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Sub-heading: Arran takes the chair of new group
By Hugh Boag
A new tourist body has been formed to drive a collective way forward for the tourism industry in Ayrshire and Arran following the pandemic.
Industry leaders from across region have come together to form a new destination management and marketing organisation for the region – Ayrshire & Arran Destination Alliance.
Over the past year, industry leaders have stepped up to try and drive forward recovery, working collaboratively with local and national government to focus on the challenges faced by one of Ayrshire’s key sectors.
Earlier this year, industry leaders appointed international destination experts, in2destination, to conduct research on behalf of the region to shape thinking around the development of sustainable visitor management across Ayrshire.
With input from North, South and East Ayrshire councils, along with businesses and residents, the research highlights that tourism is overwhelmingly a ‘force for good’ contributing more than £600 million of visitor spend and supporting over 13,000 jobs regionally – but there was a need for more cohesion and joint working across the whole region.
Building on this research, AADA worked collaboratively with VisitScotland, Scottish Enterprise and local authorities to successfully deliver a series of industry events throughout May and June attracting almost 200 industry representatives to look at areas of best practice from across the UK.
Through this work, Ayrshire & Arran Destination Alliance was developed and launched as an industry-led destination management and marketing organisation for the region.
The organisation will operate on a not-for-profit basis, working collaboratively to grow the visitor economy sustainably to deliver benefits for businesses and communities.
As part of this move, AADA has taken on management of The Coig – a collaborative tourist route project – and will continue to promote this as part of the regional offer.
The first chair of the new Alliance is Arran’s Linda Johnston from Auchrannie Resort.
She said: ‘We are incredibly excited to announce the launch of Ayrshire & Arran Destination Alliance.
‘It has been formed with a very clear intention – as the regional destination management and marketing organisation we want to make sure that visitors to this region have outstanding experiences, whilst balancing this with the needs of our amazing communities and environment which make this region so special.
‘We have a huge amount of experience amongst our voluntary industry board, existing marketing channels reaching tens of thousands of visitors each month, an exceptional team already in place, and a range of exciting work planned over the coming weeks.
‘Working closely with other sectoral, destination, and community groups, and our public sector partners, we believe we can help to bring cohesion and focus to future tourism development for the region.’
Welcoming the launch of AADA, VisitScotland CEO Malcolm Roughead said: ‘The past year has been incredibly challenging for businesses up and down the country, but we know that tourism is resilient and will bounce back.
‘We can only achieve this by working together so I am delighted to be working with industry leaders through Ayrshire & Arran Destination Alliance to make sure that we grab the opportunities ahead and manage tourism responsibly to create real sustainable benefits for everyone.’
Paul McCafferty, head of tourism for Scottish Enterprise, said: ‘I’m delighted to see industry coming together, demonstrating strong leadership and a clear vision to drive forward activity to attract visitors who are critically important to the economy, sustainability and growth of communities.
‘There is no doubt that tourism plays a vital role within the regional economy of Ayrshire, and we look forward to working closely with AADA to recover and regrow sustainably over the next few years.’
Ayrshire & Arran Destination Alliance will be communicating widely with businesses and groups across the region over the coming weeks to share plans and gain wide input to the future direction of the alliance.