed at equipping our tourism businesses with the digital tools they need in this digitally connected world.

“AITC is entering a new chapter and we are extremely fortunate to able to take this key step forward with someone who understands the importance of our work, is passionate about Argyll and the Isles and who has the vision and credibility to speak on behalf of the organisation.”
Argyll talent rewarded at Scottish Outdoor and Leisure AwardsArgyll talent rewarded at Scottish Outdoor and Leisure Awards
Added: 29 Nov 2016
It was another night of celebration in Argyll and the Isles as three tourism businesses scooped four awards at the first annual Scottish Outdoor and Leisure Awards (SOLA) held in the Marriott Hotel, Glasgow on Sunday night (27 November).

Outdoor adventure pursuits company Quadmania, took the award for Best Outdoor Adventure Experience back to Cowal, Argyll Holidays’ Drimsynie Estate picked up the Best Family Holiday Park accolade, while Portavadie returned home with two awards – Best Self Catering Accommodation and Best Marina.

Gavin Dick Chair of Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) congratulated the winners saying: “This was another great night for tourism in Argyll and comes hot on the heels of the region’s success in the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards, and more success for Argyll Holidays Ross Coutts and NVA’s Hinterland event in last week’s West Region’s Thistle Awards.

“SOLA covers the whole of Scotland, and our local businesses were up against some very stiff competition. We know Argyll and the Isles has one of the best outdoor adventure playgrounds anywhere in the country, and to see it rewarded with these new awards specifically aimed at outdoors pursuits is hugely encouraging.

“We are already looking forward to SOLA 2017 and would urge even more of our outdoor events, adventure experience and accommodation providers to get involved.”

To find out more about SOLA visit For more information on AITC visit or email ENDS
MotoScotland At National Road Safety SeminarMotoScotland At National Road Safety Seminar
Added: 14 Nov 2016
Pic: Clive Rumbold, MotoScotland company director and chief instructor.

In July 2016 MotoScotland, Britain’s largest off road training centre (based in Inveraray) after two years of background work, managed to secure off road motorbike training recognition by the Government (Department for Transport and Driver Vehicle Standards Agency).

This lead to an invitation in September 2016 by the Director of Road Safety Scotland for them to give a presentation at the annual Road Safety Scotland National Seminar on the benefits that off road motorbike training can bring to road safety. 

To a packed room of around 150 key delegates, responsible for improving road safety, MotoScotland focussed on just 3 of over 20 unique rider skills it teaches that can improve rider control and safety.

The government are striving to reduce the number of annual road deaths to zero by 2020.
In 2015, 168 people died on Scottish roads alone!

Off road motorbike training allows riders to learn riding skills that can help riders control their bike in challenging situations and environments. Riders, uniquely, can learn in a safe and controlled setting without the risks of other vehicles or users being present.

With no test or exam to deter riders who may have already had numerous tests just to pass their license, riders can benefit from smaller ratios of rider to instructor.

This allows riders to achieve learning at a pace and style to meet their individual needs. In this type of training, riders are taught how to ride a bike competently and in full control as oppose to how to pass a test.

The road safety delegates also learned about the fact that this type of training/riding is one of the most fun, enjoyable and fulfilling types of advanced rider courses and how this could attract even more riders to take advanced rider training and become safer as a result. 

MotoScotland is interested in helping achieve the government’s zero road deaths target by 2020 and believes this type of training will help make a difference.
 Tourism talent rewarded at Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards
Added: 08 Nov 2016
Tourism businesses from across Argyll and the Isles topped off a bumper tourism season by scooping five awards at the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards (HITA) held in Inverness on Friday (4 November).

Finalists from across the region gathered to hear the results of categories ranging from Best Accommodation Provider to Tourism and Hospitality Hero. Among the finalists was Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC), nominated in the Working Together for Tourism category.

Following the awards AITC Chair Gavin Dick congratulated all the winners saying: “I am delighted to see these awards going to their new homes in Argyll and the Isles. The quality of the offering in our region is second to none, and I’m delighted to see the judges agree.

“We have so much to offer our visitors, from fabulous food and drink, to festivals, attractions and unique experiences. Just two hours from Glasgow will take you into the heart of Argyll, it’s a journey worth making and we encourage as many people as possible to come and explore.

“We were over the moon to be shortlisted and you can be sure we will continue to work with our local destination marketing organisations to ensure that Argyll and the Isles is the destination of choice for holidays, short breaks and day trips.”

Argyll and the Isles businesses and events receiving awards were:
• Best Accommodation Provider: The Majestic Line. The Majestic Line’s three mini cruise ships offer cruises on Scotland’s west coast.
• Best Cultural Event or Festival: Oban Winter Festival. Now in its sixth year, Oban Winter Festival is a family friendly 10 day celebration of the start of the coldest season.
• Friendliest Pub / Bar: Macgochans, Isle of Mull. This friendly pub offers top live music, local food and great craic!
• Innovation in Tourism: Mull Eagle Watch. This project offers guided visits to view white-tailed eagles. It is a unique protection and public viewing partnership between Forestry Commission Scotland, RSPB, Mull and Iona Community Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage and Police Scotland.
• Best Restaurant Experience: Inver, Strathlachlan. This small restaurant has won a slew of awards. Chefs blend current cooking techniques with the very best local wild and farmed ingredients to offer a contemporary take on traditional and forgotten Scottish dishes.

All the award winners from the evening go forward to represent the Highlands and Islands region at the national finals of the Scottish Thistle Awards in March 2017.

To find out more about the work of Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative visit or email
 Submarine arrives in Centre of Scottish Town.
Added: 11 Oct 2016
Today X51 ’Stickleback’ a midget Submarine built in 1954, was delivered to it’s new home in Helensburgh where it will be the centrepiece for the West Coast of Scotland’s newest attraction, the Scottish Submarine Centre.

The Centre, which is the brainchild of social entrepreneur Brian Keating supported by the local association of Submariners will present the history of the submarine service, display the UK’s first digital memorial and use state of the art technologies to deliver immersive film and digital VR presentations about the many historic milestones in the development of submarines. The Centre which sits adjacent to Helensburgh’s new cultural and social hub ’The Tower Digital Arts Centre’ who will support development for the Virtual Reality films, digital animations and digital interactives which will be presented in 4k when the centre opens. The Tower hosts an authorised Apple training centre, a film and tv school and organises coding classes, and digital programmes for the community as well as providing the towns two cinema’s screens.

The Scottish Submarine Centre is expected to attract visitors from across the UK and is the first purpose built visitor attraction in Helensburgh since Henry Bell launched the PS Comet Paddle-steamer in the town in 1812. The centre was built in 1831 as a church and was covered to a community hall in 1861, and has since hosted many events and speakers (ie: WH Auden and Cecil Day Lewis) including Oscar Wilde who spoke there in 1888. Bob Seaward the President of The Submariners Association for Scotland said “Given Helensburgh is soon to be the home of the UK’s entire submarine fleet, this initiative couldn’t come at a better time, I’m sure it will be much visited and has universal support locally”. Argyll and Bute’s Councillor Aileen Morton added “Supporting new attractions to enhance the viability of our town centres is a critical part of economic development in Argyll and the new Submarine centre’s location, in the town centre should have a very positive effect on Helensburgh".

Scottish Submarine Trust (Scottish Charity: SCO45355) was founded to develop the Scottish Submarine Centre as an education and entertainment centre in heart of Helensburgh town centre. With a steering committee gathered from Submariners association, Local council, community council, Royal Navy, Tower Digital Arts Centre and VisitHelensburgh the centre aims to present the history of the submarine service, honour those paid the ultimate price in service and provide education on how submarines have evolved.
 Barometer spells great summer for Argyll’s tourist attractions
Added: 10 Oct 2016
Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) has welcomed the news that tourist attractions across the Argyll and the Isles region have seen a substantial increase in tourism footfall during July and August, compared with the national average, according to figures released recently.

The figures, issued by the Moffat Centre in Glasgow, are the results of the contributions from 592 tourist attractions across Scotland. They show that in July Scotland’s visitor attractions had an increase of 6.6%, while in Argyll and Bute this was a whopping 12.8% rise.

In August the Scottish increase was 3.4%, compared with the rise in Argyll and Bute, which at 8.9%, was more than twice the national average.

AITC Director Calum Ross said: “This is extremely encouraging news for tourism businesses in the Argyll and the Isles region. These statistics are another endorsement of the continuing strength of the industry, and the product, which we have to offer. The figures for our attractions come hot on the heels of last week’s announcement of the finalists in the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards, where Argyll and the Isles businesses took more than 30% of the shortlisted places.

“As an industry we work extremely hard at making sure our visitors have the best possible experience when they visit Argyll and the Isles, and receiving this confirmation is a fantastic indicator that we are on the right track. The Moffat Centre has worked with VisitScotland since 1999 to produce the performance indicators for Scotland’s tourist attractions. These figures will go on to inform local and national government on tourism policy and their importance cannot be over estimated.”

Jane Young, Manager of Inveraray Castle said: “We are absolutely delighted with the number of visitors choosing to visit Inveraray Castle this season which are a large increase on last year’s figures. It is very encouraging to see that the tourists have come from far and wide, a large majority from overseas as well as from the domestic market. We have also seen a steady rise in the cruise ship market over recent years, which not only has a beneficial effect on the local economy but the wider community as well. It certainly goes to prove what a fabulous product Argyll & Bute has to offer.”
Argyll heads the tourism awards shortlistArgyll heads the tourism awards shortlist
Added: 04 Oct 2016
Argyll and the Isles will be centre stage at the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards 2016. Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) will join 15 other tourism businesses to represent the region as finalists in categories ranging from accommodation to events and tourism innovation to tourism and hospitality hero.

AITC has been nominated in the ‘Working Together for Tourism’ category for its collaborative working including last year’s Taste for Tourism conference in Oban, the many itineraries they have created for travel writers visiting the region and the ground-breaking ‘Wild About Argyll’ adventure and film project.

The Taste for Tourism conference in Oban in 2015 brought prestigious food journalists and international speakers together with tourism operators and food producers from across Scotland, to Argyll for a two day conference to discuss ’has Scotland got what it takes to be a global food tourism destination?’

AITC’s work in producing itineraries for travel writers has ensured Argyll and the Isles and its many unique experiences have received prominence in publications both in Scotland and the UK, as well as worldwide. And the Wild About Argyll film and adventure project saw ultra endurance athlete Mark Beaumont take part in a unique adventure over 12 days across the entire region and engaging with over 115 tourism enterprises to showcase the fantastic opportunities Argyll and the Isles has to offer.

With partnership working as its cornerstone, AITC illustrates the kind of collaboration and joint working which the prestigious Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards couldn’t ignore.

The news that ATIC has been shortlisted for an award was welcomed by AITC chair Gavin Dick.

“I am absolutely delighted that our hard work has been recognised by the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards judges. AITC is passionate about promoting tourism in Argyll and the Isles and has collaboration at the heart of all that we do.

“But today’s announcement is not only about AITC, it’s about tourism in Argyll and the Isles, and I’m thrilled to see the region punching above its weight with regard to the numbers of businesses and projects which have been shortlisted. With over 30% of the finalists coming from Argyll and the Isles, the greatest number from one region, this is a ringing endorsement that our tourism industry is increasingly in great shape.

“I’d like to wish all the businesses who have been shortlisted, the very best of luck and we look forward to seeing them in Inverness in November.”

The Argyll and the Isles shortlisted businesses and events include: The Majestic Line, Dunoon in the Best Accommodation Provider category; Cowal Highland Gathering and Oban Winter Festival in the Best Culture Event of Festival category; Tralee Bay Fish and Chips, Oban in the Best Informal Eating Experience; Inver Restaurant in the Best Restaurant Experience category; MacGochans, Mull and The Barn Bar, Oban in the Friendlies Pub / Bar; Gillian Ross of MacGochans, Jamie Duncan of Argyll Cruising, Dunoon and John McNulty of Taynuilt Hotel in the Highland Rising Star category; Mull Eagle Watch and Isle of Mull Cottages in the Innovation in Tourism Award; Glenegedale House Islay in the Most Hospitable B&B or Guest House category; The Pierhouse Hotel, Port Appin in the Most Hospitable Hotel category; Emma Clark of Glenegedale House, Islay in the Tourism and Hospitality Hero category and AITC in the Working Together for Tourism Category.
 AITC statement on further investment in A83
Added: 27 Jan 2016
Gavin Dick, Chair of Argyll and the Isles Tourism Cooperative (AITC) welcomed the news of a further £6.6M investment in the A83, which includes just over £4M for additional landslide mitigation on the Rest and Be Thankful.

However he called for urgency in finding a permanent solution to the issue saying, “While we welcome this further investment from Transport Scotland we urge all parties involved to continue to work together to find a permanent solution for the Rest and Be Thankful. We understand the comments from the Transport Minister and agree that the unusually wet conditions over this winter have led to additional problems for the teams on the ground. Nevertheless, we are now only six weeks away from Easter, traditionally the start of the busy tourist season in Argyll and the Isles, and we seek assurances that everything is being done to reach a final solution, which will keep traffic flowing through the main road artery into our region, and safeguard the communities and businesses which rely on tourism.”
 Enhanced landslide mitigation for A83 - Further investment outlined
Added: 25 Jan 2016
A further £6.6 million investment in the A83, including just over £4 million for landslide mitigation measures at the Rest and Be Thankful, has been announced by the Transport Minister, Derek Mackay at the A83 Task Force meeting in Arrochar today (January 25, 2016).

This commitment from Transport Scotland is in addition to the £3 million pounds already committed to the on-going programme for 2015/2016. Bringing the total investment in landslide mitigation at the Rest and Be Thankful to £13.5 million.

The work programme includes widening the Old Military Road to add resilience to the local diversion route, further enhancements to the debris netting which has prevented 2,300 tonnes of debris reaching the road since its introduction and improvements at various points along the route.

Transport Minister, Derek Mackay said:

“More than £50 million has been invested in the A83 since 2007 underlining the Scottish Government’s commitment to keeping Argyll and Bute open for business.

“The most recent landslides have shown that the mitigation measures introduced, including netting, catchpits and culverts, are doing their job with thousands of tonnes of debris being caught on various occasions.

“The elements have thrown some horrendous conditions our way, especially at the end of last year with the wettest December on record. We are already learning lessons from the events that occurred as a result of the exceptional rainfall and the additional investment being outlined today will help strengthen our response further.

“We are listening to the concerns of the local community and taking action to further enhance the Old Military Road. We will continue to work with all interested parties as we move forward with the on-going improvements on the A83.”
GCMB partners with Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) to drive visitor growthGCMB partners with Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) to drive visitor growth
Added: 19 Jan 2016
Improving connections between Glasgow and the west coast has been identified as a key lever for growing both the city’s and Argyll and the Isles’ tourism economies.

Board members from Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) travelled to Scotland’s largest city today (Friday, January 15) to meet with representatives from Glasgow City Marketing Bureau (GCMB) and ScotRail.

As custodians of the PEOPLE MAKE GLASGOW brand, GCMB’s role is to position Glasgow across national and international markets as one of the world’s most vibrant, dynamic and diverse cities in which to live, work, study, invest and visit.

Having recently completed the highly-regarded Destination Leaders Executive Certificate course at Napier University, the AITC management team used the opportunity to discuss how both organisations can develop stronger strategic links aimed at encouraging tourists to Glasgow to also consider visiting the west coast.

AITC’s Chair Gavin Dick said: “Glasgow City Marketing Bureau employs some of the most talented marketing people in the country. After meeting the team behind ‘People Make Glasgow’, it’s impossible not to come away from an afternoon with them feeling totally inspired. Having an insight into their approach to destination marketing and tourism development, as well as giving them an overview of the plans AITC has for the coming months has given us a lot to take forward and I’d like to thank them for their time.”

Tom Rice, GCMB’s Head of Marketing Communications, said: “GCMB’s role is to create customers and having been named by travel industry bible National Geographic Traveler as one of the 20 best destinations in the world for 2016 we know that global awareness of the city is strong. Our focus now is to continue to capitalise on that awareness through the PEOPLE MAKE GLASGOW brand and sharing strategies with AITC has highlighted ways that we can work together to drive increased visitor volume from our target markets.”

With rail travel into Argyll proving increasingly popular among tourists, the AITC board also met with ScotRail where discussions focussed on how to inspire more visitors to travel to the west coast by train as well as ways to increase awareness of local attractions along the route.

As part of the visit, the team had the chance to go behind the scenes and find out what happens underneath the platforms of Glasgow’s Central Station, which is the largest rail station in Scotland and the ninth-busiest in the UK handling more than 33 million passengers every year. The tour was organised by ScotRail’s Commercial Director, Cathy Craig, who is also an AITC director. Gavin continued:

“Today’s visit is a valuable insight into how we can work better with major partners like ScotRail to create new links with the Argyll and Isles region. It’s only by finding out how they operate that we can begin to put together practical and realistic plans for the future.

“AITC has been on a journey over the last three years and standing still is not an option for us. I’d like to thank Cathy for taking the time to organise this trip, it’s been absolutely fascinating and I for one will never look at a train station or a rail track in the same way again.”

Cathy added: “It’s so important that we continue our collaborative working to bring visitors to our destinations. Creating a link between city breaks and Argyll is an obvious next step for development. Transport remains vital in connecting visitors to Scotland’s destinations and ScotRail are actively supporting the industry in this aim.”

 CalMac makes ferry tale come true for three-year-old super-fan from Ardrishaig, Argyll
Added: 05 Jan 2016
A Caledonian MacBrayne ferry and its crew has made a difficult ferry tale come true for a three-year-old fan from Ardrishaig in Argyll.

For young Blair Houston surprised and stumped Santa back in December with his Christmas pressie selection. Right there at the top of his list was the Portavadie ferry – not a picture, not a model, but the actual boat itself.

Even Santa couldn’t pull off this particular treat, but he knew the people who could – so he put in a call to Caledonian MacBrayne, which was only too happy to help. The weather had different thoughts, though, so three-year-old Blair’s Santa treat had to wait until Storm Frank, as well as New Year had come and gone.

“It’s not often we get a call from Santa,” said Lawrence Allibone, skipper of MV Lochinvar – the ferry at the heart of this tricky wish, which serves the Portavadie to Tarbert Loch Fyne route.

“In fact, I have to say we were pretty taken aback. We did explain that we couldn’t just hand over the ferry as it would make lots of other people very sad, but we absolutely couldn’t disappoint our young fan either. “We decided that we’d love to have Blair on board with us on the bridge, helping us to sail his favourite ferry.”

The Ardrishaig lad, along with mum Ann Marie, dad Craig and sister Lexie, was invited on board the boat at Tarbert for a special round trip to Portavadie, where the staff at the brand new spa complex also helped to make the day extra special by giving the family use of its lovely pool and some delicious pizza and ice-cream, before everyone got back on board – excited and tired by a great day.

“As an honorary captain of MV Lochinvar for the day, wee Blair absolutely found his sea legs – he even brought his own captain’s cap with him,” continued Lawrence.

“He has sailed the route so often he was able to give us plenty of tips and keep us on course. He was absolutely fantastic and really helped me out.

“He’ll make a fine captain one day; maybe Santa will have a spare ferry for him by then!”

The family was thrilled with the adventure and mum Ann Marie said: “This has been such a total surprise for Blair – he is absolutely mad about CalMac and all the ferries and he’s chuffed to bits! We honestly didn’t know what Santa was going to do when Blair announced he wanted the Portavadie ferry for Christmas – we thought maybe he might find a model.

“I’m from Tarbert and we often watch the ferries coming and going when we’re visiting family – the Portavadie ferry is Blair’s favourite and he’s become quite an expert.

“This has been much better than anything we could have hoped for – I’m sure he will be talking about it for a very long time. We just have to thank CalMac, Lawrence and all the crew on MV Lochinvar for making this dream come true – and Portavadie for such a fantastic fun and tasty treat.”
Added: 17 Dec 2015
The whole team here at HWDT are busy putting together a brand new exhibition in our Visitor Centre on Main Street in Tobermory. The current shop will close today (11 Dec) to allow for the works to be carried out over the next 3 months. When we open the doors again in March 2016 it will be for the grand opening of the new Centre!

We are working with design company MacDonald Orr Design, artist Chris Mitchell and local printers KFT to produce informative and beautiful interpretive installations to promote the special diversity of whales, dolphins and porpoises present in the Scottish Hebrides.

One of the installations to be produced is a large wall mural of the most commonly seen Scottish whales and dolphins, which will be the first thing people will see as they step in through the door. The picture here of the first sketch gives you a sneaky preview of what this mural will look like... if this is just a sketch we are already very excited to see the final result.

Other installations that visitors can expect include: a large touchscreen on which visitors can explore cetacean sightings collected by the Trust; a large map of the Hebrides showing oceanographic features which affect animal distribution; and a timeline which tells the exciting history of whaling, whale watching and the Trust. The Underwater Explorer Room will be dedicated to our younger visitors; where children can listen to sounds of whales, dolphins and underwater noise on the interactive audio panel or play with a large jigsaw of a porpoise which gives fun facts about the anatomy of cetaceans. Exciting bones and teeth of all the most commonly seen species will also be on display, including a full skeleton of a Cuvier’s beaked whale and a minke whale jaw bone. Come and check if you can fit into a minke whales mouth!

We will post regular updates of our progress in the Centre so make sure you like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter (@hwdt_org) to get updates on the development, the opening and upcoming events.

This project is made possible through the generous support of Coastal Communities Fund and WWF.
 It’s Destination Oban for sleeper during February 2016
Added: 10 Dec 2015
News that passengers on the west coast’s Caledonian Sleeper will enjoy an Oban welcome during three weekends of February 2016, instead of Fort William, due to planned maintenance work, has been welcomed by Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC).

The Caledonian Sleeper, has run between London and Scotland for 140 years and claims ‘some of the UK’s best destinations are connected by the Caledonian Sleeper’.

Oban, known widely as the Seafood Capital of Scotland, has been chosen by Serco, the operators of the service, as part of their long term route planning, with the aim of gathering traveller feedback about the west coast town. Managing Director of the Caledonian Sleeper Paul Strachan said: “We have chosen to stop at Oban rather than provide bus travel from Tulloch because we would like to receive feedback on this route from guests and local businesses to inform our long-term planning.

’Oban is a popular destination for tourists as well as being known as the gateway to the isles, with a ferry service to many islands, including Mull, Lismore and Kerrera.

“As we continue to progress our plans for the Caledonian Sleeper service over the next 15 years we are keen to explore the possibility of extending our route.’

AITC’s Chair Gavin Dick welcomed the news saying, “This is great news for the town. Oban is a year round tourist destination and I am delighted to see the town being recognied as possibly being included on a Caledonian Sleeper route in the future.

“Oban and Lorn are amongst the most beautiful areas in Scotland, with some of the country’s best known islands including Mull, Iona and other island jewels within easy reach. As well as being treated to stunning scenery, I am sure travellers on the service will enjoy a west coast welcome in one of Argyll’s best loved towns.”

The service will arrive in Oban on the weekends of 12 – 14, 19 – 21 and 26 – 28 February 2016 from where they will be bussed to Fort William, which is the last stop for the train on the West Highland Line.

For more about AITC visit or email
 AITC welcomes Campbeltown – Ardrossan ferry announcement
Added: 08 Dec 2015
Chair of Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) Gavin Dick has welcomed the news that the ferry link between Campbeltown and Ardrossan will be made a permanent feature of the Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) timetable from summer 2016.

The announcement, which was made by Transport Scotland today (Tuesday 8 December), follows a three-year pilot service.

Offering enhanced links from the Kintyre peninsula to central Scotland, the service will also offer great opportunities for local businesses to grow and flourish.

Commenting on the news Gavin said: “This is a very exciting time to be in tourism in Scotland and I’m delighted to see this service become a permanent route on CalMac’s summer timetable. This service will give tourists another way to visit one of our most beautiful peninsulas, and opens up Kintyre, and the west coast islands by offering visitors an alternative to driving, or as part of a wider circular tour of the country.

“Famous for whisky, golf and the many festivals and events which take place over the year, confirmation of this service will give Kintyre businesses renewed confidence as they head into 2016. I’m absolutely delighted at the outcome of the pilot and look forward to welcoming more visitors to Kintyre next summer.”
 AITC welcomes VisitScotland board appointment
Added: 03 Dec 2015
Gavin Dick Chair of Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) has congratulated fellow AITC director Cathy Craig on her appointment to the board of VisitScotland.

Cathy, who joined the board of AITC earlier this year, was announced as one of five new VisitScotland board members by Minister for Business Energy and Tourism Fergus Ewing MSP yesterday (Tuesday 1 December).

She is an experienced manager who has worked across a number of disciplines and industries. She has expertise in sales, marketing, business development and change management and has been involved in tourism development for the last three years. Cathy also has a track record of improving visitor numbers and developing visitor experience.

She has particular expertise in transport provision within Scotland and its role in developing visitor numbers and experience. Cathy joins AITC Vice Chair and VisitScotland board member, Calum Ross on the VisitScotland board and together they give a strong regional voice to Scotland’s national tourism organisation.

Gavin said, “This is great news, not just for VisitScotland, but for tourism in Argyll and the Isles. Cathy is a valuable member of the AITC team, and I’m delighted her skills have been recognised at a national level.

“Together with Calum, Argyll and the Isles has a very strong voice within VisitScotland. Both Calum and Cathy are professionals who are passionate about tourism, and I believe this appointment is a positive step towards ensuring the tourism industry in Scotland continues to grow and flourish.”
Get Wild About Argyll reaches finalsGet Wild About Argyll reaches finals
Added: 20 Nov 2015
Chair of Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative Gavin Dick has today congratulated the Get Wild About Argyll team who represented the region, as finalists in the Nature Tourism category, at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Nature of Scotland Awards last night (Thursday 19 November).

This was the first year Get Wild About Argyll has entered the Nature of Scotland Awards and despite not winning on the night, Gavin was delighted to see the team get so far.

He said: “I’d like to thank everyone who worked so hard on Get Wild About Argyll. To see you reach the final stages, on the first attempt shows what an innovative project it is.”

Get Wild About Argyll is a mentoring scheme, aimed at helping businesses make the most of the wild and wonderful area where they operate. Earlier this year workshops were held in Oban & Lorn and Mid Argyll, detailing how to maximize wildlife and adventure tourism opportunities.

However, unlike many other programmes, every participating business went on to receive a two-hour appointment at its own premises with an AITC agent, which provided further advice and tailored ideas for the future.

This was followed up several weeks later, with final visits scheduled for the end of the 2015 season.

Gavin continued: “Wildlife and adventure tourism are rapidly growing sectors and we are fortunate to live in an area with an abundance of breathtaking scenery and wildlife. However, having the perfect platform for outdoor activities is not enough, which is why we designed a project which would give practical guidance to local businesses and help them tap into the wildlife and adventure tourism market.

“Giving businesses the tools, knowledge and confidence to be proactive, and tell visitors about the unique outdoor experiences on offer on their doorstep, helps ensure visitors to Argyll and the Isles have a truly memorable stay. This coupled with helping businesses understand the importance of conservation and responsible tourism helps to ensure we all protect our very special landscape and wildlife.”

Get Wild About Argyll is part of the ‘Nature’s Paradise’ scheme, which is generously supported by Forestry Commission Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage.

To find out more about AITC and its work can visit its website at or email
 Argyll and the Isles shine at Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards
Added: 16 Nov 2015
Gavin Dick the Chair of Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) has congratulated the seven local tourism businesses, which each beat stiff competition to win awards at the 2015 Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards (HITA) held in Inverness on Friday (13 November).

The Highlands and Islands area includes, not only Argyll and the Isles, but Lochaber, Skye, Wester Ross, the Outer Hebrides, Caithness, Sutherland and Moray as well as Orkney and Shetland, and almost half of the sixteen awards on offer are now heading to their new homes in the Argyll and the Isles region.

Argyll and the Isles businesses and events winning their category were:

• Best Cultural Event – Tiree Music Festival
• Best Sporting Event – Tiree Wave Classic
• Best Holiday Accommodation – Torrisdale Castle Estate, Kintyre
• Best Restaurant Experience – Ninth Wave Restaurant, Isle of Mull
• Most Hosptiable B&B / Guest House – Ardtorna Bed and Breakfast, Oban
• HITA Hospitality Hero – Emma Clark, Glenegadale House, Isle of Islay
• HITA Ambassador of the Year – Calum Ross, Loch Melfort Hotel, Oban

AITC Chair Gavin Dick congratulated all the winners saying: “We know the product we have in Argyll and the Isles is world class. To see so many businesses, events and individuals from this region receive this recognition in 2015 is testament to the hard work and passion they devote to making their own business and this area so special. I’m absolutely thrilled for each of the businesses receiving awards. I wish them well when they go on to represent the region at the national finals of the Scottish Thistle Awards in March 2016. I would also like to congratulate the four other Argyll and the Isles based finalists, who didn’t win on the night, but made it through to the final stage.”

The final award of the evening went to one of Argyll and the isles Tourism Co-operative’s (AITC) founding directors, Calum Ross of Loch Melfort Hotel who was chosen as HITA’s 2015 Ambassador of the Year.

Congratulating Calum, AITC Chair Gavin Dick said: “I am absolutely delighted that the work Calum does for the tourism industry in Scotland has been recognised in this way. The HITA board described Calum as having ‘a quiet and unassuming manner but with a strong sense of leadership and great integrity’ and I would wholeheartedly agree.

“As well as running his business, alongside wife Rachel, Calum is the Chairman of the British Hospitality Association Scotland, and a director both with VisitScotland and the Scottish Tourism Alliance. He is also involved at local and regional level with Oban and Lorn Tourism Alliance, and, of course with AITC. To say Calum works tirelessly in the tourism industry is no exaggeration and this is a richly deserved award.”

Calum said: “I was both surprised and delighted to be given this award. Tourism is a hugely significant sector in Scotland and I feel privileged to work with so many great people and contribute to our industry’s growth. What a fantastic night for Argyll and a testament to the incredible power of collaboration.”

Another AITC director, Niall Macalister Hall who owns and runs Torrisdale Castle Estate in Kintyre with his wife Emma, received the award for Best Holiday Accommodation.

Niall said: “We were delighted and surprised to win the award, given the quality of the competition and the other two finalists. Everyone involved with the business has put in a huge amount of work and effort over the last few years and it is really nice to be rewarded.”

To find out more about the work of AITC visit
Added: 14 Nov 2015
A small island music festival almost wrecked by storms this summer has blown away the opposition to win a major tourism award.

During this year’s Tiree Music Festival more than 1,000 people had to be evacuated from the site because of strong winds. A huge response from the community and local businesses helped find shelter for festival-goers in schools, the island airport and people’s homes so the event was able to continue.

The festival, which attracted a sell-out 1,700 audience – more than three times the island population – has been voted Best Cultural Event or Festival at the prestigious annual Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards.

And in a double success for the island, the Tiree Wave Classic windsurfing event also won HITA’s new Best Sporting Event category,

The awards were presented last night (13 November) by Fergus Ewing, Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism, at a glittering ceremony in the Drumossie Hotel in Inverness.

In all,15 tourism businesses and individuals were crowned winners at the event which was hosted by celebrity chef Tony Singh.

Mr Ewing said: The Highlands and Islands boast some of Scotland’s most beautiful scenery and exciting events and these awards recognise the wealth of experience, the commitment and excellence of tourism operators in the region.

I commend the hard work and commitment of everyone who extends a warm welcome and high standard of service to Scotland’s visitors.

While Tiree in particular can celebrate a deserved double win, I congratulate all of this year’s winners and send best wishes for a long, enjoyable and worthwhile career in tourism and hospitality.

Tiree is just 12 miles long and three miles wide with a population of about 650. Its two major events have become significant economic drivers and attract thousands of visitors to the island.

The Tiree Music Festival, which started in 2010, has grown steadily over the years and is known as one of the most family-friendly in the UK. This year tickets sold out within five hours of going on sale with a line-up that included The Fratellis, We Banjo 3, Skerryvore and Manran.

The event was put in doubt when strong winds meant the entire festival campsite had to be evacuated after revellers’ tents were blown away. But organisers ensured the show went on after campers were given alternative accommodation and conditions improved the following day.

The HITA judges said of the festival: The tiny, seemingly inaccessible Isle of Tiree has overcome local constraints to build its annual music festival into an incredible, cultural event which brings economic benefits to the community, highlights traditional and contemporary music and makes imaginative use of sponsorship.

It is a worthy winner that has enhanced the overall visitor experience. This year the festival faced unprecedented weather conditions which could have forced it to be abandoned. However, a truly remarkable effort by the organisers and the island community ensured it not just recovered but flourished in the following days.

Tiree Wave Classic is the longest running professional windsurfing event in the world. Founded in 1986, it showcases the best of the UK’s windsurfing talent, ranging from juniors to World Cup professional windsurfers.

Calum Ross, proprietor of the Loch Melfort Hotel, Oban, and Chairman of the British Hospitality Association Scotland, was chosen as HITA’s 2015 Ambassador of the Year.

Calum was described by the HITA board as someone with a quiet and unassuming manner but with a strong sense of leadership and great integrity.

Young Ambassador of the Year is Kyle Beattie, a trainee instructor with outdoor activity business Boots N Paddles, based in Kirkhill, near Inverness.

HITA judges voted Torrisdale Castle Estate in Kintyre as Best Holiday Accommodation. The self-catering properties on Kintyre’s east coast provide accommodation for groups of between two and 10 people. The estate is also used as a spectacular wedding venue.

The award for Best Informal Eating Experience went to the popular Mountain Café in Aviemore, and the Best Outdoor/Adventure Experience title was taken by Portree-based Skye Adventure which offers guided walking and climbing trips.

The Ninth Wave Restaurant in Mull was voted Best Restaurant Experience. Opened in 2009, the restaurant lies on a traditional croft and uses local produce including seafood, meat, cheese and herbs.

The Best Visitor Attraction title was won by the Aberlour Distillery, in Speyside, which offers a choice of three bespoke tours and tastings, and Friendliest Pub/Bar went to the Applecross Inn, in Wester Ross.

The five-star Ardtorna bed and breakfast in Oban was named Most Hospitable B&B /Guest House and the family-run Kylesku Hotel in Sutherland was chosen as Most Hospitable Hotel.

A new Innovation Award went to the North Highland Initiative. The initiative was established in 2005 as a result of Prince Charles’ involvement in bringing together the farming community, local businesses and the tourism industry in a management and marketing partnership to address challenges facing rural communities in the far north of Scotland.

The key tourism project which NHI is currently working on is The North Coast 500, a northern coastal road route, designed to attract visitors to the Northern Highlands.

This year’s HITA Hospitality Hero is Emma Clark from Glenegedale House in Islay. Emma and her husband Graeme took over the hotel from her parents in 2013 and have since won a number of awards.

The Tourism Everyone’s Business category has been won by Inverness-based WOW Scotland Tours which specialises in providing fully customised private tours from Inverness and Invergordon.

The HITA winners will now go on to represent the region at the national final of the Scottish Thistle Awards next year.

Some 190 businesses and individuals entered or were nominated for this year’s HITA awards and 44 were named on the shortlist last month.

Marina Huggett, Chair of HITA, said: Well done to all this year’s winners who are all outstanding in their categories.

The record number of entries and nominations we received this year and the exceptionally high standards throughout the contest made it extremely difficult for the judges to pick winners.

Those who came out on top are deserving champions, but all those who entered or were nominated are worthy ambassadors of the Highlands and Islands and this key industry.

We know from speaking to individuals that the HITA awards help raise standards and encourage businesses to push the boundaries of quality, which can only be good for our visitors and the area. Scott Armstrong,

VisitScotland Regional Partnerships Manager, said: I would like to congratulate this year’s winners on their respective awards. Tourism businesses in the Highlands and Islands have once again made their mark, with a number of outstanding finalists spread right across these regions.

The awards send a strong message that the tourism industry in the Highlands and Islands is diverse, high-quality and in good health. I’m thrilled at the successes of so many excellent businesses and individuals, and I’m already crossing my fingers they’ll deliver more Highlands and Islands glory at the Scottish Thistle Awards finals in March next year
 CalMac boosts Taste for Tourism conference with local produce event at Oban Port Office
Added: 05 Nov 2015
As a prelude to the national Taste for Tourism conference in Oban, Caledonian MacBrayne has underscored its commitment to local sourcing by hosting a tasting event.

Held at the company’s port office in the town, the reception attracted a significant audience of conference delegates.

The event showcased the produce of many small to medium sized suppliers which Caledonian MacBrayne serves or sells on board its ferries as they ply their routes across the west coast of Scotland. Among those featured with displays and in delicious canapés were Dunoon’s Argyll Smokery, MacLeod’s Black Pudding from Stornoway, Arran Cheese, Isle of Barra seafood products, Island Organic Biscuits of Mull and drams from both Oban and Tobermory.

Delicacies from Perthshire’s Rannoch Smokery and the famous Macsween Haggis from Edinburgh also added to the tasty treats.

“We were delighted to open the port office in Oban to delegates and to offer some of our suppliers the opportunity to showcase their produce,” said Peter Griffiths, CalMac’s marketing manager.

“Caledonian MacBrayne became the first ferry company to gain VisitScotland’s Taste Our Best accreditation this year and we also gained our first ever local sourcing nomination at the Scotland Food and Drink Awards.

“CalMac spends more than £5 million a year with local suppliers making us a major customer and significant business enabler, as well as a carrier and promoter for food and drink tourism across the 200-mile long network. CalMac uses 67 suppliers for food and drink on board, of those 62 are Scottish and 44 of those are from islands.

“The quality of Scotland’s produce is second-to-none and Caledonian MacBrayne is proud to play its part in promoting, serving and selling these tasty offerings across our fleet.”
 Oban Harbour
Added: 30 Oct 2015
October 2015 marks one year since the partnership scheme to improve navigational safety in Oban Harbour began.

The scheme was initiated due to the current high level of ferry, commercial and marine leisure activity, the initiatives in place to increase this business and recent high-profile incidents.

Since 29th April this year there has been a Single Point of Contact available by telephone and VHF radio for all navigation and related queries and to provide general advice to mariners. This has been achieved through co-operation between Argyll and Bute Council’s harbour staff at the council owned North Pier and CalMac Ferries’ pier and terminal staff operating at the Railway and South Piers.

This new service operates between 08.00 and 01.00 (the following morning). In addition, the Oban Harbour website has been developed to support harbour operations, provide advice and information to both harbour users and the general public. Importantly, it provides a means to contact the Harbour Master by email. Find out more

Mike Brew, who is responsible for leading the project implementation, commented: “The good progress that has been made over the past year has been greatly helped by the contribution of the stakeholders and the willingness of all of the staff involved. On behalf of all of the project partners I would like to thank them for their attendance at briefings, but above all for their advice and support.”

Lorna Spencer, Director of Harbours, Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd, commented: “We are delighted that the hard work and continued engagement with all the stakeholders has delivered progress towards improving navigational safety in Oban Bay and Harbour and we are looking forward to continuing on-going improvements in the harbour environment.”

Councillor Alistair MacDougall, policy lead for transportation, welcomed the news, saying: “The safe and effective operation of Oban Harbour is essential to residents and businesses in and around Oban. The improvement in marine safety in Oban Bay that has been achieved to date through partnership working between council and CalMac staff is very welcome and we are pleased to be a partner in this continuing project.’’

Capt Phil Day, Director of Marine Operations for the Northern Lighthouse Board, commented: “The Northern Lighthouse Board is pleased to be involved in this initiative alongside the other berth operators, and most importantly working with the Oban community to improve safety. Oban harbour and approaches are becoming a busier and more crowded place particularly in Spring and Summer. We are committed to supporting this development whilst ensuring the Safety of the Mariner remains assured.

Alasdair Henderson from CalMac Ferries said: “The growth in commercial and leisure traffic within Oban Harbour is welcomed. It is important that everyone can operate safely in what is now a very busy harbour in summer. The Single Point of Contact created by improved working between CalMac and Council staff is a great step forward.”
 Argyll and Isles Tourism rockets towards 2020
Added: 21 Oct 2015
Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) today, (Wednesday 21 October), launched their ‘tourism rocket’, the blueprint from the industry which will lead the region into an exciting new tourism era.

The ‘rocket’, is the culmination of months of work by the region’s tourism body, and is the local response to the national Tourism Scotland 2020 strategy. It is an ambitious plan, which has been produced in consultation with local businesses and national partners, along with tourism industry experts, and will signpost the way forward for tourism in the region from now until 2020.

Of course there was only one place to launch the rocket - MACC Business Park in Kintyre, which is currently being considered as the site to host the country’s first ever spaceport. AITC and MACC directors were also joined by representatives of the region’s tourism leaders of the future, as pupils from Drumlemble Primary School helped with the countdown.

AITC Chair Gavin Dick welcomed everyone to the launch saying: “This is an exciting time in tourism and I am delighted to be here today in a location which has seen many launches over the years, and will hopefully, play a role in some ’out of this world’ launches in the future.

“Our rocket is an ambitious document, but we believe in setting high standards for tourism in Argyll and the Isles. We will be focusing on transport, connectivity, food and drink, skills, marketing – and be reviewing progress every step of the way through our quarterly Argyll and the Isles Tourism barometer. We are confident that we, together with our partners, will not only achieve these goals but, through these actions, are actively laying the cornerstones of a legacy for the tourism chiefs of the future.

“That is why I am so pleased to welcome, pupils of Drumlemble Primary School from P1 to P7. With our strategy focusing on growing all aspects of tourism across all of Argyll and the Isles, these young people represent the tourism leaders and the skilled and passionate tourism workforce of the future and I am delighted that they could be here today.”

Later today Marc Crothall, CEO of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, will address a meeting of local tourism organisations in Argyll, led by AITC. Commenting on the morning’s event he said: “I am delighted to be part of the launch of the AITC rocket and it’s great to see yet another destination align its own tourism strategy framework to the national strategy. ‘Tourism Scotland 2020’.

“The Argyll and Isles strategy is ambitious and provides a clear focus and direction of travel for the tourism industry and the destination as a whole.. As with Tourism Scotland 2020 achieving the ambition and delivering the aspirational growth of £1billion by 2020 requires strong leadership and collaboration with many across both public and private sectors, We say tourism is everyone’s business and the AITC must continue doing what they have done so well to date in making tourism become everyone’s business in Argyll & the Isles”
Attachments: Download File
 New look AITC board ready for the year ahead
Added: 30 Sep 2015
Loch Melfort Hotel, near Oban was the venue for the third Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) annual general meeting yesterday (Tuesday 29 September), which welcomed two new directors onto the Board, but, also said goodbye to two longstanding members.

Inveraray Jail’s governor, Gavin Dick and Loch Melfort Hotel’s Calum Ross – both founding directors since AITC’s inception in 2012 - remain as Chair and Vice-Chair respectively.

Cathy Craig formerly of Caledonian MacBrayne and now Commercial Director with Abellio ScotRail, was appointed as one of the new directors to the Board. She brings with her a wealth of experience in the transport industry along with her knowledge of the specific challenges and opportunities facing Argyll and the Isles.

AITC Chair Gavin Dick welcomed Cathy to the Board saying: “I’m delighted Cathy has agreed to join us as a co-opted director. Her experience and knowledge of the transport industry will be invaluable to AITC as we continue on our journey to promote Argyll and the Isles as a world-class destination. It gives me great pleasure to welcome her to the Board during what is a very exciting time for tourism in the region.”

Cathy said: “I’m thrilled to be joining the AITC board and to work with my colleagues to attract new and repeat visitors to Argyll and the Isles. I have been very impressed with the work AITC has been doing to date and look forward to being much more directly involved and able to put my knowledge and experience to good use in helping grow tourism activity in the area.”

The meeting also saw the resignation of two longstanding directors, David Currie representing Holiday Mull and Iona and Paul Graham representing Visit Islay and Jura.

Both directors leave big shoes to fill, but AITC is delighted to announce Neal Goldsmith FIH, General Manager at Isle of Mull Hotel and Spa and Chairman of the Institute of Hospitality Scotland as the new representative for Holiday Mull and Iona on the AITC board.

Talking about his appointment Neal said: “I am delighted to follow in the footsteps of Dave Currie representing Mull and Iona, and I am sure to continue the good work Dave has started, whilst constantly looking to evolve and widen the scope of possibilities for both Mull and Iona and Argyll and the Isles. I am already looking forward to working with like minded professionals, already on the board, to make Argyll and the Isles the place to visit.”

Gavin paid tribute to the contribution of both David (the third founding director) and Paul saying: “It was with sadness that I accepted the resignations of David and Paul. Both have contributed much to the tourism industry, and both have played significant roles in making AITC the organisation it is today. I’d like to wish them both the very best of luck.”

AITC now looks forward to a very busy few months as it gears up for its mini summit in October and Taste for Tourism conference in Oban in November.

Gavin said: “Our mini summit on 21 October will focus on us working closely with our members and partners. In the morning we will have the official unveiling of the AITC Rocket, this is our blueprint for tourism growth to 2020 and there seemed no better place to launch it other than at Machrihanish Air Base.

“We recently appointed The Lane Agency to provide marketing services and a major review is currently underway. This will form the basis of our strategy for the next 12 months. These changes will focus on member and partner working and our afternoon workshop will look at what activity is currently underway and how we can all work better together.

“The Taste for Tourism conference – in Oban between 3 – 5 November - will host industry leaders and businesses in the tourism and food and drink sectors. We’re asking the question ‘Can Scotland become a global food destination?’ We aim to find out how we can achieve that goal.”
Added: 22 Sep 2015
Isle of Mull Rugby Club represents Scotland in worldwide promotions championing rugby’s grassroots

VisitScotland is hoping that a new worldwide marketing campaign by Land Rover will boost interest in one of Scotland’s most stunning islands, Mull.

Images of the scenic isle - the second largest of the Inner Hebrides - will not only be seen by hundreds of thousands of spectators attending Rugby World Cup 2015 fixtures, but also by the massive global audiences tuning in to coverage of the games, thanks to the unique promotional activities launched for the Tournament by Worldwide Partner Land Rover.

The company’s #WeDealInReal global advertising and sponsorship campaign - which champions the players and supporters of rugby’s grassroots and reflects the resilience, determination, sportsmanship, teamwork and respect at the heart of the game - features the Isle of Mull Rugby Club.

The Club was chosen by Land Rover to represent Scotland in a series of 11 films featuring small amateur clubs from 11 of the 20 countries taking part in Rugby World Cup 2015. The films highlight that nnot all legends play in stadiums; most play on uneven pitches, in muddy fields, surrounded by mates and fuelled by a love of the sport.

They aim to shine a light on real, grassroots rugby, capturing the unity, passion, humour and spirit of the people who play it and who are passionate and dedicated, giving up their evenings to train, working tirelessly to raise money for their clubs, and bringing rugby into the heart of the community.

Idents from the films will be televised in seven official host broadcast partnership countries involved in Rugby World Cup 2015 so it is a unique opportunity for each of the small regional clubs featured and their local communities to get global exposure and show their dedication and passion to the game.

The #WeDealInReal television advertising campaign launched in the UK on September 18, coinciding with Rugby World Cup 2015’s Opening Ceremony and England’s first match, defeating Fiji at Twickenham.

Isle of Mull Rugby Club was chosen for the campaign due to its remote setting which sees players often hitching rides on local fishing boats to get to training. Visiting teams also have to arrive by boat and Saturday games are timed around the ferry schedule.

An important focus of the island’s sporting community, the Club’s challenges inspire a greater degree of commitment from the local fans, who have taken the team to heart and are very vocal on the side lines. Based at Garmony near Craignure, the Club and its stunning surroundings were filmed extensively for the campaign over three days in May, with footage focussing on the male and female players, Club supporters and the local scenery.

The complete film can be viewed at:

Malcolm Roughead OBE, Chief Executive of VisitScotland said: “It is wonderful that images of one of Scotland’s most spectacular locations will be broadcast to the huge international audiences tuning in to one of the biggest events not only in rugby, but also in the worldwide sporting calendar and we hope that inspires many more visitors to come to Argyll & The Isles and explore the many delights of Mull.

“I’m delighted too for Isle of Mull Rugby Club – the players and their loyal supporters in the community certainly deserve to be put in the spotlight as rugby grassroots heroes and it’s great to have them representing Scotland’s strong amateur circuit.”

Duncan Swinbanks, Secretary of Isle of Mull Rugby Club said: “We are absolutely thrilled and extremely honoured to have been chosen to be Scotland’s representative in this worldwide marketing campaign for rugby’s biggest tournament. We could hardly believe it when the film-makers approached us and told us we’d been picked to feature in Land Rover’s Rugby World Cup 2015 advertisements.

“They told us they felt that Isle of Mull Rugby Club would be a fantastic choice as the dedication of our players and the obstacles they have to overcome really show the passion of grassroots rugby, which is what this campaign is all about; turning out for training on the Island often involves long difficult journeys, up to 100 miles for some of our players. We were also told that our beautiful location would be great for the filming so we’re over the moon that images of the Club and Mull are going to be beamed all over the world during the tournament. Our commitment to the Game and to our Club community is certainly being rewarded by this global recognition.”

Laura Schwab, Marketing Director Jaguar Land Rover UK said: “We have deliberately chosen to shine the spotlight on some of the smallest, most remote, most deserving rugby clubs around the world. At Land Rover, we have a long history of supporting rugby from the grassroots up and we share many of the values that also sit at the heart of the game. Our unique #WeDealInReal campaign aims to put grassroots clubs, and the remarkable characters who represent the true spirit of the game, on the global stage, by telling their stories to an international audience.”

Land Rover, which has a 20-year heritage within rugby at all levels around the world, has created a fully integrated brand campaign for Rugby World Cup 2015. Seven official host broadcaster partnerships have been agreed for it, which will see #WeDealInReal content shown in the UK (ITV), Ireland (TV3), France (TF1), Italy (Sky Italia), South Africa (Super Sport), Japan (J Sports) and Australia (Fox Sports). As well as the 60-second campaign video, the stories of the 11 clubs will be told through the the series of short films during Tournament time, through broadcast partnerships in seven countries, as well as through print and digital advertising.

In addition to Isle of Mull Rugby Club representing Scotland, the clubs which feature in the #WeDealInReal campaign are: • Halifax RUFC, England • Clwb Rygbi y Fflint, Wales • Rugbaí Chorca Dhuibhne, Ireland • Bidart Union Club, France • CUS Siena, Italy • Dingo Cubs, Alice Springs, Australia • Davetalevu Rugby Club, Fiji • Hokkaido Barbarians Rugby Club, Japan • Soweto Rugby Club, South Africa • Upper Clutha RFC, New Zealand Further information on the Land Rover #WeDealInReal Rugby World Cup campaign can be found at: and @LandRoverrugby and #WeDealInReal
 Regional finalists have strong Argyll and the Isles flavour
Added: 18 Sep 2015
The Chair of Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) has congratulated tourism businesses across the region who were today (Friday 18 September) announced as regional finalists for this year’s Scottish Thistle Awards.

Businesses in Argyll and the Isles, which is covered by the Highlands and Islands region, have been selected as finalists in seven of the 14 categories.

Covering the Best Cultural Event or Festival and Best Informal Eating Experience to Best Restaurant Experience and Hospitality Hero, the categories include some of our best known businesses and events. The Tiree Wave Classic and Mull of Kintyre Half Marathon and 10K Race, which celebrated its 10th birthday in May, find themselves in the Best Sporting Event category. And Coillabus Lodges on Islay and Torrisdale Castle Estate in Carradale will battle it out in the Best Holiday Accommodation section.

Chair of AITC Gavin Dick welcomed today’s announcement saying, “I’m delighted to see so many Argyll and the Isles tourism businesses going forward to the regional finals. We know we have a great product and it’s encouraging to see this recognised by the tourism industry. It’s a privilege to be nominated and I’m delighted for everyone who has reached this stage. We’ll look forward to the announcement of the regional winners on Wednesday 13 November.”
Public exhibitions for A82 upgradePublic exhibitions for A82 upgrade
Added: 17 Sep 2015
Local communities and road users are being invited to view upgrade plans for the 10-mile stretch of the A82 which hugs the shoreline between Tarbet and Inverarnan.

A series of public exhibitions starting in Arrochar on 30 September will give local residents and road users the opportunity to view the preferred route option, meet the design team and provide feedback.

Transport Minister Derek Mackay said:

“The stretch of the A82 between Tarbet and Inverarnan presents many complex engineering challenges and environmental considerations, given its location between Loch Lomond and the West Highland rail line.

“However, we are committed to ensuring this key route connecting the central belt to the Highlands and Islands is fit for purpose and have already pressed ahead with the initial £2 million design programme.

“We now have a preferred route option identified and we are keen to unveil our proposals.

“I would encourage anyone with an interest to come along to one of the venues over the next few weeks to view our plans and to have an opportunity to discuss them with our team and provide their comments on our plans.”

Details of the public exhibitions:

Wednesday 30th September,
12 noon – 7pm
Three Villages Hall, Arrochar,
Argyll & Bute, G83 7AB

Thursday 1st Otober,
12 noon – 7pm
Crianlarich Village Hall, Main Street,
Crianlarich, Perthshire, FK20 8QN

Friday 2nd October,
2pm – 7pm
Kilmore & Oban Parish Church Centre,
Glencruitten Road, Oban, Argyll, PA34 4DN

Tuesday 6th October,
12 noon – 7pm
Duncansburgh MacIntosh Church Hall,
The Parade, Fort William, Inverness-shire,
PH33 6BA

For further information on the project, and to view the exhibition material online (available from 30 September),

please visit:
Park boss opens new path link to Three Lochs WayPark boss opens new path link to Three Lochs Way
Added: 30 Aug 2015
The new link path between Arrochar and the Three Lochs Way was formally opened on last Saturday by the CEO of the National Park, Gordon Watson, who praised the work of Helensburgh and District Access Trust in making the path possible before cutting the ribbon to declare the path open. With a grant from the Park topped up with some funding by the Access Trust, the path was constructed using locally available materials as well as road planings donated by Argyll and Bute Council – a true partnership which has made a huge improvement on what was there before making it much easier for both local path users and long distance walkers and mountain bikers who want to access the popular Three Lochs Way long distance walking route. The new path also completes Arrochar’s circular ’Hidden Heritage’ trail, a more local route which links Arrochar and Tarbet and introduces visitors to the area’s fascinating history.

After the opening ceremony, everyone walked up the new path with youngsters enjoying a treasure hunt located along the route. After their exertions all retired to the Three Villages Hall where local community organisations helped round things off with the essential culpa!

Meanwhile our struggle to obtain enough funds to build a path linking Garelochhead with the Three Lochs Way continues. The Trust has obtained about 50% of the funds required from SportScotland but needs another substantial sum to be able to contract the work. Multiple applications for funding have been submitted to various bodies and hopefully the Trust will triumph soon before the offer of existing funding is withdrawn. Path building is never easy.

Photo credit –

For further information contact
Anne Urquhart
  Highlands & Islands General Rural Development New support scheme launched.
Added: 24 Aug 2015
A new funding programme for broadband for rural communities across Scotland has been launched by the First Minister.

Nicola Sturgeon has announced the new Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) broadband grant scheme is now open for applications.

The £9 million fund will be used to support community-led broadband projects similar to GigaPlus Argyll – a ground-breaking scheme where groups of hard-to-reach communities get together to procure super-fast broadband services from commercial providers.

Ms Sturgeon made the announcement on a visit to Oban’s Phoenix Cinema, which has previously received SRDP support and where a new wifi tourist information kiosk has been installed.

The First Minister said:

“Superfast broadband is being rolled out across Scotland with Scottish Government support, and we are more than halfway towards meeting out target under the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) Programme. The social and economic benefits are clear, as demonstrated by this innovative and accessible wifi tourist information kiosk in Oban’s Phoenix Cinema.

“This SRDP funding will help communities in the hardest to reach broadband areas follow in the footsteps of the pioneering GigaPlus Argyll project, and work together to bring superfast services to homes and businesses.

“This scheme takes the available funding for community broadband projects up to £16.5 million in Scotland, over and above the £400 million DSSB investment. It is another step to achieving the Scottish Government’s aim of delivering world class connectivity by 2020 and, enabling people across Scotland to connect any time, any place, anywhere, using any device.”

The Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) 2014-2020 broadband grant scheme will be delivered by Community Broadband Scotland (CBS). CBS Director, Zoe Laird said:

“Access to high speed, robust, broadband has a transformational effect on how people live, work and learn, particularly in our most remote and rural communities. Our role at CBS is to help communities find innovative solutions and GigaPlus Argyll is a great example of an innovative business model that will bring transformational and robust broadband to the most remote of premises across eight island and mainland communities. The SRDP scheme will enable us to help even more rural communities across Scotland get digitally connected.”

Eight island and mainland communities on the west coast of Scotland have joined forces with Community Broadband Scotland (CBS) for the community-owned GigaPlus Argyll project. Chairman Moray Finch said:

“Broadband connectivity in the GigaPlus Argyll area is poor, with speeds less than 2 Mbps, and our communities on the islands and Craignish peninsula are outside the reach of the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband fibre scheme. By getting together with CBS, we have been successful in securing tenders and appointing a company specialising in the installation and operation of wireless superfast broadband which will deliver affordable services to 1,400 homes and businesses, opening up huge opportunities for us.”

Calum Ross, Vice Chair of Argyll & the Isles Tourism Cooperative (AITC), said:

“AITC is acutely aware of the importance of superfast broadband and 3G/4G coverage across our rural area to help grow tourism. Innovative solutions are vital in our remote rural areas, and our kiosks are a prime example of this as is GigaPlus Argyll.

“We are also very keen to ensure that businesses are geared up to make the most of superfast broadband when it is available, to help meet the needs of their own businesses and also, most importantly, the needs of their customers. We have a great capacity building resource in place locally through our team of development agents and we are looking forward to helping local groups of tourism businesses take advantage of the support the new SRDP can offer for community solutions in the more remote rural areas in Argyll and the Isles."

Oban Phoenix Cinema Director Louise Glen said:

“The Phoenix already has wifi which is hugely popular with local customers and tourists, but superfast broadband will make a massive difference to our cinema. It will make it much easier and faster for us to access the latest releases, as well as enabling us to screen live-streamed events. I know that superfast infrastructure is currently being installed in Oban and we can’t wait to get connected.”

Notes To Editors

About the Broadband Scheme:

The Broadband Scheme is part of the £1.3 billion Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) 2014-2020. More information, and details of how to apply, can be found here

This scheme is being is administered by Community Broadband Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspections Division (RPID). It is open to groups of communities to establish and scale-up the demand for superfast broadband services in areas that are unlikely to be served by the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband Programme (DSSB). Communities will link together to form joint community projects which can be taken to the market to deliver a broadband solution for their area.

The scheme will:

support communities to establish and scale-up the demand for superfast broadband services in areas that are unlikely to be served by the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband Programme (DSSB)
support community projects that create, improve and extend superfast broadband infrastructure in remote and rural Scotland.

About CBS

Community Broadband Scotland is a £7.5 million Scottish Government project led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise. It inspires, supports, and empowers remote and rural communities across Scotland to establish community broadband networks, delivering improved connectivity which will transform the way communities live, work and learn. Its focus is to support areas in the hardest to reach broadband areas which are currently unlikely to benefit from the £400 million Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme (DSSB). DSSB aims to reach 95% of Scottish premises by the end of 2017. CBS has two product offerings:

an aggregated approach to deliver Next Generation Broadband services with more commercial involvement and subject to specific state aid approval processes which will be delivered under the SRDP Broadband Scheme.
a funding mechanism for smaller projects for communities which are capable and willing to deliver the solution themselves.

About DSSB
The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband initiative is delivering over £400 million of investment to extend fibre broadband access to areas where the market would not otherwise go. The programme will extend coverage to 95% of Scottish premises by the end of 2017, with an interim milestone of 85% coverage by March 2016.

The programme consists of two regional projects – one covering the Highlands and Islands area and the other covering the Rest of Scotland. Both contracts were awarded to BT in 2013. The Digital Scotland rollout has passed more than 394,000 premises since it started. It means the project is more than half way to its target of making the technology available to 750,000 properties by the end of the contract period.

Superfast broadband infrastructure is being installed in Oban and across Argyll and Bute under the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband initiative. So far, 13,560 premises in Argyll and Bute have access to superfast broadband.

About the Oban Phoenix Cinema

Oban’s Phoenix Cinema has previously received SRDP Argyll & Islands LEADER funding. It is also Scotland’s only Living Wage-accredited cinema.

About AITC

Argyll & the Isles Tourism Cooperative (AITC) was set up as a cooperative in 2012 to bring together the many marketing groups operating within Argyll & the Isles. At the outset AITC received SRDP LEADER funding towards a ‘stronger together’ campaign to devise an umbrella brand and start promoting the area as a must visit destination.

AITC now receives funding from HIE, Argyll & Bute Council, Calmac and others to drive forward a three year development programme which includes capacity building support at a local level. AITC has a development agent network able to work with groups to help them take advantage of the new SRDP funding for community broadband initiatives.

AITC strongly supports the roll out of broadband and mobile connectivity and is actively encouraging members to enhance their digital skills in readiness. AITC is the first destination to engage in the recently launched Digital Tourism Scotland programme being led by HIE and SE with the first workshop taking place on 20 August 2015.

The AITC route planner kiosks which received HIE funding as a digital innovation initiative have been developed to address the current lack of connectivity by allowing visitors to plan a personal itinerary and have this emailed to their smart phone/tablet so they have it to hand when out and about in the area.
 Date confirmed for airbase obstacle event
Added: 21 Aug 2015
After huge success in 2014, the MACC Challenge will be back this November and organisers promise this year’s event will be tougher and more thrilling than the last.

The military-themed obstacle race, which was held for the first time at Machrihanish Airbase last year, stretches four miles across the 1,000 acre site and features a variety of challenging terrains and obstacles to test your limits.

Course director and member of Campbeltown Running Club, James Murdoch said: “We are looking at some exciting new additions to the course this year. With more businesses now located at MACC, we have incorporated new areas of the site and thought of different ways to use the space – this means that no two MACC Challenges will ever be the same!”

Taking the lead from the global success of Tough Mudder and other world-wide obstacle events, Kintyre got truly caught up in the spirit of the mud last year, with just under 100 participants. There are 130 spaces available for 2015 and these are expected to be snapped up quickly.

James continues: “There was a tremendous buzz following the last event and we have received a lot of enquiries about a date for this year. We hope everyone remembers how much fun they had and pesters their friends to get involved too. Again, it is all about the enjoyment and working together through the challenges. No prizes, no official timing, just the achievement after completing the next obstacle and at the end of the course. You don’t need to be mega fit, but you do need to be willing to get stuck right in!"

Spectators are welcome to come along to cheer on participants. Entry fee will be a donation to this year’s chosen charity, Marie Curie Cancer Care.

MACC Chairman, Tom Millar said: “We are pleased to be facilitating this fantastic event again this year. It is another way for MACC to give back and engage with our local community. The site lends itself perfectly to sport and leisure activity and it is a great opportunity for us to work with Campbeltown Running Club to promote active and healthier lifestyles.”

Entries will open via Entry Central at 9am on Tuesday September 1 and costs £27.50 per space. Organisers are inviting any local businesses that may be interested in sponsoring the event to get in touch to discuss packages available. Stay up-to-date with event details at or find MACC Challenge on Facebook.
Added: 17 Aug 2015
Land Rover, a Worldwide Partner of Rugby World Cup 2015, has announced that amateur teams Halifax RUFC, Clwb Rygbi y Fflint and Isle of Mull Rugby Club have been selected to feature in the brand’s #WeDealInReal global advertising and sponsorship campaign for the Tournament.

Building on its Official Sponsor status for Rugby World Cup 2011, Land Rover has used its 20 year heritage within rugby at all levels around the world to create a fully integrated brand campaign which puts grassroots rugby at its heart having identified these three Rugby clubs.

Land Rover will champion the people and players of Halifax RUFC, Clwb Rygbi y Fflint and Isle of Mull Rugby Club that are the heart and soul of the Game. Each club has a unique story to tell and Land Rover has captured these stories in an emotive campaign that delves into the values that set Rugby apart and celebrates the clubs and people who are at the heart of the Game.

Laura Schwab, ‎ Marketing Director Jaguar Land Rover UK said: “We have deliberately chosen to shine the spotlight on some of the smallest, most remote, most deserving rugby clubs around the world. At Land Rover, we have a long history of supporting rugby from the grassroots up and we share many of the values that also sit at the heart of the game. Our unique #WeDealInReal campaign aims to put grassroots clubs, and the remarkable characters who represent the true spirit of the game, on the global stage, by telling their stories to an international audience.”

Schwab continued, “To dedicate our media for the third biggest sporting event in the world to a variety of small clubs may be viewed by some as an unusual approach; but we feel it’s important to show our commitment to all levels of the game.”

The 60 second #WeDealInReal campaign video can be viewed here:

Isle of Mull Rugby Club, situated off the west coast of Scotland has been chosen as one of the 11 finalists due to the club’s remote setting which sees players often hitching rides on local fishing boats to get to training.

Visiting teams also have to arrive by boat and Saturday games are precisely timed around the ferry schedule. The sole focus of the island’s sporting community; the club’s challenges only inspire a greater degree of commitment from the local fans, who have taken the team to heart and are very vocal on the side lines.

Fergus Whyte, Isle of Mull Rugby Club said: "Turning out for training on the Island often involves long difficult journeys, up to 100 miles for some, but that doesn’t deter the lads. Where there’s a will there’s a way and we are always determined to field a side. So for Land Rover to reward our commitment to the Game with this global recognition is a huge honour.”

Clwb Rygbi Y Fflint’s love of the game, sportsmanship and team spirit perfectly exemplify the essential elements of grassroots Rugby. A collaborative, player-run club, everyone takes turns at everything, the perfect metaphor for the spirit of the team being the old bus – known as the ‘fun bus’ – that the whole team has to push to get started to take them to away games. Just like Flint though, the bus always comes through and gets them to the game on time.

Clwb Rygbi Y Fflint club coach Aled Davies: “For Land Rover to have recognised our dedication and commitment to the Game is a huge honour for us. There is an amazing sense of togetherness at Flint as we all muck in and get our hands dirty with whatever tasks are needed. We insist on travelling together as it makes us stronger as a group and if pushing the ‘fun bus’ is the only way to do it, so be it!”

Halifax RUFC fell from professional status due to lack of funding and was relegated to the lowest regional league but they never thought of giving up. The club is now on the rise again, happier and more committed than ever. Under the management of the only female Director of Rugby in the country, Sarah Clough, Halifax RUFC’s ‘back to the grassroots’ approach is working and the club is rising back through the ranks, having been promoted three times in the last six years.

Sarah Clough said: “It is a huge honour to be featuring in Land Rover’s #WeDealInReal campaign for Rugby World Cup 2015. We are a small but committed group of players with the soul motivation of playing for the love of the Game, so to be rewarded with this global recognition is a huge boost for the club after what have been some difficult times.”

Land Rover launched its #WeDealInReal campaign in March by using some of its most high-profile Rugby ambassadors to lend a hand at a grassroots match in Hampshire, England. Legends of the Game past and present, including Rugby World Cup winners Jonny Wilkinson, Will Greenwood, Sir Clive Woodward, Brad Thorn and Bryan Habana rewarded amateur side Racal Decca RFC by assisting with the club’s routine match day preparations.

The video can be viewed here: The other clubs that will feature in Land Rover’s Rugby World Cup 2015 #WeDealInReal campaign are: - Bidart Union Club, France - CUS Siena, Italy - Dingo Cubs, Alice Springs, Australia - Davetalevu Rugby Club, Fiji - Hokkaido Barbarians Rugby Club, Japan - Rugbaí Chorca Dhuibhne, Ireland - Soweto Rugby Club, South Africa - Upper Clutha RFC, New Zealand

The #WeDealInReal advertising campaign will launch in the UK on September 18, coinciding with the Rugby World Cup 2015 Opening Ceremony and England’s first match, taking place at Twickenham. Seven official host broadcaster partnerships have been agreed which will see #WeDealnReal content shown in the UK (ITV), Ireland (TV3), France (TF1), Italy (Sky Italia), South Africa (Super Sport), Japan (J Sports) and Australia (Fox Sports).
 The Vikings are coming!!
Added: 07 Aug 2015
It may be 950 years since Viking ships were last seen off the Scottish coast, but this month the longship Freydis, is making the voyage across the North Sea to her spiritual home of Norway where she will be a guest at Tønsberg’s Viking Festival (9-13 September 2015).

Freydis, and her two support vessels, will be led by two of the organisers of the Loch Fyne Viking Festival, Phil Robertson – who built Freydis in 2014 and Hans Kok – the inspiration behind the Festival which has recently celebrated its second birthday. And, in true Viking style, Phil and Hans have attracted by a truly international crew for their six-week journey, with sailors from Britain, Denmark, Holland, Ireland and Switzerland.

Freydis will leave the harbour in Tarbert, Loch Fyne on Friday 14 August and set sail for the Crinan and Caledonian Canals. Nessie will also have her opportunity to get a selfie with Freydis, before she begins the three-day, 300 Nm North Sea journey, as she takes to the waters of Loch Ness.

On the way to Norway there will be lots of chances for the public to see Freydis and find out more about Viking traditions. As well as attending the Burghead Viking Event, the Vikings intend stopping at Crinan, Corpach, Fort Augustus, Inverness, Burghead, Mandal, Kristiansand, Lillesand, Grimstad, Arendal, Tvedestrand, Risør, Kragerø, Stavern and Tønsberg. Unlike their predecessors, the Kintyre Vikings are very friendly and happy to let Viking fans sail (or try their hand at rowing) Freydis.

Hans Kok explained, “When we were invited to Tønsberg for their Viking Festival we hadn’t envisaged taking Freydis. But, as with all good plans, this one grew and before we knew it we’d planned a Viking adventure! We’d like to take this opportunity to thank Heart of Argyll Tourism Alliance, Scottish Canals and Burghead Viking Festival for their generous support of our trip.

“We’re really looking forward to both festivals and we’ll promoting Argyll to the locals, as well as promoting food from Argyll we have arranged for the new all girl Argyll group Smorach to perform In Tønsberg. And, of course, we’ll be extending an invitation for a reciprocal visit to the 2017 Loch Fyne Viking Festival.”

Organisers have been fundraising all year for this trip but, due to unforeseen costs with the ship’s sail, they have now started a Crowd Funding project. If you would like to pledge money you can at
 Kilmartin Museum secures Heritage Lottery Fund support
Added: 06 Aug 2015
Kilmartin Museum’s Redevelopment Project has taken a massive leap forward with a first-round pass confirmed from HLF and endorsement towards a further £3.1 million bid.

The first-round pass has granted the Museum £400,000 Development Funding to progress plans to a full proposal. The Museum is located at the heart of Kilmartin Glen in Argyll, one of Scotland’s most important prehistoric landscapes. It currently cares for some of Britain’s oldest Bronze Age and Neolithic artefacts dating back to at least 3,500 BC, some of which are unique.

The 800 known prehistoric and historic monuments within 10 miles of the Museum include the world’s largest prehistoric cup and ring marked rock and Dunadd Fort, citadel of the Kings of the Scotti tribe from whom Scotland got its name.

Colin McLean, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: “As people have come and gone over the centuries, the standing stones of Kilmartin have stood firm representing over 5000 years of Scottish history. Thanks to players of the National Lottery, we are delighted to support the development of a project which will transform Kilmartin Museum so that it can perform its vital role in interpreting and promoting this internationally important landscape.”

The £6.5 million Redevelopment Project will transform existing buildings and safeguard the collections. New facilities will allow the Museum to provide exciting and creative ways for local people and visitors to connect with Argyll’s archaeology and natural heritage via a major programme of cultural events and activities. The redesign and expansion of the museum by multi award winning architects, Reiach and Hall will include an inspiring new exhibition gallery displaying never-before-seen prehistoric objects. An additional gallery will be available for use by local artists and to showcase temporary exhibitions from outside Argyll. A new learning suite will contain a collection store, education space and laboratory, providing opportunities for volunteers, educational institutions, community groups and researchers to engage with Argyll’s internationally important archaeology. With the added provision of modern and attractive visitor services, Argyll’s tourism sector is in turn set to receive a major economic boost. The museum plans to have these new facilities in place by 2020.

Gordon Gray Stephens, Chair of Kilmartin Museum Trust said: “We’re really pleased to have the support of HLF for our proposals. The Kilmartin Glen landscape is a gem that more people from Scotland and further afield will now be able to discover. We believe that the redevelopment will also create cultural and economic opportunities for Argyll.”

Kilmartin Museum Director and Curator Dr Sharon Webb added: “Kilmartin Museum is surrounded by a world-class prehistoric landscape and fantastic natural heritage. The Museum’s collection is of international importance and gives amazing insights into the lives of people who lived here. We now collect and care for most of the archaeological artefacts found in Argyll and we’ve outgrown our current facilities. We have the opportunity to gather Argyll’s archaeology in one place and ensure that it remains here. We are extremely grateful to HLF for this significant award, which along with help from our other supporters will safeguard the collections and bring significant benefit to the area. The Project will enable generations to enjoy the stories of the people who built the monuments and used the artefacts we’ve found in this wonderful place.”

Neil Gillespie OBE, Director at Reiach and Hall added: “Kilmartin Glen is a very special place, remarkable not only for the number and quality of its archaeological sites but also for its wonderful west coast landscape and light. The Board and staff of Kilmartin Museum are not only totally committed to safeguarding these prehistoric and early historic artefacts, they are concerned with revealing them to us, not to mention also administering warm hospitality [i.e. cakes!] with a strong sense of community. Reiach and Hall Architects are absolutely delighted to be part of this extremely exciting project.”

An independent charity, Kilmartin Museum has been working behind the scenes on fundraising for some time. A significant amount of funding for the project has already been pledged by partners and supporters and a major public fundraising campaign will be launched in the coming months to secure the remainder of the match funding required.
Added: 04 Aug 2015
Food and drink producers along with tourism businesses are set to team up at a major event this year designed to bring hundreds of thousands more tourists to Scotland by developing and branding it as a food destination. The Taste for Tourism event, with the tagline ‘Has Scotland got what it takes to be a global food tourism destination?’ will take place in Oban between 3rd and 5th November 2015.

Capitalising on its food and drink heritage, the Taste for Tourism campaign and event aims to catapult Scotland to the top of the wish list for tourists who see high quality food and drink as a rich cultural experience and the main reason to travel – a valuable and high-spending segment.

That means not just ensuring that top quality local produce is widely available in hotels, pubs and restaurants, but that we celebrate this important part of our culture with our visitors and that this is at the heart of as many activities and experiences as possible.

The summit will be hands on and support the Scottish Government’s Year of Food and Drink celebrations. The event is being organised by Food from Argyll and Argyll & the Isles Tourism Co-operative. Sponsors include and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Argyll and Bute Council, CalMac and VisitScotland alongside support from Scotland Food and Drink and Scottish Tourism Alliance.

The aim is to bring together food producers, tourism businesses, tour operators, agencies and the media to learn about each other and discuss ways of further developing food tourism in Scotland. It takes place in Oban, Argyll, with behind the scenes flavour tours on 3rd November, the main conference on the 4th and an optional trip to Mull on the 5th of November 2015.

Featuring top international speakers with experience of building food destinations, question and answer sessions and of course the opportunity to network and taste some of Scotland’s wonderful food and drink, the event aims to accelerate the move towards a critical mass needed to build a food destination.

Building on what has been achieved during Year of Food and Drink, delegates will be inspired to put Scotland on the global tourism map building on its reputation as a Land of Food and Drink. Amongst the international speakers is Rebecca LeHeup, Executive Director of Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance (OCTA), a not-for-profit organisation connecting people across agriculture and tourism industries. She has been instrumental in developing tourism products including Prince Edward County’s award winning Taste Trail and OCTA’s Feast ON program to name a few.

Calum Ross, director of Argyll & the Isles Tourism Co-operative Ltd, said: “Food and drink already accounts for one in every five pounds spent by visitors to Scotland, and that could be even higher if more tourism providers work together with producers to real food and drink experiences embodying our wonderful traditions. By building Scotland’s reputation as a food destination, we can also enhance the value of an already thriving food sector.”

Anna Allan, head of business events at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: “Tourism and food and drink are already two of Scotland’s most successful industries and by bringing businesses, agencies and other players together we can help both sectors grow even faster by tapping in to the huge and valuable market for food tourism. We are delighted to support such a major event in Oban and the surrounding Argyll area during the Year of Food and Drink. This conference will help ensure Scotland secures a lasting legacy from this themed year by ensuring we all work together to maximise the huge potential Scotland has to strengthen its profile as a food and drink destination.”

Virginia Sumsion, Co-ordinator for Food from Argyll and one of the organisers of Taste for Tourism, said: “The international food and drink tourism market is worth hundreds of millions of pounds and Scotland already has a share of it, which will undoubtedly rise as a result of the Year of Food and Drink. But we can do even better if we build ourselves into a place not just where great produce is made among beautiful scenery, but somewhere that has the destinations and tourist attractions to bring in visitors whose primary purpose is to enjoy food and drink and the heritage surrounding it.”

Riddell Graham, VisitScotland Director of Partnerships, said: “Food and drink is an integral part of the tourism experience with visitors spending almost a fifth of their budget on eating and drinking. The Year of Food and Drink aims to raise awareness of Scotland’s authentic dining experiences and entice Scots and visitor to Scotland to explore the country’s outstanding natural larder. Events like Taste for Tourism help unite the tourism and food and drink sector, allowing the two industries to develop ways to capitalise on the increased interest in Scotland’s culinary delights and build on the momentum generated in 2015.”

Tickets are available now at an early bird rate of £150 for the full conference and dinner, with optional behind the scenes “flavour” tours also available for an additional £50. There will be an exciting range of accommodation and transport options offered in the local area. For more information on Taste for Tourism, and to book tickets for the event, visit the website
 Ferry discount for Blue Badge holders - Cheaper vehicle fares from October 2015
Added: 28 Jul 2015
Blue Badge holders will be able to access reduced vehicle fares on the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services (CHFS) network from October 2015, Minister for Transport and Islands Derek Mackay has announced.

A new 25% discount for Blue Badge holders will be applied on Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) vehicle fares, which are also due to come into effect across the whole CHFS network at the start of the Winter timetable.

The discount will be available on car, motorhome and motorbike fares.

In cases where the new discounted RET fares are more expensive than the previously available discount, the fares will be capped at the lower level.

The discount will be open to both islanders and non-islanders that hold a Blue Badge.

Mr Mackay said:

“We want our Islands and the attractions they offer to be as open and accessible as possible, so I’m very pleased to announce these new discounted vehicle fares for Blue Badge holders.

“In cases where the new discounted fares are higher than the old ones, they will be capped at the lower level. This means ferry travel continues to be attractive and affordable to everyone.

“Along with the introduction of lower RET fares across the CHFS network from October 2015, this is more evidence of the Scottish Government’s commitment to investing in our ferry services and continued support for the Island economies.”
 Loganair wins PSO flights contract
Added: 27 Jul 2015
New enhanced service operates from October

Loganair have been awarded the contract to operate the Scottish Government’s Public Service Obligation flights from Glasgow to Campbeltown, Tiree and Barra, Minister for Transport and Islands Derek Mackay has announced.

The new contract, which features a significantly enhanced service on all three routes, will commence in October to coincide with the Winter timetable and run for the next four years.

The new specifications to better serve passengers, include:

Increasing return trips to Tiree and Barra to two per day on Monday-Saturday.
Bringing forward the start date of Sunday services to Campbeltown from June to May.
Extending Sunday services to Tiree and Barra to operate all year round.
Loganair will operate the routes with the new Twin Otter DHC6-400 aircraft, which entered service last month.

Mr Mackay said:

“As Minister for Transport and Islands, I understand just how important these air links are to the local economies of Campbeltown, Tiree and Barra. This new enhanced contract will deliver an improved service for the communities that rely on these flights.

“We have listened to local representatives to find out what we could do better and have built improved specifications into this contract to make sure the flights are supporting people, businesses and tourism. Additional services started on the Tiree route earlier this month and have already proved very popular.

“These air links transport people, goods and services, playing a crucial role for service industries and ensuring that residents have access to specialist healthcare. They also enable visitors to reach the islands easily, boosting local tourism.

“The routes will also be served by our new Twin Otter aircraft, which entered service last month. I had the pleasure of landing on the beach runway at Barra in one of the new planes last month, and have no doubt they will prove popular with all who travel in them.

“I congratulate Loganair on winning this contract and l look forward to seeing these enhanced services bring benefits to the communities they serve.”

Stewart Adams, Chief Executive of Loganair, said: “We are extremely pleased to be awarded this contract to continue operations on the Scottish Government’s PSO air services.

“Combined with the introduction of the new Scottish Government Twin Otter aircraft, the new specification allows us to deliver an enhanced service providing improved connectivity to each of the communities we serve.

“We are proud to be delivering Transport Scotland’s commitment to securing these lifeline services for a further four years.”
 AITC statement on resolution between Caledonian MacBrayne and the unions
Added: 23 Jul 2015
Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) has welcomed the news that a resolution has been reached between Caledonian MacBrayne and the unions, which prevents any further strike action. This has been a difficult time for the staff and ferry operator and has had an impact on tourism on the west coast of Scotland.

Today (Thursday 23 July), AITC directors Paul Graham from Islay and David Currie from Mull said this was ’good news’ both for the hundreds of island businesses previously affected and the many tourists planning to visit some of the 23 inhabited islands and peninsulas in the AITC region. The agreement will ensure there is no further interruption in the ferry services from industrial action for the communities who depend on them, and it will also give confidence to the many tourists currently making travel plans and with accommodation already booked. There has been an inevitable impact from the recent strike action at the busiest time of year for local businesses and yesterday’s agreement is good news for everyone.
 Landslide mitigation efforts continue on A83
Added: 22 Jul 2015
Further work is to be carried out on the A83 to establish how the local diversion route, the Old Military Road, can be improved to help keep Argyll opened for business in the event of a landslide at the Rest and Be Thankful.

Transport Scotland will look at options to improve the general layout, access points and the operation and implementation of the diversion route should it be required.

The local diversion route is part of the range of measures being progressed on the A83 under the Red Option to help reduce the risk of impacts of landslides at the Rest and Be Thankful. As well as the diversion route, it has seen the introduction of additional fencing and debris netting as well as drainage and culvert improvements.

Transport Minister Derek Mackay said:

“The A83 is a vital route for people in Argyll and Bute and the Scottish Government is firmly committed to mitigating the effects of landslides in the area.

“At the recent A83 Taskforce meeting, members agreed that improving the resilience of the Old Military Road would help maintain continuity of access in the long term and Transport Scotland will now take that work forward.

“Our mitigation measures are making a difference, with the netting and culverts successfully preventing debris from reaching the road. The Old Military Road has also been used by thousands of motorists, saving them the inconvenience of having to use a lengthy diversion.

“A total of £48 million has been spent on the maintenance of the A83 since 2007. This includes more than £10 million through the A83 Taskforce with another £3M committed Taskforce spend this financial year. This further underlines our determination to keep this key strategic route operational to support the local and regional communities and businesses.”
 UK’s largest ferry network operator picks up two awards at marketing presentation
Added: 29 Jun 2015
Nothing says ‘Welcome home’ quite like an icon of the Scottish coastline. At least that certainly seemed to be the case at the Marketing Society Scotland STAR Awards 2015, with Gourock-based ferry company Caledonian MacBrayne picking up two awards for its Come Home with CalMac campaign.

Running alongside VisitScotland’s Homecoming 2014, the campaign asked ‘If not now, when?’ and gave travellers – whether in far-flung places or simply on the far-side of Scotland – ideas, hints and tips on how to make their homecoming to the west coast as easy and fun as possible.

It was a significant year for Scotland as the eyes of the world turned this way for both the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the Ryder Cup in Gleneagles. The marketing team at CalMac picked up a silver award in the Tourism and Leisure section, and a bronze for the Digital category.

Developed in conjunction with The Lane Agency, the campaign also linked into key events taking place across CalMac’s network, allowing visitors to customise their travel to suit known festivals and highlights. A separate Come Home with CalMac website was set up as a one-stop-shop to make it yet easier for the home-comer to really get inspired by the islands and mainland routes served by the UK’s largest ferry network operator with reminders and ideas delivered on a regular basis to social media channels, leading to recognition in the Digital bronze award.

And the Travel and Leisure silver accolade is a nod to Lane and the company’s integrated approach across the piece. Working alongside VisitScotland, communities throughout the network, visitor attractions and major festivals, local producers, restaurants and hotels, CalMac was able to produce a co-ordinated approach to highlight and increase passenger footfall to the islands during a year of high interest in travel to Scotland.

And it worked, bringing an extra 69,204 passengers to Hebridean and Clyde shores throughout the network, which was a 1.9 per cent increase on 2013 figures, and a 3.2 per cent increase in cars, up to 25,180. All welcome tourism business for the communities which CalMac works hard to support.

“We couldn’t be more delighted to have won these awards,” said Caledonian MacBrayne’s Head of Marketing, Peter Griffiths. “My team worked incredibly hard alongside the Lane Agency to put together a relevant and co-ordinated campaign during the year of Homecoming 2014.

“Bearing in mind the significant and exceptional quality increase in activity across many tourism organisations and companies during the landmark year that was 2014, it is a huge honour to have been recognised and rewarded in this way.”
Added: 29 Jun 2015
The scenic island of Bute is making the final preparations of Scotland’s latest and most exciting new music festival for the whole family.

Taking place 17 to 19 July, Butefest will bring a packed programme of live bands, local producers, family entertainment and a few surprises along the way. The stellar line-up includes Peatbog Faeries, The Treacherous Orchestra, Skerryvore, Stanley Odd, Federation of the Disco Pimps, The John Langan Band, Sinderins, We Banjo 3, Merryhell, Woodenbox and many more.

Butefest organisers are also delighted to announce Caledonian MacBrayne has confirmed as a lead sponsor for the event. Along with supporting travel to the festival, the UK’s largest ferry company will also be sponsoring the CalMac Culture Introducing Stage. Organised completely by members of the local community, Butefest is firmly a family friendly event.

From storytelling and puppetry by local actress Alison Clark to bonkers, interactive science lessons from Professor Pumpernickel, there is something for all ages. Ian Douglas and Gary Bridgens will be enchanting the crowd with their vintage suitcases of stories and mobile rickshaw of folktales. While a packed programme of pirate-themed activities and games running across the weekend, will be the perfect introduction to first-time festivalgoers.

To celebrate VisitScotland’s Year of Food and Drink 2015, some of the best local producers including the Bute Brew Co., Henshelwood Foods and Winston Churchill Venison will be on offer, alongside some exotic new flavours from a range of food stalls to titillate tastebuds. Bars will also be stocked with some of Scotland’s best craft beers and ciders, each handpicked from its top microbreweries.

Easily accessible from the mainland via Wemyss Bay and CalMac Ferries, the festival is just 33 miles west of Glasgow as the crow flies. With weekend adult tickets costing just £65 for the three nights including optional complementary camping, this amazing value festival is expected to bring over 2000 people to the Isle of Bute.

Festival Chair, Melanie Dalton said: “Butefest has been a dream of ours for a number of years and that we are able to make it a reality is really special. Considering this is a new venture, to have such a high calibre of acts such as Peatbog Fairies, Treacherous Orchestra and Skerryvore preform over the weekend is simply amazing and were thrilled to have them supporting us. “Butefest would not be happening without the local community being one hundred per cent behind us and we’re incredibly grateful for everyone’s help and enthusiasm. Bute has such a lot to offer visitors, we hope this festival will be the perfect reason for people to come and enjoy all this stunning island has to offer and make a real break of it.”

Peter Griffiths of CalMac Ferries, which is also sponsoring the CalMac Culture Introducing Stage, said: “We were delighted to get involved with this new and exciting festival that is looking to showcase new talent alongside some of Scotland’s top bands. We were especially excited about how family friendly the festival is, reflecting CalMac’s intention to highlight family events and holidays in the Scottish isles.

“CalMac is proud to play a tangible supporting role in cultural events across our network and, this year alone, that will see us lending help to more than 100 events. We are delighted to add Butefest to this and I am sure that it will become a firm favourite.” Adult weekend tickets cost £65 and include optional complementary camping/campervan parking, with Youth Weekend tickets (12-16 years old) costing £55. Under-fives are free, with Weekend Children tickets (6-11 years old) just £30. Tickets are now on sale from
 New aircraft ready to operate routes to Campbeltown, Tiree and Barra
Added: 19 Jun 2015
The two new planes that will operate on the Scottish Government’s Public Service Obligation (PSO) routes will enter service next week, Minister for Transport and Islands, Derek Mackay, has announced.

The Twin Otter DHC6-400 aircraft will be deployed on the routes from Glasgow to Campbeltown, Tiree and Barra.

The 19-seat twin engine planes arrived in Glasgow last month and have now completed the certification process. They were manufactured by Viking Air Limited at the company’s base in Vancouver, Canada.

Speaking at Barra Airport, following a training run in the new plane, Mr Mackay said:

“I’m pleased to see that the aircraft are now ready to be deployed and start serving the communities that depend on them.

“The flights play a crucial role transporting people and goods, providing vital support for the service industries, fisheries and agriculture.

“They will also help boost local tourism by enabling visitors to reach the islands and ensuring our PSO routes continue to be reliable and attractive to travellers.

“The purchase of our own aircraft will encourage more competition for the next contract to operate the PSO routes. That contract has been enhanced, with more flights and better timings to offer local residents and businesses, as well as tourists, an improved service. The first set of enhancements comes into effect on the Tiree route at the start of next month.

“It’s been fantastic to experience this journey in the new planes first hand, especially landing on the iconic beach runway at Barra Airport.

“I have no doubt the new aircraft will be welcomed by the remote communities that rely on these services to keep them connected.”

Michael Galbraith, station manager for Barra Airport, said: “These purpose built aircraft will ensure that some of Scotland’s most beautiful but remote communities enjoy improved access to the mainland.

“Designed specifically for these routes, these larger aircraft will deliver an important social and economic boost for the region, connecting businesses and communities, and supporting inbound tourism. Barra has recently been named as one of the most scenic airport landings in the world and enjoyed strong growth during the last financial year. We hope the arrival of the new aircraft will increase the flow of tourist traffic into Barra.

“HIAL is delighted to have played its part in commissioning the new aircraft. They are a valuable asset for these communities and we look forward to working with the next PSO operator to ensure these aircraft are well utilised for the benefit of the communities they serve.”
 Caledonian MacBrayne announces more support for Tiree Music Festival
Added: 09 Jun 2015
A long term sponsor of Tiree Music Festival, Caledonian MacBrayne has announced extra support for 2015’s event taking place between the 17- 19th of July.

Relying on substantial volunteer input, the additional sponsorship will be used to help those who are giving free of their time, alleviating some of the transport costs to and from the multi award winning festival.

The one-off commitment acknowledges the increased draw of the 10th anniversary of Skerryvore – band member Daniel Gillespie together with friend Stewart MacLennan, both Tiree islanders, founded the festival in 2010 – as well as the steadily growing popularity of the event, and builds on a strong relationship between the festival organisers and CalMac.

“Tiree Music Festival was a real nugget of an event which began in 2010 and has been a success ever since,” said Caledonian MacBrayne’s Head of Marketing, Peter Griffiths. “We have been proudly supporting the event since the beginning and, as it has grown from just 600 festival goers in year one to a sell-out 1700 now, so too has the need for an army of volunteers.

“We have been in a position to offer a little more to help the organisers support their volunteers and have been glad to do so. Support to our communities is important to us and, this year alone, we will lend a hand to more than 100 events across our network.

“Tiree Music Festival is also an important one for us, as it is the stage for one of the winners of our annual music competition CalMac Culture Music and this time it will be Jamie McGeechan from Ayr, known as Little Fire. Jamie impressed selectors at the competition finals in King Tut’s in Glasgow so much that he actually won two of the available five gig slot prizes – a first for the CalMac Culture Music competition. It should be a great treat for the crowds.”

Stewart MacLennan, Tiree Music Festival Director, said: “We would like to thank Calmac for their sponsorship over the years, as the festival has grown both in size and duration over the past six years their support has been immeasurable.

“We are delighted that they have been able to offer additional sponsorship this year which will be used to reduce the costs of our much needed volunteers travel expenses from Oban to the island.

“2015 is set to be our best yet with plenty of local foodie produce, family fun and a stellar line up including The Fratellis, Funbox, Skerryvore, Manran and Calmac Culture Music winner Little Fire to name a few.”
Gruffalo meets ‘Europe’s mightiest conifer’ at the first official trail in ScotlandGruffalo meets ‘Europe’s mightiest conifer’ at the first official trail in Scotland
Added: 01 Jun 2015
50 miles north-west of Glasgow, The Gruffalo Trail is now open for children of all ages to enjoy within Ardkinglas Woodland Garden, Cairndow, Argyll. After a five minute walk from the car park, a metalwork sculpture of the mouse greets visitors at the start of the trail, where you can pick up a map to guide you round. The trail follows a short route through a particularly atmospheric area of the woods, with views down to the river and with moss banks beneath mature trees. At the end of the path, near the lochan where water lilies flower in the summer, the Gruffalo sculpture is hidden, waiting to surprise the exploring children. Selected pages from the Scots version of the famous book are displayed at intervals along the way. ’The Ardkinglas woods have been explored by generations of children over the years and many of us have our favourite routes, associated with particular people or adventures,’ says David Sumsion, owner of Ardkinglas Estate. ’Having young children, the much loved Gruffalo story has been read over and over again. Last year I realized that this corner of the Woodland Garden could provide the perfect setting for the book’s characters.”

Ratho Byres Forge, Edinburgh, were commissioned to make the Mouse and Gruffalo figures in galvanized steel and have produced exceptional examples of the contemporary blacksmith’s art. This original approach works well alongside the metalwork gates and benches that the team at Ratho Byres Forge have previously designed for Ardkinglas. The lattice structure of the sculptures links in with the intertwining branches of the surrounding trees and magically captures the book’s principal characters while allowing the children’s imagination to bring them to life.

The project has been made possible by the enthusiastic participation of Magic Light Pictures, London, who licence the brand material and also the generous cooperation of Macmillan Children’s Books and Black & White Publishing Ltd.

Julia Donaldson, celebrated author of The Gruffalo, will be visiting Ardkinglas and the trail and will participate in an event to be organised in August 2015.Gruffalo meets ‘Europe’s mightiest conifer’ at the first official trail in Scotland

Added: 27 May 2015
Campbeltown Community Business (CCB) Ltd is holding an Open Day on Monday 8 June in the Red Cross Hall, Kirk Street, to share the latest updates about the refurbishment and redevelopment of Campbeltown Picture House.

The Open Day will run from 11am – 6pm; attendees are invited to drop in at any time to enjoy complimentary refreshments and find out more about the plans for Campbeltown Picture House. Design drawings and colour schemes will be on display, along with sample material from the Picture House’s internationally significant archive, information about fundraising and the timetable for the works.

There will be presentations at 12.15pm, 3pm and 5.15pm, lasting approximately 30 minutes, when the Project Team (David Mayo, Project Director, Ron Inglis, Project Manager, Stefanie Fischer from Burrell, Foley, Fischer LLP Architects and Rob Arthur from Aurora Leisure will provide more detail about the exciting plans to transform Campbeltown’s magnificent historic cinema into a cultural hub of international standard.

All welcome, no need to book, just turn up.
 Kyles Festival celebrates Argyll’s Secret Coast
Added: 27 May 2015
The 2015 Kyles Festival is set to be the biggest and best yet, with a week-long feast of live music, art,
walking, drama, nature, wildlife, fishing, sailing, crafts, Scottish coastal rowing, food and drink and

Taking place from 1 to 7 June, the festival is a celebration of everything that’s great about Argyll’s
Secret Coast. The mountains, forests and sea lochs of this beautiful corner of the West Coast of
Scotland – only two hours from Glasgow - provide an unbeatable setting for a range of unique
events and activities.

Argyll’s Secret Coast is bordered by Loch Fyne and the Kyles of Bute and water-based fun is a big part
of the festival. Tighnabruaich Sailing School will be celebrating its 50th anniversary with sailing
lessons and a barbecue and a fireworks display on the
 New aircraft officially unveiled for routes to Campbeltown, Tiree and Barra.
Added: 18 May 2015
The two new planes that will operate on the Scottish Government’s Public Service Obligation (PSO) routes have been officially unveiled by Minister for Transport and Islands, Derek Mackay.

The Twin Otter DHC6-400 aircraft will be used on the routes from Glasgow to Campbeltown, Tiree and Barra.
The 19-seat twin engine planes were manufactured by Viking Air Limited at the company’s base in Vancouver, Canada. They will now begin the certification process, before entering service later this summer.

Speaking at Glasgow Airport this morning, Mr Mackay said:
“I’m delighted to officially unveil these new planes, which are moving ever closer to entering service on our PSO routes to Campbeltown, Tiree and Barra.

“The aircraft will come as a welcome sight to the remote communities that rely on these services to keep them connected.

“The flights transport people and goods, playing a crucial role for service industries, fisheries and agriculture. Direct air links also enable visitors to reach the islands easily, boosting local tourism. The new planes mean our PSO routes will continue to be reliable and attractive to travellers.

“The purchase of our own aircraft will encourage more competition for the next contract to operate the PSO routes. That contract has been enhanced, with more flights and better timings to offer local residents and businesses, as well as tourists, an improved service.

“The next stage in the process is for the planes to go through the certification process so the crews can familiarise themselves with them.

“I look forward to seeing the planes take off in full service later this summer.”

Inglis Lyon, Managing Director of Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL), said:

"We are delighted that these new purpose built aircraft are now ready to serve the communities of Barra, Campbeltown and Tiree. These new aircraft represent a significant public investment in these lifeline routes and in the communities they serve.

“With their vibrant livery, these aircraft serve as a reminder of the important role that aviation plays in supporting social and economic development across regional Scotland and we look forward to working with the new operator to ensure these routes continue to go from strength to strength.”
Destination Argyll and the Isles for tourism leadersDestination Argyll and the Isles for tourism leaders
Added: 14 May 2015
The body which oversees the tourism industry in Argyll and the Isles has today, Thursday 14 May, seen four of its directors and the Development Manager receive certificates at a ceremony in Edinburgh Napier University.

Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative’s (AITC) directors Gavin Dick (Chair), Calum Ross (Vice Chair), Niall Macalister Hall and David Currie, together with Development Manager Carron Tobin have successfully completed the Edinburgh Napier University Business School Executive Certificate Programme for Destination Leaders. Commercial Director of Caledonian MacBrayne Cathy Craig and Senior Development Manager for Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) Steven Dott joined the AITC group to make up the Argyll and Isles cohort.

The six month course, which was completed in the group’s own time, ran between October 2014 and April 2015. It saw the group spend 12 days, including five days of workshops, exploring destination development. Subjects studied included: marketing and promotion; the customer journey; sustainability; influencing policy agendas and the digital economy. The group learned from an impressive roll of visiting international experts in destination development including the Head of Vienna Tourism, the Chief Executive of Destination Melbourne and Associate Dean of Hong Kong Polytechnic University. The course fee was funded through additional support from HIE, AITC and individual grants from Skills Development Scotland along with individual financial input from each member of the group.

One of the key elements of the course was the completion of a team project. The Argyll and the Isles cohort formed two teams and developed two associated projects. One project relates to developing tourism at a host community level and the other enhances the ability for businesses to collaborate in a disparate rural area. Both projects have now presented to HIE and potential for development is being considered.

AITC Chair Gavin Dick was delighted with the success of the Argyll and Isles team saying: “I’d like to congratulate my colleagues on their success and also thank them for all their hard work over the last six months. Tourism is everyone’s business and it’s vital to the region’s economy. We know we have a world class product to offer visitors, but we have to ensure that we, the industry leaders, are properly equipped to compete in an ever changing market.

“It is our goal to deliver a sustainable economic tourism industry which celebrates our history and heritage but also embraces the new ‘tourist’ who is much more informed and knowledgeable. The Destination Leaders course gave us the tools to develop additional skillsets and new networks which will help inform our decision making process. It is now up to us to drive forward and deliver our tourism strategy across the Argyll and Isles region.”

Partnership working was one of the most important elements of the course for Caledonian MacBrayne’s Commercial Director Cathy Craig who said: ’I was delighted to take part in the Edinburgh Napier course with my colleagues at AITC. Understanding ways in which CalMac can work more collaboratively with destination development organisations has been as beneficial as the course content itself. We now have some clear outcomes to implement which will continue to grow visitors to Argyll and the isles.’

Chris Taylor, head of tourism and food and drink at HIE, added: “This is an exciting achievement for AITC. The programme has provided a valuable insight into tourism opportunities for the participants, and also led to the team developing two new projects which have real potential to benefit the tourism industry directly. We look forward to continuing to work with this innovative and ambitious organisation as it works towards sustainable tourism growth in Argyll and the Isles.”
Minister Gives Pulpit BlessingMinister Gives Pulpit Blessing
Added: 11 May 2015
Transport Minister Derek Mackay gave the thumbs up today for the newly opened £9.2 million Pulpit Rock road scheme on Loch Lomondside, finally removing traffic lights on this section of the A82 for the first time in over thirty years.
The Minister said the new viaduct which now carries traffic over the shore of Loch Lomond was a remarkable engineering achievement.
Mr Mackay said:

“The A82 is not only a vital lifeline for businesses and local communities but a very popular route for visitors to Scotland, and it’s why we have pumped £57 million into the road’s upgrade and maintenance since 2007.

“Our multi-million schemes are improving journeys and the new viaduct at Pulpit Rock now takes traffic over Loch Lomond’s shoreline is both breathtaking and a significant engineering achievement. The viaduct enables the road to be widened to two way traffic and for traffic signals which have been there for over thirty years, to be removed and will be welcomed by local communities and road users.
“Elsewhere the new £5 million bypass at Crianlarich which opened a few months ago, is also proving effective in diverting traffic away from the town, particularly strategic traffic needing to avoid the low rail bridge.

“We are also taking forward work to improve the A82 between Tarbet and Inverarnan. This ten mile stretch of road which hugs Loch Lomond’s shoreline will be a challenge as we must strike a fine balance in seeking to meet the varying needs of road users and being sensitive to the world-renowned scenic beauty of the area. Design plans are expected to be published for the scheme this year.

“The £1.2 million Glen Gloy improvement works to realign the road are expected to finish this month, and other schemes on the A82 worth £1.7 million are underway from Stoneymollan in the south to Fort Augustus in the north – all underlining our commitment to this iconic route.”

Renewables grant boost for MACC Renewables grant boost for MACC
Added: 06 May 2015
A recent application by Machrihanish Airbase Community Company for a CARES Start-up Grant has been successful. The company has been awarded £9,400 by the Local Energy Scotland led scheme to carry out a pre-feasibility study which will examine all forms of renewable power.

SgurrEnergy, a leading renewable energy consultancy, has been appointed to advise on the project following a competitive tendering process. Providing consultancy services in onshore and offshore wind, solar, wave & tidal and hydro projects, SgurrEnergy’s final report will identify the best options available to MACC in maximising the renewable potential on site.

The good news follows shortly after the former RAF airbase narrowly missed out on the Local Energy Challenge Fund in March.

MACC Chairman, Tom Millar said: ‘Huge potential for renewable development lies in the infrastructure of our site. We have received a great deal of interest from industry leaders in solar, biomass and wind. The award from Local Energy Scotland and the CARES grant will allow us to carefully consider the best course of action for the benefit of the site, our tenants and the wider community.’

SgurrEnergy’s community renewables manager, Fergus Tickell, said: “We are delighted to be working with MACC during the feasibility phase of this sustainability project. The introduction of renewable energy on this unique site will not only contribute to the community company’s economic and environmental objectives, but could also provide important benefits for the wider local community.”

CIE Tours International - UK Awards of ExcellenceCIE Tours International - UK Awards of Excellence
Added: 27 Apr 2015
Argyll and the Isles winners Inveraray Castle, Mount Stuart and Iona Abbey received awards at a reception in Aberdeen today, (Thursday 23rd April) to mark CIE Tour International’s UK Awards of Excellence, Brian Stack, Managing Director of CIE Tours International, will present awards to 50 hotels and visitor attractions from throughout the UK.

The CIE Awards are selected according to feedback from just under 14,000 customers on around 300 providers of accommodation, dining, tours and attractions from throughout the UK, with merit awards being given to all venues achieving an average of over 90% in customer satisfaction. Seven overall category winners will also be announced. (See below for full list)

CIE Tours International is one of Ireland’s leading in-bound tour operators, having over the course of its history, brought more than three million visitors from North America to tour Ireland.

Over recent years it has been expanding its offer to include Scotland and the rest of the UK, with this area of its business growing by 25% last year. In 2014, the Company brought almost 14,000 visitors to the UK, accounting for 90,000 bed nights.

Three years ago, the company launched its UK awards, 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 doubled.

Brian Stack, Managing Director of CIE Tours International commented: “Our Awards are well recognised and hugely respected in Ireland and it is gratifying to see that the same has happened so quickly in the UK. Our visitors from North America are accustomed to very high levels of service in hospitality and to achieve an above 90% rating from them is very meaningful. The rise in standards in only three years in our UK providers is remarkable and it proves that people’s efforts in striving for high standards pays off.”
As a result, CIE has introduced its “gold” award that recognises the best supplier in seven categories including Best Overall Hotel and Best Overall Tour Feature.

The Company, which was named Scotland’s Heritage Operator of the year by VisitScotland in 2013 and 2014, is working with around 300 UK.

CIE’s sales growth in its UK tours last year is partially attributed to Homecoming Scotland, which was a significant draw for its customers and the Company believes that major events like the Ryder Cup in 2014 will further drive sales.

“Our customers respond well to watching major events on TV like the Ryder Cup, which really highlight a destination’s beauty and heritage and in our experience, encourages them to consider it for their next long haul vacation,” continued Brian Stack.

However Mr Stack warned that lack of reasonably priced hotel rooms in Edinburgh and Glasgow is having an impact on the Company’s ability to provide competitively priced tours.

“Our growth in Scotland has slowed since last year, and we believe that the cost issue with hotels, particularly in Glasgow and Edinburgh, is impacting negatively on demand” concluded Mr Stack.

For more information please contact Ilya Scott, Real PR on 07799 416476 or

Photo shows Jane Young of Inveraray Castle receiving their award.

Best Overall Hotel Macdonald Windsor Hotel
Best Overall Hotel Accommodation Apex International Hotel
Best Overall Hotel Service & Hospitality Marriott Dalmahoy Hotel
Best Overall Event Dinner / Entertainment Cardiff Castle
Best Overall Tour Feature Leault Farm
Best Overall Visit Glamis Castle
Best Overall Walking Tour Windsor Tourist Guides Ltd.

Award of Excellence - Hotels
7 Caledonian by Waldorf Astoria
Mar Hall
Mercure London Bridge Hotel
Nevis Bank
Newton Hotel
Norton House
Norwood Hall
Radisson Blu Edinburgh Hotel

Award of Excellence - Attractions
35 Abbotsford House
Alnwick Castle
Balmoral Castle
Cardiff Castle
Castle Howard
Crathes Castle
Culloden Visitor Centre
Dunrobin Castle
Dunvegan Castle
Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Eilean Donan Castle
Harlech Castle
Inveraray Castle
Inverewe Gardens
Iona Abbey
Italian Chapel
Mount Stuart
National Slate Museum
Pembroke Castle
Ring of Brodgar
Roman Baths
Skara Brae
St David’s Cathedral
St Magnus Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral
The Alnwick Garden
The Glenlivet
Tintern Abbey
Tower of London
Urquhart Castle
Windsor Castle
York Minster
International buyers put Argyll and the Isles on their itinerary International buyers put Argyll and the Isles on their itinerary
Added: 23 Apr 2015
Hundreds of the world’s top tourism companies have just added Argyll and the Isles to their tourism itineraries.

Scotland’s showcase tourism event – the two day VisitScotland expo, held this year in Aberdeen – finished today, and all paths led to Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative’s (AITC) stand.

VisitScotland expo is open to buyers from all sectors of the tourism industry and all corners of the globe. This year it also attracted buyers who were attending expo for the first time, and it was against this backdrop that AITC chose to launch their new touch screen kiosks which will be rolled out across the region this year.

AITC is no stranger to innovation and these new kiosks will add another dimension to the tourism experience in Argyll and the Isles. At the heart of the unit lies bespoke itinerary planner software which will help you plan your day, journey or next adventure. Use the touch screen to explore the interactive map and put everything you’re interested in into your ‘basket’. The unit then generates an itinerary for you which is emailed to your phone or tablet for you to use when you’re on the move. With connectivity often an issue in the region these kiosks are an ideal way of getting the most out of every day of your holiday.

If the feedback from visitors to the stand is anything to go by the kiosks are going to be a big hit this season with people being able to find attractions and events at the touch of a screen.

AITC chair Gavin Dick was delighted with the two day event saying: “This is the fourth year running that we’ve exhibited at expo and this year has been especially busy on our stand!

“As well as launching our fabulous new kiosks we also launched another two leaflets in our Argyll and Isles branded suite. Glorious Gardens and Food and Drink join the existing 16 titles and are available in hard copy, across Scotland, and online on the Explore Argyll website.

“Of course nothing beats a visit to Argyll and the Isles but we’ve found our suite of leaflets invaluable in whetting the appetite of potential visitors. I’m delighted to add these two new titles which almost flew off the stand over the last two days! I’m confident that Argyll and the Isles is firmly on the itineraries of many of the expo visitors and I’m looking forward to hearing about their adventures in our wonderful region this summer.”

Standing still isn’t an option for AITC.

“We are competing against the rest of Scotland, and it is up to us as the voice of tourism in the region to attract visitors, so we can’t be complacent,” Gavin said.

“We continue to work for our members to ensure we are doing our level best to promote the region as a world class visitor destination. Events such as expo also give us an opportunity to listen to potential visitors and to make sure that they have what they want when they visit. We want Argyll and the Isles to be a great place to visit and do business with and we know that our new kiosks are just another way of providing a top quality visitor experience.

“It’s been a great couple of days and we’re now gearing up for what we hope will be a bumper tourist season.”
Put Argyll and the Isles on your itinerary! Put Argyll and the Isles on your itinerary!
Added: 20 Apr 2015
Visitors to this year’s VisitScotland expo will be among the first in the country to book activities and plan their journey to Argyll as Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) launch their revolutionary new touch screen kiosks.

Eight kiosks will be rolled out to locations across the region in time for summer, but the very first kiosk will be in place at the AITC stand in Aberdeen. At the heart of each kiosk lies bespoke itinerary planner software which helps you plan your day, journey or next adventure. Use the touch screen to explore the interactive map and put everything you’re interested in into your virtual ‘basket’. The kiosk will then generate an itinerary, unique to you, directly to your mobile device or tablet for your use when you are out and about.

AITC Chair Gavin Dick said the kiosks were an “exciting development” for tourism in the region saying: “Argyll and the Isles is the second biggest geographical region in Scotland. As well as covering a vast mainland area we have 23 inhabited islands, all offering a huge number of activities and things to do. Add the many festivals and celebrations we host and you will begin to appreciate just what an important role these kiosks will play in putting together the perfect way to spend your holiday.”

As well as launching the new kiosks AITC also unveiled another two leaflets to the Argyll and Isles branded suite which was launched at last year’s expo in Glasgow. Glorious Gardens and Food and Drink join the 16 titles which are available both in hard copy, and online on the Explore Argyll website.

“Our suite of leaflets has become a key part in getting the Argyll and Isles message out nationwide,” Gavin said, “With 2015 being Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink and our many fabulous gardens which are open to the public coming into bloom, I am sure these leaflets will prove to be extremely popular this year.

“We are very much looking forward to our trip to Aberdeen this week, and introducing Argyll and the Isles to a new audience.”

Anyone interested in finding out more about AITC and its work can visit its website at or email .
 Five new directors strengthen Campbeltown Community Business Ltd Board
Added: 15 Apr 2015
Campbeltown Community Business Ltd is very pleased to announce that five new directors were co-opted at their Board Meeting held last night, Monday, 13th April 2015. Two months ago an appeal for new directors was made and 10 notes of interest were received. Very specific skills were sought, namely experience in cinema/film/public entertainment, legal, financial and heritage. We also wanted a more balanced gender distribution and thought it important that we look for some candidates with relevant current experience in the industry on a national, even international basis. 7 applications were received and following a formal selection procedure, 5 were selected.

They are Fiona Gillies of Tayinloan, Malcolm MacMillan of Bishopton and Clachan, Elaine McChesney from Campbeltown, Campbell Read also from Campbeltown and Lesley Anne Rose from Edinburgh. Their skills and experience cover a wide range of competencies and the Board is thrilled to have attracted such a strong team to help deliver The Centenary Project for The Picture House and to ensure a sustainable future for this Community Business.

Fiona is a local girl, born and bred, having lived all over the peninsula but now restoring a cottage south of Tayinloan. She grew up regularly visiting The Picture House with her friends and is now a Chartered Surveyor, based in the town but travelling all over Argyll. She has extensive knowledge of buildings and appreciates the immeasurable value of the cinema.

Malcolm is a very experienced marketing professional, now specialising in the cinema sector, helping clients develop online marketing strategies and maximising sales via web and mobile. Living near Glasgow, he has family roots in Argyll and a cottage in Clachan. He has international connections in the world of film.

Elaine has recently moved to Campbeltown to become Curator of Social History and Fine Art at the Campbeltown Museum. But her previous experience both in Scotland and Canada covers filmmaking, writing, film festival organisation, heritage experience as a curator and she is now also an apprentice storyteller.

Campbell is a partner at Stewart Balfour and Sutherland, Solicitors, lives in Campbeltown and has a young family. He is very active in many other community organisations, particularly those relating to sports.

Lesley Anne Rose lives in Edinburgh, is an arts professional with experience in theatre and cinema and works throughout Scotland and the north of England, thus bringing CCB a more national perspective. She has worked with the Stellar Quines Theatre Company, Aberdeen Performing Arts, Northern Film & Media and The Dukes Cinema in Lancaster. She produced the first 3D digital recording of a Scottish Theatre company’s performance specifically for screening in cinemas.

These five, added to the existing team, now provide a balanced group of 12 to best ensure that The Centenary Project is successfully delivered and a sustainable cinema maintained in the town.
All trails lead to Balloch for route managersAll trails lead to Balloch for route managers
Added: 07 Apr 2015
The Route managers of Scotlands’ Great Trails held their regular meeting at the National Park’s Carrochan HQ building in Balloch on Wednesday 1st April. The meeting heard reports about progress with many of the trails including Argyll and Bute’s Three Lochs and Cowal Ways. The new John Muir coast to coast route which links Helensburgh to Dunbar was also discussed and in the afternoon, to inspect a new path which has recently been completed near Goukhill, the managers walked up the Stoneymollan road which forms part of the Three Lochs and John Muir Ways between Balloch and Helensburgh.

Scotland’s Great Trails (SGTs) are nationally promoted trails for people-powered journeys. Each is distinctively waymarked, largely off-road and has a range of visitor services. At least 25 miles in length, they are suitable for multi-day outings as well as day trips. Collectively the 26 different routes provide over 1700 miles of well managed paths from the Borders to the Highlands. The routes offer great opportunities to explore the best of Scotland’s nature and landscapes and to experience the country’s amazing history and culture.

The picture shows the managers assembled at the Stoneymollan Road.
Tourism summit success Tourism summit success
Added: 17 Mar 2015
The fourth Argyll and the Isles tourism summit has been hailed a ‘major success’ by organisers and attendees alike.

The event, delivered by Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) with support from VisitScotland, was held at the Lochs and Glens Ardgartan Hotel just outside Arrochar today.

It saw delegates from across the area’s tourism sector gather together to hear how they plan - both individually and collectively - to encourage more visitors to come to Argyll and the Isles in the future, for more time, to do more activities and sightseeing.

Tonight, in a further boost for tourism, the first meeting of the newly convened Argyll and Bute Economic Forum will take place – a public, private and voluntary sector partnership chaired by Chairman of Sky Nicholas Ferguson CBE, tasked with driving forward economic change in the area. Mr Ferguson has identified the tourism sector as offering real opportunities for growth and has asked AITC to contribute to the process.

The AITC representative on that forum is Iain Jurgensen, general manager at Portavadie.

“Today’s summit was the perfect precursor to the inaugural meeting of the Economic Forum,” he said. “It has given me a thorough, wide-ranging and up to date snapshot of where we are in terms of Argyll and the Isles’ tourism sector – information which I can feed into the new body.

“We welcomed a broad cross section of this region’s tourism-related businesses to Ardgartan this morning, from hoteliers and transport operators to adventure activity providers and retailers.

“The message from the vast majority was that while the tourism sector is an increasingly significant contributor to the local economy, there is almost limitless potential to develop and grow it further provided we continue to ensure that we in Argyll and the Isles are providing what today’s visitor market is looking for.”

AITC Chair Gavin Dick explained how the theme – to see ourselves as others see us – focused delegates’ minds on the demands of today’s actual and potential visitors and how these can best be met.

“We are very fortunate to boast some of the most spectacular visitor experiences anywhere in the country whether they be natural (such as our islands, beaches, mountains and scenery), man-made (such as our castles, distilleries and golf courses) or a combination of the two, such as our adventure tourism businesses, fantastic hotels and restaurants offering top quality locally-sourced food and celebrated wildlife tourism scene,” he said.

“One of the strongest messages from today’s summit was that while each business obviously has it’s own specialities and particular interests, there’s a determination to work together to ensure that Argyll and the Isles as a whole continues to act as a standard bearer for tourism destinations not just in the UK, but internationally.

“The AITC board would like to thank all those who took the trouble to come along today and contribute to what was an extremely valuable exercise. The feedback we’ve had so far has been very positive, and we look forward to progressing some of the comments and suggestions received over the next few weeks and months.”

Regional Director David Adams McGilp said, “I was delighted that this year’s Tourism Summit was so well attended by such a wide range of tourism, hospitality and leisure businesses from throughout Argyll & The Isles. It has been a very constructive event which has enabled extremely productive discussions and idea-sharing to take place on how local businesses can join forces and work in partnership more effectively – not only to their mutual benefit but to the considerable benefit of the region’s economy – to attract more visitors and deliver an outstanding visitor experience.”

Among the contributors to today’s summit were VisitScotland, Calmac, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, McKinlay Kidd, Wilderness Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance and of course our hosts Lochs and Glens Holidays.
Argyll and the Isles gears up for annual tourism summit Argyll and the Isles gears up for annual tourism summit
Added: 09 Mar 2015
Major players in Argyll and the Isles’ rapidly expanding tourism sector are preparing to attend the region’s annual tourism summit next week.

The event, organised by Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) with support from VisitScotland, will be held at one of the area’s newest and most highly regarded venues – Lochs and Glens Ardgartan Hotel just outside Arrochar.

The summit gives local tourism businesses the opportunity not just to meet each other and discuss shared issues of interest or concern, but also to hear from key tourism operators regarding their experiences of doing business in Argyll and the Isles, and their plans for expanding that business in the future.

Among the speakers will be a representative of VisitScotland, who will present recently published research into rapidly changing visitor behaviours, designed to help local businesses understand what today’s tourists are looking for and how best to tap into the demand.

Ferry operator Calmac will also be represented, and will look in particular at the exciting dynamics of such changing behaviours and how Argyll and the Isles might start tapping into a younger visitor market.

Other high profile speakers include Gordon Watson, the newly appointed CEO at Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, Robert Kidd of Glasgow-based holiday organiser McKinlay Kidd, Stef Lauer of Wilderness Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance CEO Marc Crothal and Neil Wells, managing director of coach and hotel giant Lochs and Glens Holidays, which owns the Ardgartan Hotel.

AITC chair Gavin Dick said Ardgartan was a fitting venue for what will be the fourth summit.

“The Ardgartan Hotel epitomises what Argyll and the Isles is all about – providing fantastic accommodation and service in an area of outstanding natural beauty,” he added.

“This event is inked into the calendars of tourism-related businesses across the region as it provides a vital snapshot of where the local tourism sector is at the moment and where it should be aiming to be in the future.

“We will be exploring how this wonderful region is marketed and promoted not just by individual businesses, local marketing groups and AITC, but also by the many operators who bring visitors to our doorsteps.

“Delegates will also learn more about AITC’s exciting Argyll Ambassadors initiative, the new routeplanner software we’re developing and the Argyll and the Isles Tourism Barometer as well as getting an overview of the AITC development agent activity which is taking place across the region.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for tourism-reliant business operators to look at what others are doing and whether there are ways in which they can improve what they’re offering or how they’re offering it.

“The feedback on our previous summits has been extremely positive, and I’m confident that those taking part will be equally impressed this year.

“This is an exciting time for the local tourism sector, and we’re hoping for a bumper holiday season in 2015. I look forward to welcoming our delegates to Ardgartan next week and hearing first-hand how their preparations are going.”

VisitScotland Regional Director, David Adams McGilp said: “This year’s Tourism Summit promises some focused discussion on visitors and how the Argyll & the Isles experience meets their expectations and demands.

“Even in the last year the area has seen increased consumer interest in the natural environment, marine and coastal tourism, wildlife on land and sea, outdoor activities and the cultural elements of the destination, including local food and drink – which we’re celebrating this year, Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink.

“I would encourage anyone involved in tourism, recreation and leisure to attend next week’s event in Ardgartan – it could lead to new ways of doing things, and new partnerships to help deliver exceptional holiday experiences.”

Anyone interested in attending the summit who has not yet booked a place should visit the website at

Places for the event, which runs from 10.30m-4pm on Tuesday March 17, cost £36 each. The price includes a locally-sourced lunch provided by Food from Argyll to celebrate Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink.

There is also a pre-summit six course tasting dinner the night before at Inveraray’s Loch Fyne Spa Hotel, organised by the HIT Oyster Club. Tickets can be booked separately by visiting Bus transport will be provided to the summit and back to Inveraray the following day.
Argyll and the Isles poised to attract new business at UK’s premier tourism eventArgyll and the Isles poised to attract new business at UK’s premier tourism event
Added: 06 Mar 2015
Thousands of the UK’s top tourism firms are about to find out more about why Argyll and the Isles is one of the country’s top visitor destinations.

Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) is delighted to be joining VisitScotland and other VisitScotland stand partners, including CalMac, at next week’s Best of Britain and Ireland (BoBI) event at Birmingham’s NEC.

BoBI is widely regarded as the country’s leading event for the domestic tourism and venues industry, which is worth some £127 billion annually. And AITC is now looking forward to another two days of pre-booked appointments aimed at attracting more of that money to businesses and communities in Argyll and the Isles.

There will be no shortage of potential new business opportunities, with an estimated 3,000+ VIP buyers and trade visitors seeing what the 300 exhibitors have to offer.

AITC chair Gavin Dick is confident that Argyll and the Isles has something special to offer visitors.

“Trade shows provide unrivalled opportunities for us to showcase what we have to offer, and this is the biggest such event in the UK calendar,” he said.

“Thousands of the country’s most influential tourism operators – as well as some international players - are going to be there, all on the lookout for new and exciting destinations. We’re confident that Argyll and the Isles is going to tick a lot of their boxes.”

Gavin added that with the wealth of opportunities on offer in Argyll and the Isles, visitors couldn’t fail to be impressed.

“Tourism is a key sector in Argyll and the Isles,” he said. “Our members put an enormous amount of work into ensuring we remain at the forefront of Scotland’s tourism industry, and those efforts – coupled with our incredible natural environment – together make this region one of the best visitor destinations in the country.

“Visitors are going to find out that Argyll and the Isles has something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for adventure, beaches, castles, distilleries, locally-produced food, islands, scenery, walking, golf, history or any one of countless other attractions – we are fortunate enough to have it all.

“The potential impact of successful trade shows such as BoBI on the local economy is enormous, so we’re working flat out to make sure our exhibit does justice to the wonderful region we represent. Come next week, we’ll be ready to take maximum advantage of any potential new opportunities coming our way.”

AITC, which was set up in 2012, provides a region-wide approach to raising awareness of Argyll and the Isles as a high quality visitor destination.

The organisation brings eight distinct areas - Mull, Iona, Tiree and Coll; Islay, Jura and Colonsay; Oban and Lorn; Kintyre and Gigha; Inveraray, Knapdale, Kilmartin and Crinan; Bute; Dunoon and Cowal; and Helensburgh, Loch Lomond and Clyde Sealochs – together under one regional umbrella.

BoBI takes place on March 11 and 12 at Birmingham’s NEC. For more information on the event please go to
Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative attend Scottish Tourism Week Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative attend Scottish Tourism Week
Added: 04 Mar 2015
The first week of March marks Scottish Tourism Week and representatives of Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) will join around 10,000 delegates, exhibitors and other tourism professionals in Glasgow for the national conference organised by the Scottish Tourism Alliance.

Fresh from attending Visit Britain’s first Explore GB event in Ascot last week, the team is looking forward to the Signature Programme which runs from 3 – 5 March and comprises six must attend events including the two day conference. Speakers include the Deputy First Minister John Swinney and VisitScotland Chief Executive Dr Mike Cantlay OBE who was recently quoted as saying, ‘wherever you work, whatever you do as a career or indeed hobby, in all probability you will, in some small or large way, be part of the £11 billion pound tourism industry.’

But of course the focus of this, the tenth tourism week, will be on Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink - a theme almost made for Argyll and the Isles. As well as our world famous seafood and game we are home to 14 globally recognised distilleries along our coastline. It’s no exaggeration to say that our locally sourced produce is second to none.

Speaking on day one of the conference in Glasgow’s Crowne Plaza, AITC Chair Gavin Dick highlighted the significance of Scottish Tourism Week saying: “Scottish Tourism Week has become one of the most important events on the tourism calendar. It brings the whole industry together to focus, at the start of the season, on the key messages from our national industry leaders. We know that tourism is everyone’s business, and here in Argyll and the Isles, we are passionate about getting that message out.

“The team has just come back from two days at Explore GB where they received a phenomenal response from both home and abroad. Across the course of two days, our stand hosted over 50 interviews. The buzz generated by our region attracted more than home grown interest with international appointments coming from destinations as diverse as New Zealand, Brazil, Australia, China, Japan and Russia. This is hugely encouraging, not only for regional tourism, but for national tourism, as we can demonstrate Argyll and the Isles Tourism is really making a difference.

“We are now just two weeks away from our own tourism summit, which will be held on 17 March at Lochs and Glens Hotel, Ardgartan, and we are looking forward to passing on this positive message.”

Gavin stressed that AITC has the support of all the major players in the area which – in the case of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Argyll and Bute Council (ABC) includes major funding packages.

“There is no better vote of confidence in what we’re doing and the direction we’re travelling than major public sector organisations investing in our work, both financially and in various other ways,” he added.

“We’re delighted to work in close partnership with HIE and ABC, as well other major contributors to the area’s success such as Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission Scotland, VisitScotland and Caledonian McBrayne.

“Together, we are committed to ensuring that Argyll and the Isles continues to set the benchmark to which other tourist destinations can only aspire. We are already one of the brightest jewels in the UK’s tourism crown, and we are all working extremely hard to ensure our star continues to rise both at home and abroad.”

There’s still time to book your place for the fourth AITC tourism summit, do it online at
 Industry backs government’s spaceport plans
Added: 03 Mar 2015

Plans for Britain to be home of Europe’s first spaceport moved a step closer today, (3 March 2015).

Publishing the outcome of a 3 month consultation with a range of interested parties, the government confirmed widespread support for its plans. This paves the way towards making commercial spaceflight operations in the UK a reality.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) shortlisted a number of possible locations for the spaceport in July 2014 and this has today been updated. The shortlisted sites are now Campbeltown, Glasgow Prestwick and Stornoway in Scotland, as well as Newquay in England and Llanbedr in Wales. RAF Leuchars was also confirmed as a potential temporary facility.

The government has ruled out 2 airfields at RAF Lossiemouth and Kinloss Barracks for operational reasons, given their vital role in Defence. Other locations can still be submitted if operators believe they can fulfil the requirements.

Aviation minister Robert Goodwill said:

I want Britain to lead the way in commercial spaceflight. Establishing a spaceport will ensure we are at the forefront of this exciting new technology.

Today’s consultation response marks another step forward in our work to support this emerging industry, which will create jobs and drive economic growth.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

Paving the way for a national spaceport is one of our biggest science achievements in this parliament. It greatly underscores the work of our space innovation and growth strategy to position the UK as a world-leader in this exciting arena that is expected to be worth up to £400 billion a year to the global economy by 2030.

Launching satellites and operating commercial space flights from our shores was once only confined to the depths of science fiction, but with the results of this consultation we are one step closer to making this a very real ability in the near future.

Work to establish the feasibility of a UK spaceport began in 2012, when the Department for Transport and UK Space Agency asked the CAA to review the operational environment and regulations to allow spaceplanes to operate.

Last year, the government launched its space innovation and growth strategy 2014 to 2030, which set out the economic advantages of the UK becoming a European focal point for the pioneers of commercial spaceflights and scientific research.

The next step is for the DfT to develop a detailed technical specification of spaceport requirements, prior to inviting proposals. This is due to be published later this year.Plans for Britain to be home of Europe’s first spaceport moved a step closer today, (3 March 2015).Publishing the outcome of a 3 month consultation with a range of interested parties, the government confirmed widespread support for its plans. This paves the way towards making commercial spaceflight operations in the UK a reality.The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) shortlisted a number of possible locations for the spaceport in July 2014 and this has today been updated. The shortlisted sites are now Campbeltown, Glasgow Prestwick and Stornoway in Scotland, as well as Newquay in England and Llanbedr in Wales. RAF Leuchars was also confirmed as a potential temporary facility.The government has ruled out 2 airfields at RAF Lossiemouth and Kinloss Barracks for operational reasons, given their vital role in Defence. Other locations can still be submitted if operators believe they can fulfil the requirements.Aviation minister Robert Goodwill said:I want Britain to lead the way in commercial spaceflight. Establishing a spaceport will ensure we are at the forefront of this exciting new technology.Today’s consultation response marks another step forward in our work to support this emerging industry, which will create jobs and drive economic growth.Business Secretary Vince Cable said:Paving the way for a national spaceport is one of our biggest science achievements in this parliament. It greatly underscores the work of our space innovation and growth strategy to position the UK as a world-leader in this exciting arena that is expected to be worth up to £400 billion a year to the global economy by 2030.Launching satellites and operating commercial space flights from our shores was once only confined to the depths of science fiction, but with the results of this consultation we are one step closer to making this a very real ability in the near future.Work to establish the feasibility of a UK spaceport began in 2012, when the Department for Transport and UK Space Agency asked the CAA to review the operational environment and regulations to allow spaceplanes to operate.Last year, the government launched its space innovation and growth strategy 2014 to 2030, which set out the economic advantages of the UK becoming a European focal point for the pioneers of commercial spaceflights and scientific research.The next step is for the DfT to develop a detailed technical specification of spaceport requirements, prior to inviting proposals. This is due to be published later this year.
Added: 25 Feb 2015
Sail Scotland is celebrating Scotland’s Year of Food & Drink 2015 by offering free membership to the first 100 businesses who sign up for their new associate membership!

The national sailing and boating marketing organisation - Sail Scotland - has been working with food producers and businesses to celebrate Scotland’s Year of Food & Drink 2015 at Boat Show in the UK and Europe over the past few weeks.

The feedback has been incredible so they have decided to go one step further to celebrate Scotland’s Year of Food & Drink by launching a new associate membership scheme to link up sailing visitors with the wonderful things to do and places to eat around Scotland.

The first 100 businesses to signup will receive associate membership totally FREE FOR 6 MONTHS with no commitment. Simply visit the membership page on the Sail Scotland website, and signup for an Associate Membership by completing your details.

Sail Scotland Chief Executive, Daniel Steel, said: “We want as many great businesses as possible to be found quickly and easily by the tens of thousands of visitors coming to our website. So the Year of Food and Drink seemed like the perfect opportunity to give businesses a chance to get their business in front of the lucrative and growing sailing audience we reach.

We are not only limiting this to cafes and restaurants. Associate Membership is open to organisations who provide hospitality, activities and attractions, retail, and specialist services for sailing visitors. Typically this includes hotels, bars, cafes, restaurants, visitor attractions, activity providers, chandlers, general retailers, boat maintenance, etc.

This is a fantastic offer of free marketing so we would urge businesses to move fast, as it will be on a first come, first served basis.”

Businesses who sign up will be added to Sail Scotland’s interactive map, and once membership is confirmed you can create and control your own unique page on the Sail Scotland site – putting you in front of thousands of potential sailing visitors looking for great tastes and experiences when they sail Scotland.

So if you’re based on coastal Scotland and want the sailing community to come and visit, make sure you register today as this offer is only open for a limited time.

You can find out more about Sail Scotland - here - or contact Declan Rex, Marketing Executive for more details (07710392207).
Argyll and the Isles gets ready to meet the worldArgyll and the Isles gets ready to meet the world
Added: 24 Feb 2015
What’s got a longer coastline than France, 23 inhabited islands, world class food and drink, countless beaches, lochs, castles and mountains – and a reputation for being a fantastic place to visit?

Argyll and the Isles.

This week Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative’s (AITC) Development Manager Carron Tobin is heading to Ascot to promote our fantastic region to around 260 buyers from 40 countries at VisitBritains very first Explore GB (25 – 26 February). And it truly is an international affair as Carron’s diary already holds more than 30 appointments from countries as far apart as Canada, Japan and Russia, as well as some from closer to home. Carron will be joined on the stand by Kathryn McLaughlin who is representing Glorious Gardens of Argyll and Bute. And, as many of our best known gardens are about to come into bloom, this is the perfect time to give them an extra boost.

Explore GB is the first event on a very busy few weeks for AITC, next week they join tourism colleagues to attend the Scottish Tourism Alliance’s national conference in Glasgow. They will then head south of the border to the NEC in Birmingham to exhibit at Best of Britain and Ireland (BoBI) on 11 and 12 March. The fourth AITC summit will be held at Lochs and Glens Ardgartan Hotel on 17 March, and then the team will be back on the road, this time to Aberdeen, for VisitScotland Expo on 22 – 23 April.

This year, 2015, is Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink, and there’s no better time to sample Argyll and the Isles’ delights. The region boasts world famous seafood and game and is proud to have 14 globally recognised distilleries along its coastline. Whether you’re a food or whisky lover you’ll be in heaven with the range of locally sourced produce.

And, with its wealth of natural attractions, it’s no wonder that the area is rapidly cementing its status as one of the UK’s most exciting tourism destinations.

With the dynamic AITC at the helm, the local tourism sector promises to go from strength to strength.

AITC has already achieved much since its 2012 inception, and is constantly coming up with new schemes designed not only to ensure that as many people as possible experience what Argyll and the Isles has to offer, but also to ensure all visitors have a wonderful time while they’re here.

Recent initiatives include appointing seven Development Agents to work with local marketing groups and tourist associations in a bid to strengthen the region’s reputation as a tourism hot-spot.

AITC has also established a ‘Wild about Argyll’ mentoring scheme, designed to help local businesses make the most of the wild and wonderful area in which they operate.

The scheme is specifically targeted at wildlife and adventure tourism, which are both huge growth areas across the UK and which Argyll and the Isles is uniquely placed to tap into.

AITC chair Gavin Dick said: “Argyll and the Isles boasts some of the UK’s most breathtaking scenery and wildlife, which together offer the perfect platform for all sorts of outdoor activities.

“We of course also have countless other attractions and reasons to come and stay. Our diversity is undoubtedly one of our greatest assets.

“We are fortunate to represent a region which has something for everyone. Whether visitors are looking for castles, beaches, mountains, distilleries, islands, walking, adventure, locally-sourced food, scenery, golf, history or any one of countless other attractions - Argyll and The Isles has it all.”

Gavin stressed that AITC has the support of all the major players in the area which – in the case of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Argyll and Bute Council (ABC) includes major funding packages.

“There is no better vote of confidence in what we’re doing and the direction we’re travelling than major public sector organisations investing in our work, both financially and in various other ways,” he added.

“We’re delighted to work in close partnership with HIE and ABC, as well other major contributors to the area’s success such as Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission Scotland, VisitScotland and Caledonian McBrayne.

“Together, we are committed to ensuring that Argyll and the Isles continues to set the benchmark to which other tourist destinations can only aspire. We are already one of the brightest jewels in the UK’s tourism crown, and we are all working extremely hard to ensure our star continues to rise both at home and abroad.”

There’s still time to book your place for the fourth AITC tourism summit, do it online at

Still time to sign up for fourth Argyll and the Isles Tourism summitStill time to sign up for fourth Argyll and the Isles Tourism summit
Added: 22 Feb 2015
It’s just over three weeks until the fourth Argyll and the Isles Tourism summit but don’t worry, there’s still time to secure your place.

Due to take place at Lochs and Glens Ardgartan Hotel on Tuesday 17 March, the theme of our summit is ’to see ourselves as others see us’. It promises to be worthwhile event for anyone involved in tourism in Argyll and the Isles. Don’t miss this opportunity, book online today at

Online booking now live for fourth AITC tourism summitOnline booking now live for fourth AITC tourism summit
Added: 10 Feb 2015
Online booking for our fourth tourism summit on 17 March at Lochs and Glens Ardgartan Hotel is now open. Book early and make sure you secure your place.
  Dalriada Armada
Added: 08 Feb 2015
Go West with Confidence

CLYDE-BASED boat owners looking to extend their sailing horizons and explore more adventurous seas, are being invited to take part in a new ‘confidence builder’ flotilla event at the start of May.

Designed with lesser-experienced skippers and crew in mind, who have perhaps so far limited their range to day-sailing, the ‘Dalriada Armada’ three-day event will provide cruise-in-company, with sail coaching and mentoring before, during and after, across the sheltered waters of the Clyde to the more exposed Loch Fyne, tackle the Crinan Canal perhaps for the first time and enter the more challenging seas of the West Coast proper.

Shore-based fun is guaranteed, too, with evening meals and more at Tarbert, Crinan and Ardfern all included in the programme.

The Dalriada Armada is the result of a joint effort by Scotboats’ SmartBoating, the Crinan Canal area team at Scottish Canals, Tarbert Harbour Authority and Ardfern Yacht Centre.

Scotboats’ Barry Shafe explained: “Less-experienced sailors often set Loch Fyne as their westerly boundry, and even the most experienced owners on the Clyde can be nervous about taking an expensive yacht through the Canal for the first time. For many skippers, their confidence can lag behind their competence gained from traditional training. Confidence comes with practice and experience, so we aim to provide a structured and supported cruise out of your comfort zone, whilst also sampling some of the best of the region’s food and entertainment along the way to make the most of the early May holiday weekend.”

Day 1 – Saturday 2nd May
Morning departure from various marinas on the Clyde for evening arrival at the pretty Tarbert Harbour. Evening meal and traditional band at a local hotel in Tarbert..

Day 2 – Sunday 3rd May
Short sail from Tarbert to Ardrishaig, then transit the Crinan Canal with full assisted passage. Overnight at Crinan Basin and dine at the iconic Crinan Hotel, where spectacular food will be served in the hotel’s unique rooftop gallery.

Day 3 – Monday 4th May
Mini West Coast adventure from Crinan to an anchorage determined by wind and sea conditions, before heading up Loch Craignish to the naturally-sheltered marina at Ardfern, for a hog roast.

The cost is approximately £295 per boat (any length up to 45ft) plus £75 per adult for the meals at Tarbert, Crinan and Ardfern. The boat fee includes the Canal transit licence with assisted passage, 3 nights berthing at Tarbert, Crinan and Ardfern plus assisted passage planning before the event, daily skippers’ briefings and sail clinics throughout the weekend.

“We’ve secured the most favorable rates from the venues and our own organisations to offer a package that cannot be achieved by individual crews in terms of value or content on and off the water,” added Barry.

Joe Murphy, Waterways Manager at Scottish Canals and part of the Dalriada Project, added that ‘Dalriada’ represented the ancient kingdom in the Heart of Argyll, in which all the event destinations were located.

The ‘Dalriada Armada’ is limited to 20 boats, with bookings secured on a first come, first served basis.

Tarbert Harbour’s Donna Mallan told Yachting Life: “I visited the various marinas around the Clyde before Christmas and was taken by their enthusiasm to co-operate and encourage more sailing by their berthholders across to the West and beyond. We’ve conceived this activity so that any marina can be the starting point, and we’re inviting the marinas to ensure their berthholders are amongst the first to hear about it”.

Application forms are available online at or from Alec Howie on 01546 603210 or
 Historic Kilmun awarded Visit Scotland 4 Star Grade
Added: 06 Feb 2015
Historic Kilmun is delighted to announce that Visit Scotland have conducted a comprehensive Quality Assurance assessment of the newly opened Visitor Centre and renovated Argyll Mausoleum and have awarded a 4 Star Grade as a Historic Attraction. This places Historic Kilmun in an elite group of visitor attractions in Scotland and in Argyll; locally, Historic Kilmun joins Benmore Botanic Gardens in this exclusive group.

This award was given after extensive inspections and interviews by representatives of Visit Scotland; this award reflects not only the significance of the site, but also the careful renovation and conservation that has been carried out, and the quality of the visitor experience. This latter was based on the information provided, the layout and the quality of the guided tour on offer.

Visit Scotland encourages Historic Kilmun to use the award to maximum effect. Visit Scotland Quality Assurance schemes are highly regarded by consumers as a tool to assist in making decisions, and are a trusted source of information. The award will differentiate the attraction in the market place and provide customer reassurance as an official rating and accreditation by Scotland’s national tourism agency.

The Historic Kilmun site is currently closed for the winter season. It is planned to re-open for the summer schedule on Saturday 4 April. With the recent completion of the restoration of the Argyll Mausoleum on the Historic Kilmun site, all the components of the restored site will be available to visitors for the first time when the summer season commences. The Historic Kilmun visitor experience is supported and delivered by trained volunteer tour guides. We have opportunities for interested people to join as guides, either locally or from further afield, with a few hours to spend each week in this wonderful location. Volunteers are currently being recruited as guides for the new season. Full training will be provided; anyone interested in this opportunity is invited to contact Sue McKillop by e-mail at
Dunoon cooks sought for new TV showDunoon cooks sought for new TV show
Added: 04 Feb 2015
STV are making a new cookery programme, taking a celebrity down memory lane via the dishes of their childhood. We will be coming to Dunoon, so if you are a keen amateur cook with a talent for traditional recipes, we’d love to film you demonstrating your classic cuisine! If you fancy showing off your most treasured recipes on tv, please get in touch with me today – Vanda Kettelhut – or 0141 300 3539
Added: 27 Jan 2015
The programme is hotting up for the fourth Argyll and The Isles Tourism Summit on 17 March at Lochs and Glens Ardgartan Hotel on Loch Long with the theme being ‘to see ourselves as others see us’… More to follow on our speaker line up and workshop topics but for now this is a reminder to everyone about our partnership with the HIT Oyster Club and their six course tasting dinner on the 16th March at the Loch Fyne Spa Hotel in Inveraray – and specifically the early bird rate for over night accommodation at £35 – all as per our original announcement prior to Xmas (see link below)

This runs out at the end of the month (this weekend!) so if you are planning to come along and haven’t yet booked please do so in the next few days to secure this fantastic offer!


Also to register interest in the summit do email - The summit programme will be announced soon!
 Grand Tours of the Scottish Islands needs Islay information!
Added: 25 Jan 2015
The BBC documentary "Grand Tours of the Scottish Islands" is coming to Islay this spring to film for our new series. Our focus is contemporary island life and social history. I am very keen to make contact with local people who might be able to point me in the direction of interesting stories/events etc. Delighted to hear from one and all !
Contact Kathryn Ross ( at
 An additional £3 million is being invested, by the Scottish Government, in the A83 in the coming year.
Added: 14 Jan 2015
This further investment will be added to the £9 million that has already been spent around the Rest and Be Thankful in recent years to improve resilience and to help keep local communities connected in the event of landslides.

Transport Minister Derek Mackay made the announcement today (14 Jan) at the latest meeting of the A83 Task Force in Arrochar during an update on how work on the A83 Route Study is progressing.

The extra money will be used to take forward landslide mitigation work in Glen Kinglas and at Strone Point corner.

The Minister also asked for further work to be carried out into what extra measures could be used to ensure continuity of access to Argyll and Bute.

Mr Mackay said:
“The Scottish Government is firmly committed to mitigating the effects on landslides on the A83 and this further investment will allow us to take forward more work at the Rest and Be Thankful and at other areas prone to landslides.

“This is a vital route for communities in Argyll. We know how important it is that the road stays in operation to allow people to go about their daily lives and to allow the transfer of goods and services throughout the area.

“The most recent landslide events have shown us that we can keep Argyll open for business. The netting at the Rest and Be Thankful has prevented thousands of tonnes of rubble reaching the road and this has kept disruption to a minimum. The Old Military Road Diversion Route has shown it’s worth and brought time savings for the drivers who have made use of it.

“Our efforts to improve conditions along the length of the route are continuing with £32 million pounds spent in the last seven years. We are committed to progressing work at Strone Point, Erines and Dunderave in the coming months with the overall aim of keeping traffic moving and building greater resilience into the A83 as a whole.”
Tourism businesses poised to prove they’re Wild about ArgyllTourism businesses poised to prove they’re Wild about Argyll
Added: 07 Jan 2015
Local tourism businesses are being urged to sign up to an exciting new mentoring scheme designed to help them make the most of the wild and wonderful area in which they operate.

Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) has organised two workshops – followed up by one-to-one mentoring visits for all participants – to maximise wildlife and adventure tourism opportunities for businesses in Oban & Lorn and Mid Argyll.

The ‘Nature’s Paradise’ scheme is being generously supported by Forestry Commission Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

AITC chair Gavin Dick said: “Wildlife and adventure tourism are rapidly growing markets right across the UK, and we’re fortunate to be living in one of the country’s most spectacular locations for both of them.

“Argyll and the Isles boasts some of the UK’s most breathtaking scenery and wildlife, which together offer the perfect platform for all sorts of outdoor activities.

“These ‘Nature’s Paradise’ workshops are designed to help local tourism businesses tap into this potential by being proactive in ensuring that visitors are aware of the abundance of rich and often unique outdoor experiences on offer right on our doorstep.

“Those who take part will in effect become ambassadors for wildlife and adventure tourism in Argyll and the Isles, and will be fully equipped to ensure our visitors have a truly memorable stay.”

The workshops, which are aimed at those whose work includes interacting with tourists and advising them on what to see and do during their stay – such as hoteliers, restaurant owners, attraction operators etc - will take place in Oban on Monday, January 26 and in Lochgilphead the following day.

Both will be held in the local SNH offices, and will start at 10.30am and close at 3.30pm with a light lunch provided.

Mentoring visits will be in February and March, with a catch-up with participants again in April and a follow up visit in the autumn.

Among the topics the workshops will cover are:

• Who ‘wildlife and adventure tourists’ actually are, and how they can be best reached and served

• The unique wildlife and adventure experiences on offer in the Oban & Lorn and Mid Argyll areas, how they change during the course of a year and the best way for visitors to experience them

• Boosting participants’ confidence in talking about wildlife and adventure experiences and answering visitors’ questions

Unlike many other workshop programmes, every participant will then have a two hour appointment at their own premises with an AITC agent in order to provide further advice and ideas for the future. This will be followed by another session several weeks later, and again at the end of the 2015 season.

The charge for each participant is just £20, including VAT, which goes towards the resource pack provided at the workshops and the mentoring visit. Each business will also have an entry on AITC’s new ‘Get Wild About Argyll’ page on its website.

Numbers are limited to 20 businesses per workshop in each area, so anyone interested is being urged to book their place as soon as possible.

To book, simply email Lynn at with your name, business name, type of business, address, contact telephone number and email address and the date on which you’d like to attend. Please also advise whether you need an invoice, and state if you are a member of a local tourism association (not essential).

Anyone interested in finding out more about AITC and its work can visit its website at or email .

AITC was set up in 2012 as the delivery arm for the Argyll & The Isles Strategic Tourism Partnership.
Attachments: Download File
 Scots encouraged to tweet the one word that makes them think of Scotland.
Added: 30 Dec 2014
Welcoming, beautiful, home or fandabbydozy – what word best describes Scotland for you? That’s the question being posed to people across the country.

After what has been an unprecedented year for the tourism industry, an invitation has been issued to the nation to tweet their #onewordscotland.

It’s part of a campaign by leading figures in the Scottish tourism industry to create a giant word cloud and raise awareness of the importance of the tourism industry to Scotland’s wider visitor economy. Organisers hope it will act as a subtle and fun reminder that tourism in Scotland is everyone’s business!

Starting on New Year’s Day, Scots, and anyone visiting, can tweet the word they believe encapsulates what Scotland means to them. The chosen word should be followed by #onewordScotland.

Since October when the Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing was invited to put the first word into the cloud at the Scottish Tourism Alliance October Conference, hundreds of delegates and guests from various events, including the regional Scottish Thistle Awards finals, have been submitting their suggestions. Currently ‘welcoming’ has emerged as the most popular choice.

2014 has been a unique year for Scottish tourism with confidence within the industry high. However, it is recognised by all that to really capitalise on the success of 2014 it is important to continue shouting about and promoting Scotland to the world.

Marc Crothall CEO of the Scottish Tourism Alliance said: “The world is becoming an increasingly small place and there are many more places to visit so to ensure Scotland becomes that destination of choice our collective promotional voice has to be even louder in 2015
“Following the success of 2014 there is a real feel-good factor, not just within the industry, but also among the people of Scotland. We wanted to create something that harnesses that enthusiasm and turns it into a lasting physical representation of what is so great about Scotland.

“As tourism is everyone’s business we felt it was only fitting to extend the invite to everyone across the country including those visiting for New Year .So we’re asking people to kick off 2015 by tweeting #onewordscotland with the term or description they feel perfectly sums up what Scotland means to them.”

All tweets under the #onewordscotland will be included in a word cloud set to be revealed as part of the Signature Programme held during Scottish Tourism Week 2015 on 4th March.

The Signature programme, includes the National Tourism Conference titled STA TV, the Scottish Thistle Awards Finals, ScotHot, the Scottish Culinary Championships, the Scottish Licenced Trade Association and Scotland Food & Drink AGM’s. The programme will see in excess of 10,000 professionals from the Scottish tourism industry descend on Glasgow to attend one or more of the six Signature events, to network and hear from influential speakers.
For more details please visit:
Transport Minister says check before you goTransport Minister says check before you go
Added: 19 Dec 2014
As people plan for the festive getaway, Transport Minister Derek Mackay is doing his best to make sure they are fully informed about the latest conditions.

Mr Mackay had recorded an update for Traffic Scotland internet radio which will be broadcast across the next two weeks. Additional audio is also available at

It lets people know about the wide variety of information sources that they can use to keep them mobile when weather conditions are challenging.

Thousands of people will be setting off in the next few days to visit friends and family at Christmas and Transport Scotland is working with Traffic Scotland to make sure that they reach their destinations safely. Traffic Scotland is providing a 24/7 service and people will be monitoring the network across the season, including Christmas Day.

Information on road conditions is regularly fed out through @trafficscotland to almost 70 thousand followers. It is also possible, on the Traffic Scotland desktop and mobile websites, for people to check the individual camera or weather stations to get the best information on conditions in their areas.

Transport Minister Derek Mackay said:
“If there is snow at Christmas, it can certainly make us feel more festive but wintry weather can also cause some disruption to the transport network. We want people to know that we are doing all we can to help them get to their destinations as safely as possible.

“Thousands more journeys are taken on our roads at this time of year so we would urge them to leave plenty of time and check the weather forecast and conditions before they leave.

“Traffic Scotland’s information comes straight from first-hand sources, such as our partners in the police and operating companies as well as from technology feeds across the trunk roads.

“It is fed to broadcasters across the country, informing hundreds of thousands of us about conditions on the roads. It was good to be able to record my own message to find out just how much effort goes into the service.

“Our roads, railways, ferries and airports can face additional challenges when temperatures drop and there are difficult weather conditions. We stand up our MART roads partners to cover the season and are working closely with our operating companies, the police and local authorities to keep Scotland moving over the holidays.”
Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative announce date and venue for its fourth summitArgyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative announce date and venue for its fourth summit
Added: 11 Dec 2014

Date: Tuesday 17 March 2015

Venue: Ardgartan Hotel, Loch Long

Time: 10.30am – 4.00pm

Purpose: Argyll and the Isles Tourism Summit 2015

Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) today (Thursday 11 December) announced its fourth tourism summit will take place on Tuesday 17 March at one of Argyll and the Isles’ most recent major tourism developments, the Lochs & Glens Ardgartan Hotel on the banks of Loch Long near Arrochar.

The AITC summit is the chance for the tourism industry in Argyll and the Isles to come together both to network and also to hear about and help develop the plans for 2015 and beyond. More information, including the programme and speakers, will be released in the New Year, but as 2015 is the Year of Food and Drink you can be assured that this will be central to the event with a tasty lunch from Food from Argyll.

And the food and drink theme continues with the joint announcement from the HIT Oyster Club that it is collaborating with AITC and hosting a six course tasting dinner at the Loch Fyne Hotel in Inveraray on Monday 16 March to coincide with the AITC summit. Delegates can find out more information about the dinner as well as how to book tickets and overnight accommodation at a very attractive early bird rate at the Loch Fyne Hotel at

Collaborative working is part of the AITC ethos and 16 and 17 March are already shaping up to be key dates in the 2015 Argyll and the Isles tourism calendar. Look out for more information on the summit programme and speakers in the New Year but for now you can register interest and receive email updates by contacting
MACC awarded funding to explore renewable development of siteMACC awarded funding to explore renewable development of site
Added: 10 Dec 2014
A project that will look to maximise the renewable energy resources at Machrihanish Airbase is 1 of 17 across the whole of Scotland to be taken forward in Phase 1 of the Local Energy Challenge Fund.

Local Energy Scotland, who runs the fund as part of the Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES), received over 100 applications from community groups, charities, local authorities and businesses.

Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing announced the 17 successful projects last month at the Community Energy Scotland Conference in Edinburgh, with a renewables supply micro-grid at Machrihanish Airbase amongst them. The successful projects now have until February to carry out the development work required to apply for Phase 2 of the scheme. The minimum award for Phase 2 projects is £1M, with a maximum single award of £6M. A successful application to Phase 2 could be transformational for MACC.
MACC’s project, which is being led by Community Energy Scotland, was awarded £12,838 to prepare a detailed project plan for the cost effective integration of an on-site renewable energy supply. This will examine the whole of the former airbase and its community owned power grid. The existing micro-grid that lies within the site’s perimeter is not currently used to its full potential.

The work will establish the capacities and financial issues around the installation and operation of renewable energy generation to supply the existing buildings and businesses active there. This would provide business tenants and future users of the site with low cost renewable energy.
Technologies to generate and store power and heat will also be considered and a blue print will be produced to provide a strong basis for a bid to Phase 2 of the fund.

Few places in Scotland have the renewable energy resource, space and potential of Machrihanish Airbase. Phase 1 of this project will look to see how innovation and local energy networks in and around the site could benefit from the jobs and economic activity a renewable energy powered site could deliver.

MACC Chairman, Tom Millar said:
‘Our vision for this project is to better exploit the site’s potential renewable energy resources, to provide low cost renewable energy to the existing users of the site and help a new generation of local business to take off.’
Speaking at the Community Energy Scotland conference, Mr Ewing said:

‘We have an ambition to put communities at the heart of local energy systems. There are huge benefits to local energy ownership, like supporting the needs of the community for decades to come, whilst creating and securing jobs, underpinning regeneration and funding energy efficiency improvements for hundreds of local people.’
New agents hard at work to boost Argyll and the Isles tourism New agents hard at work to boost Argyll and the Isles tourism
Added: 05 Dec 2014
Development agents appointed just weeks ago to help raise Argyll and the Isles’ capability in the tourism sector have hit the ground running.

In September, Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) appointed seven individuals to work with local marketing groups and tourist associations on its behalf in a bid to strengthen the region as a tourism hot-spot.

At their recent board meeting, the AITC directors heard how all the agents - who are employed on a freelance basis - had made a positive start having held initial meetings with key partners and contacts in most areas, and progressing priority tasks.

Among the activities undertaken to date are supporting the groups to: review current structures, systems and governance in some areas, review existing membership, investigate alternative local association models, propose new events, consider new websites and/or improvements to existing ones and explore specific local tourism issues.

The agents came together today, Friday (December 5), to brief AITC on their progress to date and brainstorm on how best to grow tourism capacity, support the local groups, devise effective new action plans and tackle priority projects at a local level.

AITC chair Gavin Dick said he was very pleased with how the new recruits had taken to their task.

“We brought the development agents in specifically to work with local marketing and tourism groups across the region, and we were very fortunate to be able to appoint people who not only are familiar with the geographical area they are covering but also are passionate about growing them” he added.

“Of course these are still early days, but I’m very encouraged by the work they have done so far and their commitment to improving both the structure and membership of our local associations as well as the support available to them.

“The next few years are absolutely critical to Argyll and the Isles being justifiably recognised as one of the UK’s most glittering tourism jewels and I believe we’re taking big strides in that respect.

“The development agents provide a vital link between AITC and local associations, and the AITC directors look forward to monitoring their progress over the next few months as we continue to work together to ensure the area has a bumper 2015 tourist season.”

Kerrien Grant from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: “We are delighted to be supporting AITC to build upon the strong tourism offering in Argyll and the Islands. The development agents are providing opportunities for all organisations involved to share good practice, and provide a collective voice for tourism businesses and social enterprises. We are very pleased with the range of skills and experience that the development agents have, and look forward to seeing their work improve the structure and systems that will enable AITC to continue to go from strength to strength.

Anyone interested in finding out more about AITC and its work can visit its website at or email
MACC Challenge – Community spirit at its finestMACC Challenge – Community spirit at its finest
Added: 04 Dec 2014
The first ever MACC Challenge took place at Machrihanish Airbase on Saturday 29th November and was a massive success, thanks to the help and support from the local community.

One hundred brave participants tackled a 4 mile obstacle course spread across the former RAF airbase in Kintyre, consisting water slides, mud runs, spiders webs, hay bales, cargo nets and much much more. The event was non-competitive, with organisers keen to encourage fun and camaraderie.

Those taking on the Challenge rose to the occasion, dressing up in military costume on the day and many diving head first into the mud and water obstacles (literally).
Three hardy participants travelled all the way from Fife on the morning of the event and thoroughly enjoyed themselves, impressed by the friendly reception they received and the encouragement from the marshals throughout the course.

A number of local groups, businesses and individuals made the MACC Challenge possible by volunteering their time and donating materials to help build the course in the weeks leading up to the event.

Fifth year pupils from Campbeltown Grammar School played a huge role, spending a number of Friday afternoons setting up.

Volunteers from the Kintyre Dialysis Campaign served up soup, refreshments and home baking for all on the day. Profits from the event will be donated to the group, who have been campaigning for a dialysis unit in Campbeltown Hospital from July this year. This is a hugely worthwhile cause and something that means a lot to many individuals and families in Campbeltown.

Organisers would like to thank everyone involved on the day including helpers, marshals, spectators and of course, participants. A true example of Campbeltown’s community spirit.

Drawing inspiration from increasingly popular Obstacle Race events, the idea for the MACC Challenge came from Campbeltown Running Club’s Elaine McGeachy and James Murdoch, who thought the land and unique buildings at Machrihanish Airbase were crying out for an obstacle course.

Elaine said: ‘We knew there was scope for an event like this in Kintyre but we really have been blown away by the response we have had. The event sold out within one week and the feedback from Challengers has been amazing. Everyone keeps asking us when the next one is!’
A spokesperson for Machrihanish Airbase Community Company said: ‘MACC would like to thank James Murdoch and Elaine McGeachy from Campbeltown Running Club for bringing the idea to us and working tirelessly to pull it all together in such a short space of time. These events usually require months and months of planning but we only sat down with James and Elaine in August. To pull this off is a great achievement. The MACC Challenge is yet another thing that showcases the unlimited potential that lies at Machrihanish Airbase. We will definitely be bringing the MACC Challenge back next year!’

See you in 2015!
Added: 01 Dec 2014
Congratulations to eveyone involved with the Tiree Music Festival - this is a very well deserved award.

All at TMF are honoured to have been awarded the ‘Best Small Event’ at the UK Event Awards on Friday night. At the prestigious awards event in London, judges commented that they were “blown away by the application and impact that the event has had on such a remote area”.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported TMF over the past 5 years with special praise to our sponsors, volunteers and the dedicated Team TMF who give so much of their time and energy to the event.
Marine Tourism Strategy - your chance to have your sayMarine Tourism Strategy - your chance to have your say
Added: 26 Nov 2014
The Marine Tourism Strategy is an initiative led by a working group of industry leaders and user groups
together with public agencies and enterprise bodies to focus on the sustainable growth of Scotland’s marine
leisure sector. With your help we can build the economic benefits of marine tourism for Scotland as a
whole, and for all of our individual businesses, teams, employees and families.

We want Scotland to be recognised as a marine tourism destination of first choice for high quality, value
for money and memorable customer experience delivered by skilled and passionate people.

Scotland’s marine environment is one of its crown jewels and encompasses some of the world’s most
beautiful and varied boating waters. Whether our visitors seek adventure, wildlife, family boating experiences,
day or extended visits, coastal, offshore or inland waters, Scotland’s marine offer is complete, varied
and of the highest standard.

Marine tourism is one of Scottish tourism’s sleeping giants with sailing and boating already generating
over £101m of expenditure and directly supporting the employment of almost 2,730 jobs. With coordination
and effort at every level we can build our sector into the giant it can be.

Over the years the marine sector has developed, with little formal coordination or strategic input, to become
a leading and valuable tourism sector. Our belief is that from this sound foundation so much more
can be achieved and generated and that we must be ambitious in our plans and goals for the future.
Building a strategy for the future is not about flicking a switch but rather identifying a path forwards with
achievable step by step actions.

To realise this potential we need to coordinate our activity and the support available from partners, government
and public agencies. A strategy can help to bring these activities together but only if it is one that
the whole industry believes in and supports.

If you’d like to download the strategy you can find it at or if you’d like to take the survey click
MACH 1 stages date released FOR 2015MACH 1 stages date released FOR 2015
Added: 17 Nov 2014
Following the success of last year’s inaugural Mach 1 Stages Rally at Machrihanish Air Base in Kintyre, the event’s organisers have announced brand new and exciting plans to ensure the 2015 Scottish Tarmack Rally Championship event is even bigger and better.

Scheduled to take place over the weekend of July 11th and 12th, 2015, the event is once again being organised by industry stalwarts Dunfermline Car Club (DCC). With more than 40 years’ experience, DCC know exactly what makes a good rally.

The event will be known as the MACH 1 Stages in association with Blackwood Plant Hire who have come on board as next year’s main championship sponsor.
There is a brand new format in the pipeline, and plans to open up new areas of the airfield are already under way – with organisers confident the revamped 2015 event will attract record numbers of competitors and spectators.
Event organiser David Hatrick said: “The 2014 rally was an unprecedented success. We saw more than 100 teams compete over the Stages during the weekend, and spectator figures were astonishing. Some of the top competitors from the Scottish Rally Championship (SRC) took part too, which was a great boost to the popularity of the event.

“In 2015, we want to cement the Mach 1 Stages as the event to get in your diary early.

Organisers are also keen to encourage local businesses to become involved in the 2015 event, either by sponsoring a stage or by sponsoring a local competitor.

Mr Hatrick continued: “In 2014, we received fantastic support from the local community, and plenty of businesses got involved - providing food, entertainment and such like.

“We’d like to enhance the local community involvement next year, and invite any businesses who would like to participate in any way to contact us as soon as possible.”
David can be contacted on 07717130612 or email where he would love to hear of your interest.
Help Act get the word out!Help Act get the word out!
Added: 11 Nov 2014
Argyll and the Isles Coast and Countryside Trust is looking for local groups to get creative. And with the chance to win £300 for your club, group or school to spend on outdoor activities this is a great incentive to get in on the Act!

Any good at arranging twigs? What about gathering leaves? Displaying shells? And most importantly, do you have creative minds in your group? If so, you are the perfect candidates for Your Act – a competition that’s all about spreading the word! Which word? Our word of course! All you need to do is make a giant sized mural of the word ‘act’ somewhere in our outdoors! Use stones, shells, sand, trees, leaves – whatever you like (as long as it’s a natural material), we’ll come and take a picture of it and the team with the most creative mural will be awarded £300 for their club/group/school to spend on outdoor activities.
Love Loch Lomond Launches New Cycle Rack Initiative for Local BusinessesLove Loch Lomond Launches New Cycle Rack Initiative for Local Businesses
Added: 04 Nov 2014
Destination organisation Love Loch Lomond is delighted to announce a new initiative that will enhance outdoor adventure and the visitor experience in the Loch Lomond, Trossachs and Clyde Sea Lochs area with the installation of cycle racks.

Loch Lomond, Trossachs and Clyde Sea Lochs businesses are being invited to apply to Love Loch Lomond for cycle racks at their establishments. The racks will be allocated where businesses can best demonstrate the need for cycle parking in strategic locations and both the racks and installation will be provided free of charge by Love Loch Lomond.

Stuart Cordner, Chair of Love Loch Lomond said: “We are delighted to be launching this initiative which will enhance both the cycling experience for visitors to our area and benefit those businesses that can offer cycle park facilities for customers.

Stuart added: “Many visitors arrive with expensive bikes and cyclists are not happy at leaving their bikes against a fence or wall. Love Loch Lomond has identified ‘connectivity’ as being of major importance to the delivery of a memorable tourism offering and we have a number of current projects including cycling infrastructure; Waterbus Services; working with Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, walking routes and interpretation panels.
We hope this initiative will be an integral part of a cycling infrastructure that will ensure Loch Lomond and the Clyde Sea Lochs remains a must-see destination for cycling enthusiasts, holiday-makers and for the growing number of local cyclists.”

The initiative is free and open for applications from all tourism and hospitality businesses in Loch Lomond, Trossachs and Clyde Sea Lochs areas. Businesses must apply by 21st November 2014. Information and an application form can be downloaded from the Business page of the Love Loch Lomond website at

Photo by Paul Saunders Photography

Oban to host first Scottish Rural ParliamentOban to host first Scottish Rural Parliament
Added: 28 Oct 2014
Oban has been confirmed as the location for the first ever Scottish Rural Parliament, taking place from 6th to 8th November. The Rural Parliament will bring together the people of rural Scotland and policy makers to enable better understanding, improve policy making and address rural issues.

Around 400 people will gather in Oban for the three day event which will develop and agree a way forward for rural Scotland as well as celebrating the strengths and achievements of rural communities.

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said

The establishment of a Rural Parliament in Scotland has been a long-held ambition of mine, and I am delighted that the very first meeting will be held in Oban in November.

Rural Parliaments work well in other European countries, giving our rural communities and businesses a stronger voice in policy making and an opportunity to celebrate all that is good about living and working in rural areas. I would urge everyone across rural Scotland to take advantage of the opportunity to be involved in shaping the content, remit, agenda and themes of our nation’s very first Rural Parliament and make it a success.

A series of smaller events are planned across Scotland in the run up to the Rural Parliament which will feed into the discussion and debate at the event itself.

Scottish Rural Action (SRA) is the organisation charged by Scottish Government with developing the Rural Parliament. Chair John Hutchison said:

The Scottish Rural Parliament will be a community-led process of development culminating in an event every two years. Our aim is to give rural communities the opportunity to present a collective voice to Government. Encouraging discussion and debate over the next few months, leading up to November, will be an important part of that.

Scottish Rural Parliament Coordinator Emma Cooper explained:

The process of involvement, discussion and debate within and between rural communities prior to the event is as vital, if not more so, than the event itself. By engaging people in this manner and giving them a real voice in Scottish politics, it is hoped that this first Rural Parliament will kick-start a rural movement such as exists in other parts of Europe.

The host town and the surrounding area of Argyll & Bute will have an opportunity to showcase their finest local produce, talent and community projects to the delegates. Scottish Rural Action have identified the community-led Atlantis Leisure Centre as the primary venue and are working with Argyll & Bute Council to secure Corran Halls as a secondary venue.
Three Lochs Way - Job Done – nearly!Three Lochs Way - Job Done – nearly!
Added: 23 Oct 2014
On Wednesday 22 October Sir Malcolm Colquhoun of Luss declared the Highlandman’s Road improvement works complete.

Over the past 4 years Helensburgh and District Access Trust has invested nearly £70,000 in restoring this notoriously boggy part of their popular Three Lochs Way long distance walking route which runs between Balloch and Inveruglas and passes through Helensburgh, Garelochhead, Arrochar and Tarbet.

Prior to cutting the ribbon to open the newly repaired walking route, Sir Malcolm said,

“With the Colquhoun family’s historic associations with Helensburgh and Glen Fruin I am delighted to perform this ceremony. It is really marvelous what the Helensburgh & District Access Trust has managed to do to bring this old Church or Coffin road back into use.

“It is wonderful too that the old road now forms part of the Three Lochs Way, a new long distance walking route which is opening up our beautiful countryside to more and more visitors every year. As well as being good news for the visitor it is good news for local hospitality businesses who will see increasing footfall from folk walking the route. It is good too for land managers and farmers who are also benefiting from the better access and drainage which the improvements have brought.

“I know how difficult it will have been to raise the funds to complete the work and I can only compliment the Trust for their hard work and determination in bringing this project to fruition.”

This latest Highlandman’s Road project was funded by Argyll & the Isles Leader, Landfill Tax Community Fund, Helensburgh Round Table, Love Loch Lomond, HADAT and a generous anonymous donation from a local walker.

John Urquhart, the trustee who managed the project said,

“The Highlandman’s Road was in a very poor state and making these improvements has been on the Trust’s to do list for many years. Together with some works currently being finalised further east near Goukhill, the delivery of this “missing link” effectively completes the whole of the Three Lochs Way route. Now walkers, and mountain bikers can use the whole route from Balloch to Inveruglas with ease. Attention now swings to Arrochar where work will start soon to provide a short link path from the Three Lochs Way down into the village at Tighness. The Trust is also hopeful it will soon be able to create a similar link down to Garelochhead, but this depends on the success of an Argyll Coast and Countryside Trust application currently under consideration by the Coastal Communities fund. When these links have been achieved, we will truly be able to say,

“Job done!””

Mr Urquhart went on to thank Luss Estates saying it wouldn’t have been possible to create the route without their support. He also said he owed a debt of gratitude to his fellow trustees for their unstinting backing during what had been an extended and sometimes problematic project. He also thanked the funders, and the main contractor, Gordon MacLarty, whose operatives had worked long and hard to overcome the often testing ground conditions.

Before the ribbon cutting ceremony, Sir Malcolm presented former Helensburgh & District Access Trust Secretary and trust founding member, Alan Day, with a scroll bestowing on him the position of Honorary President of the Access Trust.


Editors’ Notes

Three Lochs Way (TLW) and Helensburgh and District Access Trust (HADAT)

Tracing its origins back to the 1990s, Helensburgh & District Access Trust is a charity which seeks to improve access to the countryside in the Helensburgh area.

To date (HADAT) has created, promoted and repaired 12 km of paths and walking routes in the immediate vicinity of Helensburgh. Including the TLW long distance walking route, it is actively engaged on a further 50 km or so. To date it has raised around £200,000 which has been invested in these paths and their associated signage and other sources of information.
The TLW is the brainchild of Alan Day, recently retired secretary and founding member of HADAT.
After extensive research and careful negotiations with land managers, (including Luss Estates), it was in March 2010 that the Trust first launched its website publicising the "Three Lochs Way".
HADAT published free Android and iPhone smart phone app guides for the TLW route in May 2012 and a guidebook published last year has sold more than 250 copies.
To make the link between Rhu and Helensburgh and Glen Fruin, the TLW utilises the historic church or coffin road known as the “The Highlandman’s Road” (although the Glen Fruin folk call it “Church Road”) and HADAT has been working hard over the past 4 years to bring the badly drained “road” up to a decent standard. £20,000 from the National Park allowed the northern half of the route to be improved in 2010, while this southern section (being opened by Sir Malcolm Colquhoun on 22 October) has now been tremendously improved with £48,000 obtained from a variety of sources including the European LEADER programme, The Landfill Tax Community Fund, Helensburgh Round Table, Love Loch Lomond, HADAT itself and a generous local anonymous donor.
Along with another recently completed linking path between Balloch and Helensburgh near Goukhill, the Highlandman’s Road work means the whole TLW route is now complete from end to end– a huge achievement.

After that the priority will be to improve the links between the route and its attendant settlements. Work should begin before the end of October on a National Park funded link to Arrochar at Tighness and a major funding application has recently been lodged by Argyll and The Isles Coast and Countryside Trust with the Coastal Communities Fund which, if successful, will deliver the long wished for connection to Garelochhead
 Applications for 2015 HIT Scotland Emerging Talent Scholarships Open
Added: 14 Oct 2014
The Hospitality Industry Trust (HIT) Scotland has launched the 2015 Emerging Talent Scholarship programme.

The scholarships offer recipients places on money can’t-buy learning-experiences or on courses at the world’s finest hospitality schools.

Placements range from working in Michelin starred kitchens, behind the scenes of prestigious events and businesses in the UK or spending time in luxury resorts in the emerging markets of the world.

Scholars can also take courses at the Disney Institute in Florida, Europe’s top hospitality school in Lausanne, Switzerland, or at the Ivy League Cornell University School of Hotel Administration in New York State.

New scholarships for this year include the Entrepreneurial scholarship, Global Cities in the Far East and the Capital scholarship.

Applications are welcome from all levels and sectors of the Hospitality Industry, including students studying towards a related qualification, but applicants must live in Scotland.

For further information or to apply for an Emerging Talent Scholarship see the HIT Scotland website at The closing date for applications is Friday 28th of November 2014 and scholarships will be awarded at HIT Scotland’s Emerging Talent Conference on Thursday 5th February 2015.
 A83 OVERNIGHT IMPROVEMENT WORKS A83 Tarbet West – A83 Tarbet Tea Room
Added: 09 Oct 2014
Works start Sunday 12th October for three weeks from Sunday to Friday

A 1.81km section of the A83 Trunk Road within the village of Tarbet is to benefit from major improvement works starting on the 12th of October 2014 over a three week period.

The £400,000 overnight works are being undertaken on behalf of Transport Scotland and involve resurfacing and re-shaping of the carriageway to ensure that this section of the A83 continues to operate safely for years to come. The significant bend at Tarbet Tea Rooms will benefit from the introduction of a premium aggregate surfacing material to improve grip. The drainage systems in this section of the A83 will also be improved to reduce the likelihood of flooding in the future.

The overnight works have been programmed for construction between Sunday 12th October and Friday 31st October 2014 and will be carried out between 20:30hrs and 06:00hrs each night. This project will be carried out Sunday nights to Friday mornings to minimise the impact on daytime and weekend traffic. The working hours have also been programmed around the West Coast Motors and Citylink bus services in order to minimise delay to commuters.

Due to restricted road widths in this area, overnight road closures are required to ensure the safety of road workers and public traffic with an official diversion route in place via the A82, A85 and A819.

To reduce the disruption to road users due to the total 70 mile diversion length, the workforce will allow vehicles to pass through the works approximately every hour, when it is safe to do so. Those wishing to wait for these openings will be held in designated stacking areas. Eastbound traffic will be queued on the A83 and westbound traffic will be held in the car parking area for Loch Cruises on the A82 opposite the Tarbet Hotel.

A 30mph speed limit will be in place outwith working hours to ensure vehicles can pass over the temporary surface safely.

Commenting on the works, Eddie Ross, BEAR Scotland’s North West Unit Representative said: “These essential overnight works will improve the condition of this section of road which has deteriorated. They have been designed to not only increase the structural integrity of the carriageway but also to enhance the quality of the running surface making it a better, smoother and, crucially, safer experience drivers. The use of premium stone will also see a significant improvement in grip through the bend outside the Tarbet Tea Rooms.”

“We have planned these improvement works carefully and made every effort to keep disruption to a minimum for motorists by scheduling them at night. Consideration has also been given to the West Coast Motors and Citylink bus timetables to ensure no disruption occurs to these vital services.”

“Motorists are encouraged to plan their journeys in advance, check the Traffic Scotland website for up to date information and to allow extra time for travel during this period.”

If adverse weather conditions mean the works cannot be carried out, the road will remain open as normal to trunk road traffic.

Real-time journey planning information can be obtained by visiting

9th October 2014

Latitude and longitude to Scheme Start – Latitude: 56.203227 Longitude: - 4.711035
Easting and Northing to Scheme Start – E: 231930 N: 704475

For further information please contact:
Trunk Road Defects: 0800 028 1414

Traffic information is available on:
To consider public transport options as an alternative for your journey visit or

For media queries contact Grayling:
Kirsty Anderson, Joanna Buggy, Laura McKenzie or Martin Allen on 0131 226 2363 or 0845 296 0027

Notes to editors:

• Works will be undertaken between 20:30hrs and 06:00hrs each day.

• These works are weather dependant and in the event of unforeseen weather conditions or extremely low temperatures the above timescales for traffic management may have to be extended until works are completed.

• Emergency services will be able to pass through the works at all times.

• Traffic management will be removed outwith scheduled working hours and at weekends, although a speed restriction will be in place.

BEAR Scotland manages and maintains the trunk roads in the NE, SE and NW of Scotland on behalf of Transport Scotland.
Attachments: Download File
 Another top award for Mull Eagle Watch
Added: 08 Oct 2014
This news release comes from Forestry Commission Scotland - well done to all the team involved.

The popular Mull Eagle Watch project has scooped the prestigious 5 Star Wildlife Experience award from VisitScotland.

This award is given to “exceptional” attractions that offer top customer care and facilities.

Mull Eagle Watch received the highest award partly due to the “involved and comprehensive experience” that the Mull Eagle Watch rangers provide.

This new award is hot on the heels of the project receiving a gold rating in the UK-wide Green Tourism Business Scheme.

Mull’s eagles are a major draw for tourists to the islands and are estimated to generate up to £5million towards the local economy.

Speaking for all the Mull Eagle Watch partners, Rachel French said:

“We are all delighted and so pleased that all the hard work from the volunteers and partners has been recognised so positively.

“The white tailed eagles are truly fantastic birds to see in the wild – once seen never forgotten. The project is a great example of how green tourism can flourish well and support rural economies and communities at the same time.”

Mull Eagle Watch is a partnership between Forestry Commission Scotland, RSPB Scotland, Mull & Iona Community Trust, Police Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage.

This is the third year running that the wildlife project, based on the National Forest Estate, has been awarded a 5 star tourism rating.

For more information on Mull Eagle Watch log onto

Notes to news editors
1. Forestry Commission Scotland is part of the Scottish Government’s Environment & Forestry Directorate
2. For news, events and recreation information log on to For Twitter:
3. Tha FCS ag obair mar bhuidheann-stiùiridh coilltearachd Riaghaltas na h-Alba agus a’ riaghladh nan 660,000 heactairean ann an Oighreachd na Coille Nàiseanta, a’ dìonadh, a’ cumail smachd air agus a’ leudachadh nan coilltean gus buannachdan a thoirt dha coimhearsnachdan, an eaconamaidh agus, ag obair an aghaidh atharrachadh gnàth-shìde.
4. Media enquiries to Steve Williams, Forestry Commission Scotland press office 0300 067 6508.

New talent unveiled to boost Argyll and the Isles tourism New talent unveiled to boost Argyll and the Isles tourism
Added: 30 Sep 2014
The organisation responsible for raising awareness of Argyll and the Isles as a top quality visitor destination today unveiled its latest recruits.

Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) has just appointed seven new ‘development agents’, who will work on its behalf, across the area, with local marketing groups and tourist associations in a bid to promote Argyll and the Isles as a tourism hot-spot.

The dynamic new agents will start almost immediately. They will work on a freelance basis for an average of two days a week until March next year, with the possibility of their contracts being extended over the following two years.

Each of the new recruits will cover a particular area within Argyll and the Isles. The names of the successful applicants and the initial areas they will work within are:

Sam Jones working in Mull and Iona
Linda Battison working in Oban and Lorn
Lynn Jones working in Mid Argyll
Iain Johnston working in Kintyre and Gigha
Bonnie Wood working in Islay, Jura and Colonsay
Virginia Sumsion working in Bute and Cowal
Tasha Watson working in Loch Lomond and the Clyde Sealochs

New AITC chair Gavin Dick said the appointments mark a major step forward in the efforts to grow tourism capacity across Argyll and the Isles and tackle priority projects at a local level.

“This is a very exciting time for tourism in this area, with AITC recently securing significant funding for the next three years,” he added.

“The profile of Argyll and the Isles as a top tourist destination continues to rise, and this is in no small part down to the fantastic work being done by individual groups and associations up and down the region.

“We are delighted to have attracted this group of high calibre ‘agents’, who will provide an extra level of support for the local enterprises. Their job will be to work with the people on the ground to ensure that their efforts have a lasting impact and secure growth in the tourism sector, wherever they happen to be.

“I am particularly pleased that we have found people who are so familiar with the areas in which they will work and what they have to offer, and are passionate about promoting them. These are people who love Argyll and the Isles and believe it can cement its place as one of the very best tourism destinations in the UK, if not the world, by working at a grassroots level.

“They join a team which is committed to ensuring that Argyll and the Isles has the infrastructure and support in place to enable it to reach its full potential, and we very much look forward to seeing their work starting to bear fruit over the next few months.”

Anyone interested in finding out more about AITC and its work can visit its website at or email

Photo from left to right: Lynn Jones, Virginia Sumsion, Natasha Watson, Iain Johnston and Linda Battison. Not pictured are Bonnie Wood and Sam Jones
Help Forestry Commission Scotland show how Scotland’s forests are alive with autumn coloursHelp Forestry Commission Scotland show how Scotland’s forests are alive with autumn colours
Added: 22 Sep 2014
This news release has been taken from the Forestry Commission Scotland website at

It’s that time of year when the trees begin to shed their leaves and the forest canopy becomes awash with all the glorious warm hues of autumn.

Few places are more spectacular to visit during the autumn months than the forest, where you can enjoy the crunch of crisp fallen leaves underfoot, breathe in fresh air and enjoy nature’s dazzling spectrum of red, orange and gold.

Share your autumn snaps
This year we’re inviting you to submit your snapshots of the changing forest to add to our Autumn Colours map of Scotland. Our map will be updated with your photos weekly to reflect the transition from summer into autumn.

Submit your pictures to us via Twitter or Facebook along with the hashtag #autumncolours and we’ll select the best ones to add to the map – and don’t forget to tell us where you took the snap, so we can share the beautiful location with everyone else!

We’ve added a few photographs to get started, simply hover over the map to view a glimpse of the autumn colours emerging in the woods. If you’d like to visit, here are links to our top autumn destinations this week.

Glen Affric
Loch Morlich
Queen’s View Visitor Centre
Loch Katrine
Campsie Glen

Happy snapping!
Please note: by submitting a picture you’re giving us permission to use it on Facebook, Twitter and our blog. We won’t use it anywhere else.
Attachments: Download File
AITC among Best of the West at Inveraray CastleAITC among Best of the West at Inveraray Castle
Added: 15 Sep 2014
The fourth Best of the West Festival (Bowfest) took place last weekend (13 and 14 September) in the grounds of Inveraray Castle. And, in support of the fantastic line-up of music, food and drink, Argyll and the Isles Tourism (AITC) was there to promote the region and what the area has to offer.

Bowfest showcases the best food, drink, arts, crafts and music from the region with the food and drink line-up came from Food from Argyll. Also, new in 2014 there was also the Homecoming 2014 Festival Kitchen where award-winning chefs from across Argyll and the Isles demonstrated their skills not only entertaining us but inspiring us too!

Younger visitors to Bowfest had lots to do, outside activities included bungee trampolines, a climbing wall and laser quest provided by Argyll Activities. While inside were circus skills and face painting from Kintyre’s Funky Chicken and Artmap Argyll artists on hand with lots of creative pursuits.

The Crafts Tent had a fantastic array of local products to buy from local talented entrepreneurs and displays from the main event sponsors. This was where AITC could be found with our stand offering visitors more information about the ‘Best of the West’ in the form of our suite of leaflets which cover eight areas and eight sectors. Almost a million of these leaflets have been distributed this year and the feedback has been extremely positive. For the weekend, we had a challenging Bowfest 2014 competition – place 12 well known attractions and landmarks on our map of Argyll and the Isles. Thank you to the nearly 400 people who took the time to join in, it was great to meet so many people, and to hear your stories, including the two gentlemen from the Netherlands and another from Texas who had come to Argyll and the Isles specifically for Bowfest.

And we are delighted to be able to announce that the winner of our fantastic prize of bed and breakfast at the Loch Melfort Hotel and a three hour Corryvreckan and Wildlife boat trip with Sea-life Adventures is the Woodrow family from Aberfoyle.

But a festival has to have music and Bowfest certainly had this covered with 121 musicians which made up the 26 different acts over both days. Headliners were Skerryvore, Capercaillie and Skipinnish and it’s no exaggeration to say the Main Stage rocked!

Thank you to our hosts and all the organisers of this year’s Best of the West Festival, we’re proud to have taken part and already looking forward to next year!
New Chair for Tourism Co-operative New Chair for Tourism Co-operative
Added: 11 Sep 2014
Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) has announced the appointment of Inveraray Jail’s prison governor as its new chair.

Gavin Dick has taken over from Connie Lovel, who is leaving the region after four years for pastures new.

Gavin’s appointment was agreed this afternoon (Thursday, September 11) at AITC’s annual general meeting, held at Portavadie.

Gavin has been involved with AITC – which works to raise awareness of the region as a top quality visitor destination – as a founding director since its inception in 2012.

His elevation to chair was welcomed by Connie Lovel, who said she was leaving the organisation in a very safe pair of hands.

“Gavin has more than 30 years’ experience in the tourism industry, and his knowledge and expertise has been invaluable to AITC throughout the journey to date,” she added.

“As with each of AITC’s directors, Gavin is totally committed to overseeing the promotion of Argyll and the Isles as a world class destination.

“The next few years promise to be a very exciting time for tourism in this region, with AITC having secured a significant funding package. A large proportion of this money will be used to further enhance and improve the support it offers to the many local tourism and marketing associations across Argyll and the Isles, each of which seeks to increase visitor numbers and the impact of tourism in its own area.

“Given his experience in various different parts of the tourism sector, both within Argyll and the Isles and further afield, Gavin is the ideal person to take the organisation forward and ensure that the money AITC invests continues to attract the biggest possible return for our local associations and their members.”

Gavin said he was delighted to take up the challenge of chairing an organisation with such a pivotal role in the future of the region.

“We’re extremely fortunate in that Argyll and the Isles is the envy of much of the rest of Scotland and beyond because of its incredible natural beauty and diversity,” he said.

“That gives the AITC and the many local organisations it represents a rock solid foundation on which to continue to build a successful and sustainable tourism industry.

“It’s our job to ensure that Argyll and the Isles makes the most of the fantastic opportunities we have - not only in terms of ensuring as many people as possible know about what we have to offer, but also that they then come and experience it for themselves.

“I look forward to continuing to work with my fellow AITC directors in a bid to make the most of existing opportunities and identifying and nurturing new ones. It’s a challenge we relish, and we’re excited about where the next few years might take us.”

AITC also welcomed four new directors onto the Board, Paul Graham representing Visit Islay and Jura, Brian Keating for Visit Helensburgh, Niall Macalister Hall replaces Peter Stogdale, who has retired from AITC at the September AGM, for Explore Kintyre and Gigha and Chrissie Fleming who represents Visit Cowal.

Notes for editors:

The other AITC directors are Calum Ross of the Loch Melfort Hotel who will continue as AITC’s Vice Chair, Iain Jurgensen of Portavadie, Andrew Wilson of The Square Peg in Lochgilphead, David Currie of Highland Cottage in Tobermory, Fiona McPhail of Carry Farm near Tignabruaich, Paul Graham of An Taigh Osda on Islay, Brian Keating of URTV in Helensburgh, Niall Macalister Hall of Torrisdale Castle on Kintyre, and Chrissie Fleming of Argyll Self Catering based in Cowal.

Photo from left to right: Carron Tobin (AITC Development Manager), David Currie, Calum Ross, Niall Macalister Hall, Gavin Dick, Iain Jurgensen, Andrew Wilson, Brian Keating and Fiona McPhail
Argyll and the Isles tourism body seeks dynamic new agentsArgyll and the Isles tourism body seeks dynamic new agents
Added: 01 Sep 2014
The group tasked with raising awareness of Argyll and the Isles as a top quality visitor destination is about to significantly boost its presence on the ground.

Argyll & the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) has just launched a search for at least three ‘development agents’, who will work on a freelance basis with local marketing groups and tourist associations in a bid to boost tourism across the area.

The move comes following confirmation earlier this year that AITC had successfully secured a funding package of £135,000 per annum for the next three years, courtesy of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Argyll and Bute Council, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Co-operative’s own members and strategic partners.

The group has recently contracted Carron Tobin, its former project manager, as the new development manager for the next phase of its activity, which will include working with Calmac, Forestry Commission Scotland, Scottish Development International and VisitScotland on specific projects.

Now it is looking for dynamic new ‘development agents’ to work with local marketing and tourism groups across the region with a view to growing tourism capacity, boosting membership of the groups themselves, devising effective new action plans and tackling priority projects at a local level.

These agents will work on a freelance basis for up to 4 days a week from next month to March 2015, with a possibility that the contracts may be extended into the following two years.

They will each work in one of the three areas AITC has identified within Argyll and the Isles:

  • Area 1 – Oban & Lorn, Mull, Iona, Coll and Tiree

  • Area 2 – Mid Argyll, Kintyre, Gigha, Islay, Jura and Colonsay

  • Area 3 – Bute, Cowal, Loch Lomond and the Clyde Sea Lochs

Applicants will be asked to state their preference when they apply, including whether they are keen to cover the whole sub area or would prefer to only cover part of it and work fewer hours.

AITC chair Connie Lovel said appointing the new development agents is a major step in the ongoing campaign to enhance and expand tourism activity across the region.

“This is the start of an exciting new era for AITC, which has spent the last two years successfully delivering its ‘Stronger Together’ programme which attracted £300,000 in partnership funding,” she added.

“As part of the next phase of activity, we are now looking for at least three people who are not only passionate about Argyll and the Isles and all it has to offer, but also have the skills to channel that passion into helping our local tourism groups expand their activities.

“One of the key tasks will be to empower and build capacity within those local groups, as well as supporting them in successfully developing and implementing their own action plans and tackling priority projects at a local level.

“We know there are people across Argyll and the Isles with the skills and expertise to make a significant difference to the capacity, efficiency and effectiveness of our tourism and marketing groups, and I’m confident we’ll have a number of high quality applicants for the Development Agent posts.

“This is a hugely significant step for AITC, and the directors look forward to working with the successful applicants to help further promote this spectacular region and the areas within it as world-class ‘must see’ visitor destinations.”

AITC has spent the summer working with key partners in scoping out its priorities over the coming months.

It has also supported many events and activities, including last weekend’s successful Cowal Highland Gathering in Dunoon and will be at the celebrated Best of the West festival in Inveraray on September 13/14.

Over the same weekend, AITC will be joining forces with Food from Argyll at the Eat, Drink, Discover Scotland event at Ingliston. The co-operative is also working with Scottish Canals, Tarbert Harbour Authority and others to ensure the region has a good presence at this year’s Scottish Boat Show at Inverkip from October 10-12.

If any additional evidence was needed that AITC still has its foot firmly on the accelerator pedal even as the traditional tourism season nears its end, a cohort of directors, along with the development manager, have recently been accepted by Edinburgh Napier University to undertake the Scottish Enterprise Destination Leaders Executive Certificate programme over the winter.

If you would like to apply to become one of AITC’s development agents click and download the file below.
Attachments: Download File
Rousing finale to 2014 Cowal Highland GatheringRousing finale to 2014 Cowal Highland Gathering
Added: 31 Aug 2014
As family days out go, this one was surely hard to beat.

Thousands of people from across the world gathered in Dunoon today for the finale of the celebrated Cowal Highland Gathering.

Competitors and spectators alike joined forces to ensure the event’s spectacular Saturday was a day to remember for everyone involved.

From the hundreds of dancers and pipers to the heavy athletes, runners, ceilidh tent performers, stunt cyclists and many other entertainers on show, every participant contributed to what was a fantastic day’s entertainment.

The standard of competition was breathtaking, with many of the world’s top competitors giving their all in a bid go home with the silverware.

One of the highlights of the Gathering’s final day – and one of the most fiercely contested – was, as always, the Cowal Pipe Band Championship.

This year, Inveraray & District Pipe Band managed to hold off the challenge of Lomond & Clyde (2nd) and Oban Pipe Band (3rd) to be crowned winners of the Grade 1 Cowal Pipe Band Championships 2014.

In the other sections and grades, the Cowal Pipe Band champions were:

Novice juvenile – Oban High School
Juvenile – Oban HighSchool
Grade 4- Coalburn IOR Pipe Band
Grade 3 – Johnstone Pipe Band
Grade 2 – Lomond & Clyde

Inveraray & District also won the Best Band on Parade. The champion juvenile drum major was Emma Barr from the Police Service of Northern Ireland, and the champion adult drum major was Brian Wilson MBE of Lomond & Clyde, who also won the Mace over the Bar competition.

Today also saw the Argyllshire Highland Dancing competitions, with top honours going to Lisa McGillvray from Dunoon winning the under 13 years, Katie MacPherson from Oban won the under 16 years and Courtney Cowden from Dunoon in the 16 years and over.

Then came the biggest Highland Dancing competition in the world – the World Championship finals - with dancers from as far afield as Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA pitting their skills against the best the UK has to offer.

In the end, it was Erin Blair from the USA who triumphed in the World Juvenile finals, followed by Sophie Dunn from Canada (2nd) with Emma Schiffs from the USA in third. The trophy for the best Scottish Juvenile Dancer went to Ellie Dalrymple from Tranent.

By far the biggest cheer of the day came when the results of the World Junior championship were announced. Abbie MacNeil from Glasgow, who came second last year, went one better this year by being crowned World Champion, pushing the 2013 winner Maegan Sweeney from Canada into 2nd and Kaylee Finnegan from the USA into third.

The Adult World champion was Marielle Lesperance from Canada, followed by Aberdeen’s Rebecca Thow and Canada’s Chantal Watt.

At 2pm, back at the Burgh Hall, brave runners lined up for what must be one of the toughest 5K runs in the country – the Cowal Hill Race.

This year, it was won by Stanley Topalion from Westerlands Cross Country Club (Westies), with Paul Monaghan (Glenpark Harriers) second and Rod Fleming (Westies) third.

The first local home was Richard Reid. The winner of the women’s race was Ruth Joss of Shettleston Harriers, followed by Dunoon Hill Runners’ Lisa Marshall and Monica Thompson.

Throughout the afternoon, four of the world’s hottest traditional music bands entertained the crowds in the now-famous ceilidh tent.

Leading the pack once again was Oban-based Skipinnish, who brought the house down when they headlined the show last year and who also wowed the crowds at last night’s family ceilidh.

Today, they were joined by three of the hottest up and coming names on the traditional music scene – Hell for Leather, the Argyll Ceilidh Trail and the Reel Time Ceilidh Band.

While they were playing, the heavy athletes and wrestlers battled it out for top honours.

Jason Young triumphed in the men’s heavy athletics, with Heisi Geirmundsson from Iceland second and Bruce Robb third.

In the women’s competition, Lucy Marshall from England beat off the competition from Sylvana Bomholt (2nd) and Laura Gillespie (3rd).

Jason and Lucy were also crowned Cowal caber toss champions.

In the wrestling, the Female Open section was won by Eva Dogg Johandottir from Iceland, with Poline Sellin from Brittany second and Glasgow’s Erin McNeil third.

In the men’s Open competition, Iceland again triumphed with Olafur Siggnurson crowned champion, followed by Carnoustie’s Ryan Dolan (2nd) and Iceland’s Asmundur Asmundurson (3rd).

The weight category winners were Fredric Leyguydar from Brittany in the 9 and a half stone category, Gerald Brunou (Brittany) in 11 and a half stone, Scott Casrson (Aberdeen) in 13 and a half stone and Ryan Dolan (Carnoustie) in the 15 and a half category.

In total, there were 11 wrestlers from Brittany, 11 from Scotland and four from Iceland – a very impressive turnout which attracted enthusiastic support throughout the day.

This year, there was a bigger and better selection of entertainment for all ages than ever before.

One of the most popular draws proved to be the Clan mountain bike stunt team, which performed three gravity-defying shows to packed audiences.

Among the other new attractions were the Drakes of Hazard Duck and Dog display team and Glasgow Science Centre’s pop up 3D cinema.

A highlight for the younger visitors was once again ‘Artie’s Tartan Tales’. Veteran entertainer Artie Trezise – who spent 30 years as one half of The Singing Kettle - uses a tartan trunk full of souvenirs and trinkets as props for his traditional but interactive Scottish storytelling sessions.

Cowal Highland Gathering chair Ronnie Cairns said this weekend would go down as an exciting start to a new era for the famous event.

“The organising committee has worked very hard over the last year to ensure that the Gathering continues to evolve and improve, while at the same time retaining its core competitive and cultural elements,” he added.

“I hope the thousands of people who were here today were impressed by the quality and range of entertainment the event now offers.

“Of course the traditional elements of a highland gathering remain the foundation, but onto that solid base we are busy building a bright new future for this wonderful event.

“I am confident that having a broader range of attractions than we’ve had in the past not only improves the spectator experience for our regular supporters and spectators, but will also attract new visitors for the future.”

Ronnie made a point of thanking the Gathering’s sponsors – as well the people of Dunoon and the wider Cowal community – for their support for the 2014 event.

“On behalf of the Gathering’s organisers, I would like to thank everyone who has worked so hard over the last few months to ensure that the event was a success,” Ronnie said.

“I’d also like to thank the thousands of people who have come out to support the Gathering over the last three days. We’ve welcomed spectators not just from Argyll and Bute and Scotland more generally but from right around the globe, and the feedback we’ve received has been overwhelmingly positive.

“We’ll continue to look at ways to further improve the event in the future. We’re already looking towards the 2015 Gathering, and we’re looking forward to welcoming competitors and spectators back to Dunoon next August.”

Craig Anderson, Managing Director of The Scottish Salmon Company commented, ‘The Cowal Gathering is a wonderful celebration of Scottish culture and traditions. We are extremely proud to support our local communities as well as being involved in such a key date in the Argyll calendar, in the build up to the event and on the day itself.’

Paul Bush OBE, Chief Operating Officer for EventScotland said: “The Cowal Gathering has once again proven to be a hugely successful event, which showcases Scotland’s rich cultural heritage. Bringing together thousands of people from around the world, the World Highland Dancing Championship finals and the coveted Cowal Pipe Band Championship were certainly highlights from the weekend. Scotland is the perfect stage for events, and with spectators travelling to Argyll and Bute for the Gathering we will undoubtedly see economic and tourism impacts for the area this year.”

Residents and visitors are already starting to line the streets for the event’s finale this evening – the massing of the bands and their march down Argyll Street.

The final act of this year’s Gathering will be the Western Ferries firework display at Dunoon pier, starting at 9.00pm.

A full list of the results of all today’s action will be posted on the website as soon as possible.

This year’s Cowal Highland Gathering – which took place in association with headline sponsor Scottish Salmon Company and charity partner Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS) - was supported by EventScotland, the national events agency.

For more information please visit the Gathering’s website at or contact the event office by emailing or phoning 01369 703206.


Notes to editors

EventScotland: EventScotland is working to make Scotland the perfect stage for events. By developing an exciting portfolio of sporting and cultural events EventScotland is helping to raise Scotland’s international profile and boost the economy by attracting more visitors. For further information about EventScotland, its funding programmes and latest event news visit Follow EventScotland on Twitter @EventScotNews. EventScotland is part of VisitScotland, the national tourism organisation which markets Scotland as a tourism destination across the world, gives support to the tourism industry and brings sustainable tourism growth to Scotland.
Going dotty over Artmap Argyll!Going dotty over Artmap Argyll!
Added: 26 Aug 2014
Last weekend saw the annual Artmap Argyll Open Studios weekend when 43 artists across Argyll and the Isles threw open their doors over four days and welcomed the public in to have a look around their creative spaces

Known as the red dot trail, each participating artist is given a number and a red dot which is displayed at the entrance to their studio, it is a fantastic event and a great way to join the dots! Dots, of course, come in all shapes and sizes and Artmap Argyll artists were incredibly creative this year. Balls of red wool, bunting, bouys and spades all played their part as did red dot wellies and our favourite, glass ladybirds!

Visitors are given a card and they collect red dots as they travel from studio to studio. When they have a minimum of seven stickers they are eligible to take part in a prize draw which has a £200 prize to spend on the work of any of the Artmap artists.

As well as the ‘hard work’ of looking at the fantastic range of art taking place right here on our doorstep, we were forced to eat biscuits, drink coffee and take selfies with the artists, it’s a tough job!

While the open studios weekend is an annual event, Artmap Argyll is active all year. Pick up one of their directories and contact an artist directly to see their work, you will find an online directory at You’ll also find Artmap Argyll at events and exhibitions around the area – they’re active on social media too - find them on Facebook at or follow them on Twitter @ArtmapArgyll.

There’s a lot going on in Argyll and the Isles!There’s a lot going on in Argyll and the Isles!
Added: 21 Aug 2014
If you’re looking for something to do this weekend then you’ll be spoilt for choice!

The Artmap Argyll Open Studios weekend runs from 22 – 25 August. This year 43 artists are throwing open the doors to their studios and welcoming you into look at the work they create in these inspirational spaces. There are painters, photographers, glass artists and sculptors. Add weavers and wood turners to the mix and you can see why this is one of the most eagerly anticipated weekends of the year. Pick up one of the Artmap Argyll leaflets and find out which studios are closest to you. Then all you have to do is join the dots!

In Kintyre, the Mull of Kintyre Music Festival takes place from 20 – 24 August and is a celebration of traditional and contemporary Scottish and Irish music. Based in Campbeltown, the Festival has a great mix of free outdoor events, concerts, ceilidhs, music sessions, workshops, children’s entertainment, parades, cultural and heritage tours in large venues and intimate halls.

This year’s main bands are The View, Braebach, Soig Siberil, Marc Duff and Hamish Napier with many more to be confirmed.

And at Kilberry Church, 11 miles west of Tarbert, you’ll find their Flower Festival – The Fruits of Our Labours which runs from 22 – 24 August.

You’ll find details of upcoming events on our Events page
Attachments: Download File
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