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All aboard for Oban

Press release   •   Jun 13, 2017 15:28 BST

Arriving at the Perle Oban Hotel for the Board and stakeholders meetings, VisitScotland Chairman Lord Thurso was met by General Manager Jerome Chevet and Restaurant Manager Heather Bland. Photo credit: Kevin McGlynn

VisitScotland Chairman John Thurso and members of the national tourism organisation’s Board visited Oban last week (8 June) to meet key Argyll & The Isles industry partners at the Perle Oban on the first month anniversary of the hotel’s official opening.

As part of VisitScotland Board’s Engagement Strategy, a series of meetings are being held around the country to enable the Chairman and Board members to hear directly from industry stakeholders in order to gain a better understanding of both positive developments as well as challenges facing the tourism industry across the regions

VisitScotland works closely with a range of organisations including Argyll & Bute CouncilArgyll & The Isles Tourism Cooperative (AITC), and Highlands and Islands Enterprise as well as a host of companies including Calmac Ferries and West Coast Motors as well as local tourism and hospitality businesses to support the high quality tourism offering that is vital to the future sustainability of the economy of Argyll & The Isles.

Tourism is at the centre of economic success in the region, supporting 6000 jobs, sustaining communities, generating £81 million in gross value added for the local economy and providing a shop window for business activity.

Prior to their visit, the Board had been briefed on important new projects underway across the region including:

  • Lorn ARC (Council TIF Infrastructure) £144m
  • Mount Stuart/Bute Estate (tourism development) £8m
  • Machrie, Islay (resort development) £18m
  • Premier Inn, Oban £6m
  • Ardnahoe Distillery, Islay
  • Tobermory Bakery
  • Crinan Canal towpath £1m
  • Rothesay Pavilion £11m
  • CHORD (Campbeltown, Helensburgh, Oban, Rothesay and Dunoon regeneration project)Dunoon £11m and Helensburgh £7m

VisitScotland Regional Director David Adams McGilp also showed Lord Thurso the construction site of Oban’s new £7 million transit berthing and associated maritime visitor facilities. He also highlighted other marine and coastal developments including investment in pontoons and shore facilities in Campbeltown and smaller scale marine infrastructure improvements such as those on Tiree and Gigha.

The round table meeting and stakeholders’ dinner at the Perle Oban was attended by: Fergus Murray - Head of Economic Development, Argyll & Bute Council; Fraser Durie - Principal, Argyll College, University of the Highlands and Islands; David Smart - Head of Special Projects, Highlands and Islands Enterprise; Colin Craig - Chief Executive of West Coast Motors, David Cannon - Group Public Affairs Manager of CalMac Ferries Ltd; Gavin Dick - Chair of Inveraray Marketing Group/Inveraray Jail. Carron Tobin - Development Manager of Rural Dimensions and Argyll & The Isles Tourism Cooperative also attended and provided an update on AITC’s innovative ‘Wild About Argyll’ campaign, which has been supported by £40,000 through VisitScotland’s Growth Fund. Attending the dinner too was VisitScotland Regional Director David Adams McGilp.

At Loch Melfort Hotel in Arduaine on the previous evening, the Chairman also met and had dinner with: Cleland Sneddon, Chief Executive of Argyll & Bute Council; Andrew Wilson – Chairman of Heart of Argyll Tourism Alliance; Niall McAllister-Hall, of Torrisdale Castle and Explore Argyll; Linda Battison of Cologin Self-Catering and Oban & Lorn Tourism Alliance; and local hotel and resort expert Beppo Buchanan-Smith.

Lord Thurso said: “Our visit to Oban was extremely informative and valuable. As the national tourism organisation, one of our top priorities is to ensure effective partnership working with our colleagues in the industry so it’s vital that we get a chance to speak directly to our stakeholders. We try to create opportunities for our industry partners to meet with us to discuss their achievements locally as well as the challenges they face. Taking our Board meetings out and about around the country to the places and people that embody the Spirit of Scotland is a great way of doing that.”

Notes to Editors

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  • VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
  • The organisation’s core objective is to contribute to the Tourism 2020 Strategy ambition of growing tourism revenues by £1 billion by 2020.
  • This will be supported by seven overarching strategies:
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    2. Events: we will support the national events strategy and its delivery, and sustain, develop and promote Scotland’s international profile as one of the world’s foremost events destinations
    3. Internationalisation and International Engagement: we will utilise all our platforms to enable Scottish-based tourism businesses to better understand international opportunities and market to a global audience and we will work within One Scotland Partnerships to optimise the potential of Scotland’s Diaspora and our strategic partners at regional, European and global levels
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    5. Quality and Sustainability: we will provide support and advice to businesses, with the goal of improving the quality and sustainability of the tourism sector in Scotland. We will provide quality assurance to visitors through our Quality Schemes
    6. Inclusive Tourism: we will strive to make tourism in Scotland inclusive and available to all
    7. Working in Partnership: we will listen to and work with the industry, partners and communities to shape our offering and support
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  • The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
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  • 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology
  • 2017 is the year to delve into the past and discover Scotland’s fascinating stories through a wide-ranging variety of new and existing activity to drive the nation’s tourism and events sector, boosting tourism across Scotland.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology begins on 1 January 2017 and will end on 31 December 2017. It will build on the momentum generated by previous themed years in Scotland including the 2015 Year of Food and Drink, Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Creative Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Built Environment Forum Scotland, Heritage Lottery Fund, Museums Galleries Scotland and Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is supported by £570,000 of Scottish Government funding.
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  • For more information visit or join the conversation at #HHA2017