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Hawick bounces back as host of Scottish Borders Tourism Conference

Press Release   •   Mar 08, 2016 10:14 GMT

Unbowed by the considerable challenges of coping with this winter’s extreme weather, representatives of over 100 businesses from all over the Scottish Borders will converge in Hawick later this week for one of the region’s most important annual industry events.

The Scottish Borders Tourism Conference 2016 will be held at Heart of Hawick’s Tower Mill - a redeveloped former spinning mill, with the oldest waterwheel in Southern Scotland, which is now one of the region’s premier venues and leisure attractions.

Funded jointly by national tourism organisation VisitScotland and Scottish Borders Council, the event is being delivered in partnership with the Scottish Borders Tourism Partnership (SBTP), the largest industry group in the region.

The conference - which takes place on Friday 11th March - marks the start of Scottish Tourism Week (11th – 18th March), a yearly programme of tourism business events across the country which is organised by the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA).

The annual industry conference is the most anticipated event in the Scottish Borders tourism calendar and always generates a great level of interest from tourism and hospitality businesses the length and breadth of the region. Invitations were distributed across many VisitScotland and SBTP channels and all of the places for the event were snapped up within weeks of being made available. There is now a waiting list for cancellations.

Attendees will represent all areas of the tourism and hospitality sectors, ranging from accommodation providers and tour operators, to food and drink businesses, visitor attractions and events’ organisers.The main theme of this year’s conference is the Year of Innovation, Architecture & Design 2016 so the event will focus on inspiring and encouraging the industry to engage with the objectives of this themed year and capitalise on the business growth opportunities it offers.

The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design builds on the momentum generated by the 2015 Year of Food and Drink, Homecoming Scotland 2014 and previous themed years. Throughout 2016 a spotlight will be shone on Scotland’s achievements in innovation, architecture and design through a wide-ranging, variety of events and activities. The Scottish Borders is perfectly placed to capitalise on this year’s theme and the region will be encouraged to celebrate its many assets in these fields and position the Scottish Borders as an outstanding destination.

In addition, the conference also aims to provide attendees with a valuable opportunity to network with fellow tourism colleagues and make new connections which will be mutually beneficial to their businesses and will in turn, benefit the industry and the region’s economy.

John Henderson, of Born in the Borders/Scottish Borders Brewery - and Vice Chair of the SBTP - will welcome delegates to the event and introduce the theme of Innovation, Architecture & Design, emphasising that each of the conference speakers will help illustrate how the themed year can work for all attendees and their businesses.

The event’s speakers include: Willie Macleod representing the STA – who will speak about its tourism strategy to 2020; Sheila-Mary Carruthers of Carruthers Associates – who will speak about the textile and design assets, icons and hidden gems of the Scottish Borders; Mark Douglas (Scottish Borders Council) – reviewing Borders architecture, modern design and design awards; and Cathy Craig (Abellio Scotrail) – who will focus on the importance of innovation as well as The Borders Railway project.

Scottish Borders Tourism Partnership Chair, Carol Ann Houghton said : "We are delighted to be holding this year's conference at the Tower Mill in Hawick. The venue is an ideal place to showcase how much the Scottish Borders can relate directly to the Year of Innovation, Architecture & Design. We are also proud to be one of the first major events of Scottish Tourism Week."

VisitScotland Regional Director Paula McDonald commented: I am very much looking forward to welcoming industry representatives to this year’s conference. Last year’s event was extremely well-received - we had great feedback on how valuable attendees found it - so I hope that the response to this year’s event, with its terrific line-up of informative, inspirational speakers, will be equally positive.”

Councillor Stuart Bell, Executive Member for Economic Development at Scottish Borders Council, said: It’s clear that representatives of the industry right across region really welcome this annual opportunity to come together to hear about industry news and discuss ways of building their business, often by working together. The fact that the conference goes from strength to strength each year demonstrates their commitment to ensuring the continued growth of the industry – which of course is vitally important to the region’s economy.”


For further information contact:

Ellen Drummond Ferroni, VisitScotland Corporate Press Officer

T: 0141 566 4019; M: 07801 820757; E:

Please note, I do not work on Fridays - when queries should be directed to Corporate Press Manager Kate Turnbull on 0131 472 2324 or

Out of hours enquiries all week: 07699 766986

Notes to Editors

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  • 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:
    1. Marketing: we will market Scotland and its outstanding assets to visitors from all parts of the world, including the promotion of Scotland to people living in Scotland       to visit different parts of the country
    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
    4. Customer Experience: we will provide information and inspiration to visitors both locally and globally via their preferred medium of choice
    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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    Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016

  • 2016 will shine a spotlight on Scotland’s achievements in innovation, architecture and design through a wide-ranging, variety of new and existing activity.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design begins on 1 January 2016 and ends on 31 December 2016 and will build on the momentum generated by the current 2015 Year of Food and Drink as well as previous years including Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
  • Through a series of exciting events and activity, the year will showcase Scotland’s position as an “innovation nation”, its outstanding built heritage, and its thriving, internationally acclaimed creative industries sector.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Scottish Government, Creative Scotland, Architecture + Design Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS).
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
  • Join the conversation at #IAD2016
  • Events can join the 2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design Partner Programme throughout the year by visiting