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Oban now has a new group to fly the flag for tourism and hospitality.
Oban Tourism Group (OTG) has been created from the Oban, Lorn and Tourism Alliance (OLTA) organisation with BID4Oban as a co-founder.
The change comes as many of OLTA’s functions were taken on this year by the Argyll and the Isles Tourism Cooperative (AITC), a regional destination management organisation.
Oban’s Neil Mackay, who served as chairman of OLTA, remains as the new chairman of Oban Tourism Group, which will also have a seat around the AITC board to champion the area.
Oban Tourism Group will largely act as an advisory and promotional group, with a focus on local activities, events and festivals.
Mr Mackay said: ‘I’d like to put on record my thanks to all past directors, committee members and subscribers to OLTA.
‘OLTA was a founding member of Argyll and the Isles Tourism Cooperative and the regional destination marketing organisation will now take care of all administration and membership subscriptions as OLTA winds down.’
Mr MacKay said the town would now unite behind the Love Oban brand.
‘We’ll continue to work hard to ensure that tourism not only survives but thrives in our area,’ he said.
One of the tourism group’s first achievements is the replacement of the webcam at the Northern Lighthouse Board to provide better quality images of the area, and securing the future of its ongoing running costs and that of its neighbouring camera on the North Pier, which will be be met by BID4Oban.
The purchase of the camera follows a successful £3,500 online fundraising campaign backed with donations by more than 90 supporters.
Mr MacKay said: ‘The webcams help us show off our town and we’re grateful to the BIDs board for their support and everyone who donated to the Just Giving page.’
Andrew Spence, of BID4Oban, said: ‘OLTA did a fantastic job fundraising to replace the two cameras during lockdown.
‘BID directors were unanimous in agreeing to their ongoing financial support to ensure that the cameras continue to broadcast livestream views to the world through
the tourism website www.oban.org.uk.’
The newly-designed website by the AITC is now live with businesses encouraged to sign up.
Mr Spence said: ‘If you are a BIDS levy payer and you’d like to appear then please get in touch.
‘OLTA members have already migrated their details and they are now on both oban.org.uk and the regional website wildaboutargyll.co.uk.
‘It’s time for the town’s tourism businesses to get behind this website and make sure that everyone can take advantage of its first-page search engine ranking which has taken over 20 years organic growth to achieve.’
Of the cameras, Linda Battison, OLTA’s long-serving marketing director, said: ‘OLTA was one of the first local marketing groups to use webcams and they bring a huge amount of traffic to our popular website.’
Going forward with tourism this year, there will be more emphasis on outdoor activities and ‘slow tourism’.
Argyll and Bute Council is promoting a new social media campaign via the hashtag #abplaces2b encouraging people to ‘Be a Great Visitor’.
VisitScotland is also reminding guests to #RespectProtectEnjoy.