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Ayrshire Tourism Forging Ahead

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The tourism industry in Ayrshire is putting a plan in place, to help secure the future of one of the region’s most important economic drivers. 

Around 120 businesses and tourism representatives from across Ayrshire and Arran came together for the Ayrshire and Arran Tourism Conference at the Carlton Hotel Prestwick (Wednesday 15th March). 

The event was hosted by the Ayrshire and Arran Destination Alliance and supported by RAD Hotel Group, Scottish Enterprise and VisitScotland.  

Delegates heard how pre-pandemic tourism was worth £604 million pounds annually to Ayrshire and provided 13,000 jobs. In 2019, there were 2,980,000 visitor nights in Ayrshire and including day visits, 11,190,000 visits in total. There were 520,000 international overnights, 182,000 from North America and 177,000 from Europe. 

The conference was told Ayrshire has a very strong overall score on Trip Advisor of 4.38 out of 5 and those visitors are drawn to the region’s scenery, welcome and great variety of things to do.  

Discussions focused on the ambition to deliver responsible growth, creating jobs, sustaining communities and contributing significantly to the economy.   

The newly developed Ayrshire and Our Islands Visitor Economy Strategy was unveiled, at the heart is a significant partnership approach for the region. It is supported by Ayrshire and Arran Destination Alliance, East Ayrshire, North Ayrshire and South Ayrshire Councils, Scottish Enterprise and VisitScotland.  

The aims of the strategy are to help to deliver economic recovery following the pandemic but with an emphasis on the natural environment, to benefit visitors’ well-being and aid social regeneration. Key to the success of the strategy is collaborating across local authority boundaries so residents, businesses and the whole region can benefit from the visitor economy. 

There are four regional strategic priorities which align with the national tourism strategy Scotland Outlook 2030 based on great visitor experiences, business growth, our talented people and looking after the environment.  

The Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise Ivan McKee MSP said: “I was delighted to open the Ayrshire and Arran Tourism conference today and help launch the “Ayrshire and our Islands Visitor Economy Strategy”, which is aligned with the aims of Outlook 2030 and the Scottish Government’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation.

“The area has a lot to offer both national and international visitors, and is world famous as the land of our national bard Rabbie Burns. The strategy will help boost the attractiveness of the area in a sustainable and forward looking manner.

“It is also a great opportunity to recognise the hard work of the Ayrshire and Arran Destination Alliance who have shown what can be achieved when local authorities, public bodies and local businesses and organisations work together in partnership.”

VisitScotland’s CEO and Co-Chair of Ayrshire and Arran Visitor Economy Leadership Group Malcolm Roughead said: “This is a significant moment for tourism in the region with a refreshed ‘team Ayrshire’ approach, to build on the shoots of recovery in tourism and events, one of Scotland’s most valuable industries. Our insights tell us that visitors are seeking rest and relaxation and Ayrshire’s miles of countryside, coastline and islands offer those restorative experiences in abundance. Together with harnessing the collective ideas, creativity and entrepreneurship across the public, private and third sector partners, we can drive domestic and international tourism.”

Linda Johnston, Executive Chair of Auchrannie Resort and Chair of Ayrshire and Arran Destination Alliance said: “Businesses in Ayrshire and Arran are excited to see the launch of new Strategy and Action Plan for the region and hope that we can now move on at pace to deliver the plan.  We are confident that through effective collaboration and joint resourcing, this work will boost Ayrshire’s visibility as a great holiday destination as well as improving tourism infrastructure and driving greater economic prosperity to our communities.”

Simon Houison-Craufurd, MD of Craufurdland Estate and Co-Chair of the Ayrshire and Arran Visitor Economy Leadership Group said: “This is an important milestone for the Ayrshire Visitor Economy and it’s success in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Our regional partnership approach will see a new vigour in the region.” 

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Ayrshire Tourism Forging Ahead 

The Ayrshire and Arran Tourism Conference brought together around 120 businesses and tourism representatives to discuss responsible growth and economic recovery. The event unveiled the newly developed Ayrshire and Our Islands Visitor Economy Strategy, emphasising collaboration and the importance of the natural environment.

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