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Argyll has everything to compete at the top of world tourism – but we must tell our products’ stories to connect with modern travellers.
Delegates at the seventh summit of Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) heard Argyll is well-placed to compete for visitors who increasingly look for unique and meaningful experiences.
Around 140 people from tourism businesses across the region made their way to Argyll Holidays’ newly-refurbished Drimsynie Hotel in Lochgoilhead to hear from speakers on the themes of market trends, food and drink and adventure tourism.
The overall theme of this year’s summit, held on Thursday March 7, was VisitScotland’s 2020 Year of Coasts and Water. AITC development manager Carron Tobin revealed a collaborative programme of events to promote heritage, food and drink, wildlife, events and responsible behaviour around the west coast from Argyll to the Western Isles.
Under the banner of ‘UISGE 2020’, the programme will raise awareness of marine tourism’s stories and develop trails along the west coast.
Chris Greenwod of VisitScotland offered insights into tourism trends. ‘Wellness tourism is growing across the world,’ he said. ‘There is clear potential for this to be incorporated within your products.
‘It is all about people seeking betterment. People are not looking for generic products when visiting an area.’
There is a growing trend for the quirky or unusual and the weaving of stories into products helps create a connection with a place.
Marc Crothall from the Scottish Tourism Alliance said Argyll has plenty quality food and drink to shout about, but the stories of each product must be told.
One man keen to shout about these from the rooftops is leading chef Gary MacLean who, in his keynote presentation, said: ‘I have always been fascinated with the story of Scottish food.
The former BBC Masterchef: The Professionals winner added: ‘We have the best food in the world, bar none.’
Lunchtime included delicious nibbles under the Food from Argyll banner alongside Scottish salmon prepared by Gary MacLean. Also on offer were tantalising Loch Fyne oysters from Cairndow.
Thanking hosts and sponsors, AITC chairman Iain Jurgensen added: ‘Most of all, thanks to all our delegates. You are the people who make tourism in Argyll and the Isles what it is. You have the products, you have the knowledge and the insights. There are some challenges, but we have a great product.
‘We operate in a global market and we have to turn up the volume and believe in our product.
‘The rest of the world is shouting about theirs but I think ours might be a little bit better.’