Created by Argyll and The Isles Tourism Cooperative (AITC), the ambitious £100,000 initiative is geared at showcasing the breadth of outstanding outdoors activities and adventure sports available throughout the west coast to a global audience over the next 12 months.
Taking place at Oran Mor in the city’s West End, the launch of Wild About Argyll will be hosted by renowned Scottish adventure athlete, Mark Beaumont – the record-breaking long distance cyclist, adventurer, broadcaster and author who is famous the world over for his endurance challenges.
Mark, who spent part of his childhood living in Argyll, will recount an epic 12-day multi-sport adventure that he undertook across the region last summer – from trail-biking, fell running and horse-riding to quad-biking, kayaking, sailing and wild swimming – which will be at the heart of a series of short films supporting the new campaign to be shown in cinemas, on TV and online.
A highlight of the event will be a live performance of ‘Live Forever’ which has been chosen as the soundtrack for the Wild About Argyll campaign and will be premiered by Scottish folk fusion band SKERRYVORE, fresh from collecting their Live Act of the Year accolade at the Scots Trad Music Awards in December.
The evening will also feature music from newcomers Tide Lines, who hail from the west coast, tasting sessions from Food from Argyll and projection of some of the footage from Mark’s challenge onto the spire of Oran Mor.
Adventure tourism has been identified as an area for growth within Scotland. Tourism Scotland 2020, the national tourism strategy, highlights ‘activities and adventure’ – worth an estimated £759 million to the economy – and mountain biking, valued at £119 million, as sectors with real potential.
A pan-Scotland research report, led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and published in 2015, also found that of 351 businesses surveyed in the sector, 84% expect future demand to increase in the next three to five years with almost a fifth expecting this to be significantly so.
With 12% of those businesses located in Argyll and The Isles, the Wild About Argyll campaign aims to capitalise on the considerable tourism growth potential the region possesses as Scotland’s first choice destination for adventure seekers.
A key theme of Wild About Argyll will be the promotion of the region’s accessibility for tourists and day-trippers, with strong emphasis on the increased volume of fast, reliable and cost effective rail, bus, ferry and air services into the mainland and islands from Glasgow and the wider central belt.
The launch of the campaign coincides with the recent launch of Glasgow’s new Tourism and Visitor Plan to 2023.
Led by tourism partners Glasgow Life, VisitScotland and Scottish Enterprise, it provides the framework through which the city will attract one million more visitors and position Glasgow as the ‘gateway to Scotland’ over the next seven years.
Achieving a baseline of three million overnight visits per year by 2023 will deliver an economic boost of £771 million and contribute an additional 6,600 jobs in the city.
It will also help to achieve Scotland’s target of an additional £1 billion of visitor expenditure by 2020 and align with the aims of the Glasgow City Region City Deal; supporting the growth of the wider west of Scotland economy.
Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, said: “Tourism is of vital importance to our rural and island communities, which every year welcome millions of visitors. Our dramatic landscapes and seascapes provide the perfect background for a wide range of adventure tourism experiences. I welcome this ambitious initiative by Argyll and The Isles Tourism Co-operative, which will showcase some of the best of what Scotland has to offer.”
Scots adventurer Mark Beaumont said:“Having spent my youngest years on a farm in Argyll, I have always wanted to go back and explore. This epic journey across land and sea didn’t disappoint and made me realise that Argyll and The Isles is one of the best adventure playgrounds in the world. There’s a staggering diversity of terrain and sporting opportunities – and I know that the series of short films made for Wild About Argyll will showcase the area in new and exciting ways. I’m proud to have roots in Argyll and can’t wait to go back.”
Gavin Dick, Chair of Argyll and the Isles Tourism Cooperative (AITC), said: “When we set Mark an epic multi-sport challenge across Argyll and The Isles last summer our aim was to have fun but to also collect as much stunning, inspirational footage as possible to really focus attention on Argyll and the Isles as Scotland’s Adventure Coast.
“The juxtaposition of this unrivalled tourism experience on the doorstep of Glasgow is what excites us most. We have an amazing quality and diversity of activities available throughout the region and the ease of access, whether for a day out or an extended stay, is pretty unique. We’re delighted to be working so closely with Glasgow to attract new visitors and further develop strategic links with the city’s new tourism plan.”
Dick Walsh, Leader of Argyll and Bute Council, said: “Mark Beaumont’s epic, but often arduous, journey across some of Scotland’s most breathtaking scenery certainly helped showcase Argyll and Bute as a wonderful area to visit. As a council we are also committed to attracting people to live and work in one of the country’s most promising regions and we were delighted when he undertook the challenge in our area. There is no doubt this new campaign will help boost the number of people coming here.”
Councillor Frank McAveety, Leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “Wild About Argyll is a fantastic campaign and launching it in Glasgow is the next step in a programme of joint working between the city and the AITC team over the past year to create new links with Argyll and The Isles; encouraging tourists and visitors to consider the west coast region as part of a trip to Glasgow.
“Tourism is the cornerstone of Glasgow’s economy and our tourism products and experiences are hugely complementary – Pinkston Watersports Centre, which is home to Scotland’s only artificial whitewater course, and Cathkin Braes trails for example are the perfect introduction to the likes of kayaking and mountain biking in the city before really getting to grips with it in Argyll.
“We are committed to working with partners like AITC to achieve our ambitious objectives of positioning Glasgow as the gateway to Scotland; attracting one million more visitors and realising the huge potential of the sector for the city and country as a whole over the next seven years.”
Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said: “The stunning inland and coastal landscapes of Argyll and The Isles make it a perfect natural adventure playground for a vast range of outdoors activities, and one of the great advantages of this incredible region is that its unspoilt rugged beauty isn’t remote – it’s easily accessible, particularly to visitors travelling from Glasgow and the Central Belt.
“There’s simply no better destination across the length and breadth of our country to experience the Spirit of Scotland and enjoy world-class adventure sports opportunities and facilities, so it’s great that this exciting new campaign will increase awareness of that and promote Argyll and The Isles to lovers of our great outdoors.
“We wish AITC every success with it and I’m confident that the campaign’s inspirational footage of Mark Beaumont’s action-packed trip to the region will encourage many people to follow in his footsteps, providing a great boost to tourism and the visitor economy.”
Source: Glasgow City Marketing Bureau