Thinktank call to shape up Oban’s business plan

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Levy-payers who are part of BID4Oban have been asked to think what the future holds.

Business representatives who were at the recent annual general meeting were asked by BID4Oban chief executive Andrew Spence to come up with ideas and suggestions on how the organisation should shape up for 2022 and beyond when its current term ends in three years.

‘We need to start planning now. If we are to change the format we need to gather ideas and projects,’ said Mr Spence, who raised for discussion the possibility of extending BID’s catchment area to outside of the town to take in areas such as Dunstaffnage and Barcaldine, home to SAMS and Scottish Sea Farms.

Out of the 550 businesses who are part of BID4Oban, there were about 30 representatives at the Perle Hotel meeting.

It was suggested Mr Spence and his team drop in on members to collect their views on how BID4Oban should move forward.

Businesses heard how 2020 will be a ‘massive opportunity’ for the town when it is the year of Scotland’s Coast and Waters.

‘We need to make sure Oban is remarketed as the seafood capital and the top destination for people to come and explore our coast and waters. It’s a massive opportunity.’

Last year saw a run of successful BID initiatives, including taking on the town’s Christmas lights and making the town look at its blooming best with floral displays.

Community projects including supporting Oban Communities Trust, shinty and the Highland and Islands Music and Dance Festival.

The town wi-fi was also a big hit with more than 1,200 people a week in summer signing into it.

However, there are issues with the ‘green machine’ street sweeper that BID invested in and talks are being had with Argyll and Bute Council. On a positive note, janitors at Oban High School have asked to use it because they cannot cover the grounds by themselves, reported Mr Spence.

Oban’s growing popularity with cruise ships, the North Pier pontoons, its amazing town ambassadors and tour guides, fireworks display and reindeer parade also got a mention in the meeting’s round up.

It will also be the third year of the town markets this season with the first one set for April 13 and there are plans to liven up the town’s online diary of events.

Sales of Love Oban vouchers have doubled this past year with more and more businesses signing up to use them.

BID4Oban will be at Glasgow’s Expo 2019 with an Oban stand, marketing will continue, as will building closer working relationships with Oban and Lorn Tourist Association, Argyll and Bute Council and other partnerships.

Projects to improve the environment including the area around McCaig’s Tower and a Light Up Oban scheme starting with illuminating the Black Lynn are also in the pipeline.

Extending Oban’s tourist season was also discussed as part of a mission to make the town a place to stay, explore and spend.