Working together to reopen tourism

Malcolm Roughead

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With lockdown restrictions due to be eased next month VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead talks about the recovery of tourism in Ayrshire and Arran and the establishment of a new tourism strategic group in the region.

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‘As we look forward to the reopening of tourism in Scotland once again, following the announcement of indicative dates last week, it is with renewed optimism in Ayrshire and Arran.

The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on the tourism and events industry in Scotland and has changed the lives of people right across the country. We won’t just be able to push a button and tourism will recover – we have had a year of very little investment, job losses and business closures and it will take time and significant support to get us back to a thriving industry.

But what we do know is that with the right support, tourism can lead the economic recovery and boost inward investment where it is needed most.

In Ayrshire and Arran, tourism is worth more than £600million and its importance to the economic recovery of the region has been recognised with the formation of a new industry group to drive forward recovery.

For the last nine months, I have had the opportunity as chairman of the Ayrshire Visitor Economy Strategy Group (AVESG), a sub-group of the Ayrshire Economic Partnership, to bring together representatives from the tourism industry in Ayrshire and Arran to work together to support the recovery of this vital part of Scotland’s economy.

The group – which includes tourism industry representation as well as representatives from North, South and East Ayrshire Councils, Scottish Enterprise, Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce, The Coig, VisitArran and the Scottish Tourism Alliance – was established with the aim of providing new focus for the tourism industry in the region.

We have met several times in recent months to set out and develop a programme of tourism destination developments to champion all that Ayrshire and Arran has to offer and tackle regional recovery.

It is an important step for tourism across the region. Led by the industry, for the industry, the group aims to bring a fresh approach to creating a successful, collaborative, and thriving environment to drive forward success.

By coming together, tourism businesses can play their own part in ensuring the future of tourism across the region. We know we have a long road ahead of us but working in collaboration will make the journey stronger and more effective.

As we start to prepare for the reopening of tourism once again, the group will continue to progress work across the key themes of digital development, marketing, product development and destination management. We will continue to keep tourism businesses informed of these developments to help spread the word and encourage engagement.

Tourism businesses are being encouraged to sign up to VisitScotland’s closed industry Facebook group to keep up-to-date with developments from the group and find out how to get involved, as well as finding out the latest regional tourism news and opportunities.’