One of Scotland’s oldest family businesses has become one of only four five-star tours in the west of Scotland following a grading from VisitScotland.
Sweeney’s Cruise Co, operating boats on Loch Lomond since the 1880s, has received the top grading from the national tourism organisation’s Quality Assurance (QA) Scheme in recognition of its exceptional standards. The QA Scheme is a benchmark for quality across the tourism industry and operates across accommodation, visitor attractions and food sectors.
Based in Balloch, the business started out as a few rowing boats but now operates one of Scotland’s most luxurious passenger fleets, offering eight different cruises on board five vessels. After over 130 years, it has come to know every inch of Loch Lomond’s 23 miles, varied wildlife and wealth of history, legend and folklore.
Current manager John Sweeney, the fifth generation of his family to run the company, is always looking to improve the visitor experience, and has joined an impressive network of VisitScotland Information Partners (VIPs) committed to providing local information. The VIP programme looks to harness the local knowledge, warmth and enthusiasm of partners across the country to help visitors receive the warmest of welcomes and make the most of their trip to Scotland.
The business also enlisted the vocal talents of Neil Oliver, best known for presenting the BBC documentary Coast, in 2013 to enrich the tours for its patrons. Due to Oliver’s international acclaim, Sweeney’s have reported a significant increase in visitors from countries like Australia and New Zealand.
The company has plans to expand the variety of high quality onboard dining options for charters and special events. This will be spearheaded by new head chef Joanne Hamilton who brings with her a wealth of experience after travelling the world catering for celebrities.
John Sweeney, Manager of Sweeney’s Cruise Co, said: “It’s great to receive this award from VisitScotland. We’ve been offering boat tours on Loch Lomond for well over a century and in the last five years we’ve put in a lot of time and effort into getting ourselves a five-star grading. We are delighted to see all the hard work has paid off.”
David Adams McGilp, VisitScotland Regional Director, said: “Congratulations to Sweeney’s Cruise Co on this outstanding achievement. It is a testament to the hard work put in by the Sweeney family and their fantastic team to achieve these exceptional standards.
“Our Quality Assurance Scheme is world-leading and provides a trusted, independent and impartial source of information for visitors. It is about much more than just a star rating – it is about the entire visitor experience and investing in the business to make it as economically sustainable, and profitable, as it can be.”
VisitScotland star awards are indicators of quality and provide reassurance to visitors. The national tourism organisation offers support to businesses to ensure they meet and exceed the high standards expected by visitors.
For more information about Sweeney’s Cruise Co go to www.sweeneyscruiseco.com
For more details about the Quality Assurance Scheme and the VisitScotland Information Partner programme go to www.visitscotland.org
Notes to Editors
- Follow us on twitter: @visitscotnews
- 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 five overarching strategies: Marketing, Events, Quality and Sustainability, Inclusive Tourism, International Engagement.
- The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
- Spending by tourists in Scotland generates around £12 billion of economic activity in the wider Scottish supply chain and contributes around £6 billion to Scottish GDP (in basic prices). This represents about 5% of total Scottish GDP
- For VisitScotland’s press releases go to http://www.visitscotland.org/media_centre.aspx, tourism statistics and frequently asked questions go to http://www.visitscotland.org/
- Where possible, a Gaelic speaker will be made available for broadcast interviews on request (Far an tèid iarraidh, agus far am bheil sin nar comas, bruidhinnidh neach le Gàidhlig aig agallamh)
- For holiday information on Scotland go to www.visitscotland.com
- For information about business tourism in Scotland go to www.conventionscotland.com
2018 Year of Young People
- The Year of Young People 2018 will be the next of the Scottish Government’s series of themed years, following the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017.
- The Year of Young People (YoYP 2018) will inspire Scotland through its young people aged 8 to 26, celebrating their achievements, valuing their contributions to communities and creating new opportunities for them to shine locally, nationally and globally
- Central to YoYP 2018 will be a celebratory events programme that puts young people at the heart of its development and delivery, creating new and valuable experiences for young Scots and the wider public, with links to the inaugural 2018 European Championships.
- Over 200 young people throughout Scotland are currently being recruited to become YoYP 2018 Ambassadors. Ambassadors will ensure that people and organisations in their communities know about what’s happening and will lead on projects and activities to create events and opportunities to celebrate young people.
- The Year of Young People will have six themes which were developed in co-production with young people themselves:
- oParticipation – looking at how young people can influence public services and decisions which affect their lives
- oEducation – creating a stronger role for young people in shaping their learning
- oHealth and Wellbeing – supporting young people to lead healthier, active lives and have opportunities to learn about and improve their mental health and resilience
- oEquality and Discrimination – broadcasting the value of young Scots, challenging negative perceptions of young people, and supporting young people to take leading roles in challenging discrimination in all its forms.
- oEnterprise and regeneration – celebrating young people’s role in innovation, entrepreneurship and the Scottish economy as well as making Scotland a greener and more pleasant place to live
- oCulture – celebrating young people’s talent and contribution to Scottish culture and arts.
- Further information on what’s happening and how people can get involved can be found on the new website www.yoyp2018.scot or @YOYP2018 on Twitter.