Ayrshire tourism conference

Ayrshire tourism forging ahead

Businesses aiming to capitalise on partnership commitment

The tourism industry in Ayrshire is putting a plan in place to help secure the future of one of the region’s most important economic drivers.

Businesses and tourism representatives from across Ayrshire & Arran came together for the Ayrshire & Arran Tourism Conference at the Carlton Hotel in Prestwick (Wednesday 15th March).

The event was hosted by the Ayrshire & Arran Destination Alliance and supported by RAD Hotel Group, Scottish Enterprise and VisitScotland.

Pre-pandemic tourism was worth £600 million annually to Ayrshire and provided 13,000 jobs. In 2019, there were 2,980,000 visitor nights in Ayrshire and including day visits, 11,190,000 visits in total. Ayrshire has an average overall score on TripAdvisor of 4.38 out of 5. Visitors are drawn to the region’s scenery, welcome and great variety of things to do.

Delegates heard about the ambition to deliver responsible growth, creating jobs, sustaining communities and contributing significantly to the economy.

The newly developed Ayrshire & Our Islands Visitor Economy Strategy was unveiled, and at its heart is a significant partnership approach for the region. It is supported by Ayrshire & Arran Destination Alliance, East Ayrshire, North Ayrshire and South Ayrshire Councils, Scottish Enterprise and VisitScotland.

The aims of the strategy are to help to deliver economic recovery following the pandemic but with an emphasis on the natural environment, to benefit visitors’ well-being and aid social regeneration. Key to the success of the strategy is collaborating across local authority boundaries so residents, businesses and the whole region can benefit from the visitor economy.

There are four regional strategic priorities which align with the national tourism strategy Scotland Outlook 2030 based on great visitor experiences, business growth, our talented people and looking after the environment.

The Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise Ivan McKee MSP said: “I was delighted to open the Ayrshire and Arran Tourism conference today and help launch the “Ayrshire and our Islands Visitor Economy Strategy”, which is aligned with the aims of Outlook 2030 and the Scottish Government’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation.

“The area has a lot to offer both national and international visitors, and is world famous as the land of our national bard Rabbie Burns. The strategy will help boost the attractiveness of the area in a sustainable and forward looking manner.

“It is also a great opportunity to recognise the hard work of the Ayrshire and Arran Destination Alliance who have shown what can be achieved when local authorities, public bodies and local businesses and organisations work together in partnership.”

VisitScotland’s CEO and Co-Chair of Ayrshire & Arran Visitor Economy Leadership Group Malcolm Roughead said: “This is a significant moment for tourism in the region with a refreshed ‘team Ayrshire’ approach, to build on the shoots of recovery in tourism and events, one of Scotland’s most valuable industries. Our insights tell us that visitors are seeking rest and relaxation and Ayrshire’s miles of countryside, coastline and islands offer those restorative experiences in abundance. Together with harnessing the collective ideas, creativity and entrepreneurship across the public, private and third sector partners, we can drive domestic and international tourism.”

Linda Johnston, Executive Chair of Auchrannie Resort and Chair of Ayrshire & Arran Destination Alliance said: “Businesses in Ayrshire and Arran are excited to see the launch of new Strategy and Action Plan for the region and hope that we can now move on at pace to deliver the plan. We are confident that through effective collaboration and joint resourcing, this work will boost Ayrshire’s visibility as a great holiday destination as well as improving tourism infrastructure and driving greater economic prosperity to our communities.”

Simon Houison-Craufurd, MD of Craufurdland Estate and Co-Chair of the Ayrshire & Arran Visitor Economy Leadership Group said: “This is an important milestone for the Ayrshire Visitor Economy and its success in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Our regional partnership approach will see a new vigour in the region.”

Notes to editors

Group shot strategy partners (from left to right)

1) Ian Hawkins, Isle of Cumbrae Pipe Band, Royal British Legion Scotland

2) Linda Johnston, Executive Chair of Auchrannie Resort and Chair of AADA

3) South Ayrshire Council - Cllr Alec Clark Tourism, Culture and Rural Affairs portfolio holder

4) East Ayrshire Council - Cllr Clare Maitland, Cabinet Member

5) Simon Houison-Craufurd, MD of Craufurdland Estate and Chair of AAVELG

6) Ivan McKee MSP - Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise

7) Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive, VisitScotland and Co-Chair of AAVESG

8) Derek McCrindle, Head of Place, Scottish Enterprise

9) Daniel Steel - CEO, Ayrshire & Arran Destination Alliance

10) North Ayrshire Council Councillor Tony Gurney. Cabinet Member for Economy, Climate Change and Place

11) Robert Tedford, Isle of Cumbrae Pipe Band, Royal British Legion Scotland

Notes to Editors 

  • Follow us on twitter: @visitscotnews  
  • VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its purpose is to deliver a strategic and coordinated approach to supporting the rebuilding of the visitor economy in a responsible way, to ensure tourism thrives.
  • The organisation’s work will help deliver the Scottish Government’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation, and Scotland Outlook 2030, the national tourism strategy, which details the vision of Scotland being the world leader in 21st century tourism. 
  • This is delivered through three strategic pillars: Building a responsible destination brand, investigating in Scotland’s tourism and events communities and facilitating collaboration and embracing change in support of a fairer, more responsible and inclusive visitor economy.
  • Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, spending by tourists in Scotland generated around £11 billion of economic activity in the wider Scottish supply chain and contributed around £6 billion to Scottish GDP (in basic prices).  
  • VisitScotland is a leader in responsible tourism, making Scotland a better place for people to live and visit. We are proud signatories of the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism and Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency. 
  • 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/ 
  • For holiday information on Scotland go to visitscotland.com