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A major initiative to promote the Ayrshire and the Clyde islands as a tourism destination is celebrating a successful first year, reaching a potential audience of more than 25 million people despite the global pandemic.
The Coig – Gaelic for five – was launched as a not-for-profit industry led organisation at the start of 2020, promoting five routes which join up the region and market the whole of Ayrshire and the Clyde islands of Arran, Bute, and Cumbrae as a tourist destination for the very first time.
Campaigns have targeted potential leisure visitors from the UK and Ireland, encouraging them to visit Ayrshire and the Clyde Islands when travel restrictions allowed. Activity has been coordinated with a range of regional and national partners, from the development of new online content, the creation of new partnerships and digital marketing campaigns to press trips and social media.
The success of the first year of the initiative has been highlighted by VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead, who chairs the Ayrshire Visitor Economy Strategy Group (AVESG), as he addressed the collaborative work on recovery of tourism in Ayrshire & Arran and the establishment of a new tourism strategic group in the region this week.
Mr Roughead said: ‘The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on the tourism 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 the passion of the industry is clear and, despite the incredible challenges, the first year of The Coig has been a major success and has helped promote the wealth of fantastic experiences on offer across Ayrshire and the Clyde Islands, presenting it all together with a series of inter-connected routes for the first time.”
Chief executive of The Coig, Daniel Steel, said: ‘It’s been the most challenging first year imaginable, but with the support of industry and strong collaborations with regional and national partners, the reach of The Coig has grown quickly showing the appetite for our routes around Ayrshire and the Clyde islands.
‘We have been totally focused on helping our businesses and communities throughout the past year, using our quickly growing channels to underline messaging about supporting local, travelling responsibly, and working together. These principles will continue to be core as we move forward, and out of lockdown over the coming weeks, and we have lots more planned over the coming months to make sure that we play a key role in regional recovery.”
Gillian Black, director of sales at The Marine Hotel, Troon, said: “The Coig is an amazing initiative that caught the attention of our potential travel trade clients during ‘Scotland Reconnect’ appointments a few months ago.
The event itself was a great opportunity to showcase The Marine Hotel and our unique Ayrshire region. International clients were delighted with the information on The Coig routes as it became apparent that operators were looking for “something different”, and this makes Ayrshire and the Clyde Islands an ideal choice. We were pleased to share what a superb destination Ayrshire is for travellers looking to experience a region offering such unique, scenic backdrops and rich history. We hope we will be able to welcome our international visitors back later this year.’