VISITSCOTLAND Chairman John Thurso visited the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory in Ayrshire this week ahead of the first ever European Dark Sky Park conference.
Lord Thurso was given a tour of the facility within the Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park where outdoor lighting is controlled to make sure stargazers have the best view of the night sky.
The visit coincided with the start of the conference, organised by the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere. Taking place from 20 to 22 September at Cally Palace Hotel, Gatehouse of Fleet, Dumfries & Galloway, the event brought together some of the world’s top dark sky experts with the aim of promoting rural development, tourism and tackling light pollution.
The conference was attended by astronomers, town planners, lighting specialists, environmentalists and academics who gathered to discuss the benefits of achieving a Dark Sky status. Galloway Forest Park became the first European and the fifth Dark Sky Park in the world in 2009, with tourism the prime driver for establishing the designation which generates an estimated £500,000 from tourism every year.
In his keynote address, Lord Thurso highlighted the success of the Dark Sky Park project that brings environmental, rural economy, tourism and health agendas together. He praised the success of the initiative that takes advantage of a free asset that, in particular, draws visitors to the region in the winter months.
Lord Thurso said: “Scotland’s reputation as a quality destination relies on continued investment and innovation to ensure that current provision meets future demand.
“Hosting Europe’s first ever Dark Sky Park conference is a fantastic opportunity to highlight the success of this collaborative project. Partnership and collaboration is at the heart of Scottish tourism and VisitScotland works with local industry to develop and deliver innovative initiatives that grow the visitor economy.”
Mark Gibson from the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory said: “We were delighted to welcome Lord Thurso for a tour of the Scottish Dark Sky Park Observatory. The European Dark Sky Place conference is an excellent opportunity to promote the success of the Dark Sky Park and share our knowledge and experience with a worldwide audience.”
For more information on the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere, visit: http://www.gsabiosphere.org.uk/
The Scottish Dark Sky Observatory will mark its 5th birthday in two weeks, when the brand new planetarium next to it will be opened by John Duncan, Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for Ayrshire & Arran. For more information, visit: https://scottishdarkskyobservatory.co.uk/
For more information on the Scottish Dark Sky Park, visit:
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:
- 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
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- The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
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- 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) 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.
- The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
- For more information visit visitscotland.com/HHA2017 or join the conversation at #HHA2017