West goes wild for coasts and waters

The West Coast Marine Tourism Collaboration meet at Riverside Museum in Glasgow to announce their VisitScotland Growth Fund Award.

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The first pan west coast Scotland tourism campaign has received funding support from VisitScotland.

West Coast Waters, bringing together an unprecedented 22 industry groups from across Scotland’s west coast, has received a £40,000 VisitScotland Growth Fund award.

The Growth Fund supports national, regional and sectoral tourism groups across Scotland to deliver partnership marketing campaigns.

A collaboration between 21 of Scotland’s west coast destination partners and WildScotland, with CalMac also involved, the campaign looks to attract visitors to the west coast and islands in 2020 to either get on or in the water. This is following a major initiative in 2018 where 300 hubs across the west coast were identified as locations where visitors can experience Scotland’s marine tourism offering.

Using the Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 as a platform, the 12-month campaign will work with influencers and use digital marketing to raise awareness of the breadth and scale of opportunities across the west coast for adventure seekers and travellers from the UK.

The campaign will focus on four key products.

  • Boat trips exploring the wildlife, natural wonders, uninhabited islands, remote attractions and stunning scenery of the west coast;
  • Island hopping with CalMac and other ferry and boat operator services;
  • Trails of Discovery including snorkelling, sea kayaking, seafood, whisky, whales and dolphins;
  • Snorkelling, wild swimming, surfing and paddle sports.

The campaign’s landing page was launched last week with a toolkit for the area’s tourism industry, showing how they can get involved in the campaign and make the most of the opportunities presented by the Year of Coasts and Waters 2020.

Carron Tobin, West Coast Waters project manager, said: ‘West Coast Waters is hugely exciting with collaboration on a scale never experienced before.  The research undertaken in 2018 revealed not just the individual opportunities in each destination but the extent of the opportunity by working together. This campaign is the evidence of this becoming reality.

‘A workshop in January 2019 scoped out this campaign and each of the destination partners has made a contribution to be part of it. We have tremendous support from our agency and local authority partners, too, and the VisitScotland Growth Fund award has been the catalyst for even further engagement.

‘We are all keenly looking forward to welcoming visitors to our coast and islands and helping them slow down, immerse their senses and explore the roads less traveled across the West Coast.’

David Adams McGilp, VisitScotland regional director, added: ‘West Coast Waters is a multi-destination collaborative effort to realise the extraordinary potential of the maritime environment up and down the region.

‘This exciting new campaign will showcase the vast marine tourism offering of Scotland’s west coast and bring visitors to the area to discover this offering for themselves.

‘Partnership and collaboration are at the heart of Scottish tourism and I’m delighted VisitScotland is able to support this innovative campaign that will help bring success, wellbeing and prosperity to the west of Scotland.’

Peter Griffiths, CalMac’s marketing manager, said: ‘It is exciting to see that the Year of Coasts and Waters has fired the imagination of so many different people and groups but the real success from the year is the cross-border and pan-discipline working which has been displayed within the West Coast Waters initiative.’

In 2020, Scotland celebrates its Coasts and Waters with a programme of events and activities.

The full list of bloggers travelling around the west of Scotland as part of the campaign in September are as follows:

Wester Ross, Skye, Harris and Lewis – Adventures around Scotland September 21-29;

Lochaber, Road to the Isles and Small Isles, Skye, the Uists, Barra and Oban – Travels with a Kilt – September 19-30;

Morvern, Ardnamurchan, Mull, Coll, Tiree and Argyll – The Chaotic Scot – September 20-29;

Clyde Coast, Kintyre, Islay, Jura, Colonsay and Argyll – Watch Me See – September 22-30;

Loch Lomond, Clyde Sea Lochs, Arran, Kintyre, Bute, Cowal and Cumbrae
Five Ferries by Car – Laretour – September 21-24;

Loch Lomond Cowal and Bute – Kim Kjaerside – September 27-29;

Cumbrae in a day – Castle Hunter – September 28.

The collaboration delivering the campaign is called the West Coast Marine Tourism Collaborative. Led by the Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative, it was established in November 2017 and has grown to embrace 22 destination and sectoral groups representing in excess of 2,500 tourism interests.

They include: Argyll and the Isles Tourism Cooperative, Coll Development Trust, Colonsay Marketing Group, Explore Kintyre and Gigha, Heart of Argyll Tourism Alliance, Inveraray Marketing Group, Islay and Jura Tourism Marketing Group, Kyles Marketing Group, Love Loch Lomond, Marketing Mull and Iona, Oban and Lorn Tourism Alliance,  Outdoor Capital of the UK (Lochaber Chamber of Commerce), Outer Hebrides Tourism, Road to the Isles Marketing Group, Skye Connect,  SMMAATA (Ardnamurchan and wider area) and WildScotland.

Public sector and travel partners include CalMac, ScotRail, Scottish Natural Heritage, UHI Centre for Recreation and Tourism Research, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park and Argyll and Bute Council.

Go to www.westcoastwaters.co.uk.