Once again, I am going to make the claim that Scotland is better than every other country in the world at something; this month that it is - the perfect stage for events.
Tuesday (15 September) saw our events directorate launch the new events strategy, which aims to ensure that Scotland is recognised across the globe for its strong and dynamic events industry.
The original strategy launched in 2008 performed exceptionally, culminating in the triumvirate of last year’s XX Commonwealth Games, Ryder Cup and Homecoming Scotland 2014. The new strategy builds on this momentum and draws out a clear and evolutionary path for Scotland’s events sector.
Part of the strategy is to continue planning and bidding for big one-off events and mega events. I love these events. I was helping at stage three of the Tour of Britain last week near Kelso and the local community were out in force to support this exciting event coming to a finish at Floors Castle. I was at the FEI European Eventing Championships last weekend at Blair Atholl too, which is an incredibly well orchestrated event over four days welcoming over 60,000 people to the Perthshire countryside.
Riders coming over the finish line at Floors Castle for Stage 3 of the Tour of Britain.
Both these events are globally-recognised with international competitors taking part and worldwide television coverage but both have their own local community aspects to them. Local businesses were at both events, alongside the main sponsors, providing local produce and products to visitors.
The local cycling clubs in Kelso even got the chance to ride some of the Tour of Britain course and were cheered by the fans as they came down the finishing straight! I wish I’d taken my bike…
That said, it’s by no means all about major events – this strategy aims to better empower local authorities, community groups and destination management organisations to develop and refine their own events. This allows people to promote and celebrate the communities in Scotland’s regions that deliver outstanding events all year round that many may never have heard of, but really should.
Another event I attended this year was the inaugural ButeFest, on the Isle of Bute. Like many smaller music festivals around Scotland it was developed and delivered by a group of local people with a passion for their island, Scottish music, culture and local food and drink. They had actively invested a lot personal time and effort to make sure it went off without a hitch.
By creating these events, these groups are helping to attract new visitors to your region so do what you can to see where support is needed and provide added-value offers to those attending such as those offered by The Knowe B&B in Dumfries & Galloway during the Year of Homecoming 2014.
A rider clears a cross-country jump in front of Blair Castle at the FEI European Eventing Championships.
Events and festivals don’t just provide entertainment – they represent a multi-million pound opportunity to boost jobs as well as deliver cultural and social benefits.
Partnership and collaboration are key themes in this strategy, encouraging multi-agency and industry approaches to all events and festivals. The strategy aligns with the Scottish Tourism Alliance’s Tourism Scotland 2020, which identifies events and festivals as two of four key assets that provide authentic experiences for visitors.
It would be remiss of me not to mention infrastructure improvements with the Borders Railway launch having taken place this month, opening up events like the Melrose 7s and the Borders Book Festival to those who wish to travel by train.
Whilst we are brilliant at promoting our wonderful scenery and landscapes, we sometimes forget that we pride ourselves on our people and the warmth of our welcome.
In the same way that creating new and exciting events and festivals on any scale attracts people to our regions, so does showcasing these in our promotional material. Why not show people having a great time at one of the many events or festivals happening near you in your marketing? Try to create some sort of offer or added-value promotion around one of the thousands of events and festivals that you can find on our events calendar on visitscotland.com.
Whether its major events such as the World Gymnastics Championships or Turner Prize or smaller community events such as the Oban Winter Festival or Balmaha’s Braw Weekend , get these on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and show people enjoying their #BrilliantMoments.
Our beautiful landscape rarely changes but the events and festivals we host improve every year.