Wonders of the west coast to be unlocked in Oban

Photograph: Oscar McBurney, West Coast Waters

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Businesses in Oban are being offered support to help them make the most of their natural environment in efforts to reach new and growing markets.

In partnership with Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), West Coast Waters is hosting two free-to-attend business engagement events to help companies understand how to get involved with the initiative and grow their international reach. On offer is a one-day information session, followed by the option to attend a workshop on day two to explore international market development.

A collaboration of 22 west coast destination groups, West Coast Waters has been set up in conjunction with the Year of Coasts and Waters to entice more adventure seekers and travellers to this remarkable part of Scotland.

It plans to do this via six different partnership initiatives throughout the year which includes a 20-week community-based baton relay, a major maritime storytelling programme and the creation of new nature trials.

The information session, open to anyone involved in tourism who is interested in discovering more about the opportunities on offer from West Coast Waters, is being held on Wednesday February 26 from 10am to 4.30pm at Corran Halls in Oban.

The session will highlight ways to get directly involved with West Coast Waters. Partners will be on hand to explain the initiative, providing interactive sessions as well as one-to-ones. With speakers from Wild Scotland and University of the Highlands and Islands Centre for Recreation and Tourism Research, there are plenty of chances for attendees to gain valuable insights.

A separate workshop is taking place on Thursday February 27, delivered by HIE’s International Trade team, and will provide practical advice on how to reach new global markets, tapping into the high-end tourism industry.

Overseas visitor analysis will help inform product development, while the power of the internet and social media to maximise routes to market will be discussed in depth. It takes place at Corran Halls in Oban from 9.30am to 5pm.

Steven Dott, senior development manager for tourism at HIE, said: ‘Tourism is one of our most important rural industries, providing valuable employment and contributing to community resilience. The west coast of Scotland is a huge draw for many visitors from within the UK and across the world, and there is potential to build on this.

That’s what these West Coast Waters sessions are all about. They will help firms identify and pursue new emerging markets, through workshops and one-to-one sessions on tailored action plans.

‘We hope many businesses will take advantage of these free sessions and look forward to welcoming people at the events.’

Carron Tobin, co-ordinator of West Coast Waters, 2020 added: ‘The Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 dovetails perfectly with our mission at West Coast Waters 2020 to encourage visitors and locals to immerse themselves in the sights, sounds, tastes, textures and aromas of the west coast of Scotland.

‘The planned information days and workshops will shine a light on the six major initiatives that are happening over 2020. This is a great opportunity to network with like-minded people and we are urging businesses, organisations and individuals to come along to reap the benefits.’

For details of how to register for the events in Oban on February 26 and 27, visit: hie.co.uk/ycw2020