The Ayrshire and Arran Tourism Team, set up in 2012 and funded by the three Ayrshire local authorities to maximise the tourism potential of the region has reported a series of successes in developing the local area as a prime tourist destination after just 24 months.
In the area, tourism supports 8,900 jobs and benefits from 3.5 million visitors, spending almost £350 million each year.
Key areas for development in the Team’s plan include golf, watersports, cycling, walking and culture and heritage – all of which will be promoted and marketed in the UK and abroad, to entice visitors to visit, stay and enjoy all that’s on offer in Ayrshire and Arran.
Led by South Ayrshire Council, the Ayrshire and Arran Tourism Team is working with the industry, targeting an increase of 10% on visitor numbers, with a goal of developing spend of £418 million which will increase employment and just 24 months after it was established, progress is being made.
The team reported that their industry website, www.ayrshire-arran.org has seen 350 tourism businesses registering to be part of the tourism development programme.
38 different golf clubs have also been brought together to look at ways of creating a regional approach to golf marketing – sharing business opportunities, making promotion and procurement more efficient and to make it easier for residents and visitors to play on different courses, book tee times and enjoy the sport.
A similar approach is being taken to promote walking and cycling, offering a consistent approach for signage, local information, parking and route development, all maximising the very best of the area’s fantastic scenery and beautiful coastal landscape.
New signposting has also been introduced at key cultural attractions in the area, each directing visitors to further experiences and sites in the region, linking these and again offering a consistent feel to the visitor experience.
The stunning coastline offered by Ayrshire and Arran has also been a priority for the team and a partnership with the Firth of Clyde Forum and the Royal Yachting Association Scotland resulted in the launch of www.watersportscoast.com where information about a host of exciting sports and leisure activities from kayaking to diving and windsurfing to powerboating can be accessed and booked by way of a handy interactive map of the region.
Links with VisitScotland resulted in the development of new itineraries to encourage visitors to explore the region through visiting the many places associated with the life of Robert Burns exploiting his legacy during Scotland’s Year of Homecoming 2014. Familiarisation visits for coach operators and holiday firms have seen fifty new bookings (with potential for 2,000 new visitors) in 2014.
Lesley Bloomer, South Ayrshire Council’s Executive Director for Economy, Neighbourhood and Environment said: “Tourism is a crucial part of the economy for Ayrshire and Arran and the progress made to maximise this in its first two years is very encouraging.
“Working in partnership with public bodies and private enterprise our aim is to build on the momentum of this excellent start and to fully promote and celebrate the very best of what Ayrshire and Arran tourism has to offer.”
Moira Birtwistle, Chair of the Ayrshire and Arran Tourism Team added: “Ayrshire and Arran is an area of outstanding natural beauty with lots to offer residents and visitors.
“Tourism has long been one of this area’s main economic drivers, but the market is changing, with people demanding new experiences and maximum value for money.
“The tourism team’s report is most encouraging and makes it clear that future success lies with us all working together to ensure that this area is at the top of people’s lists when deciding where to go and how to spend their leisure time.”