The Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) ‘Raising Our Game’ Midsummer conference at the Westerwood Hotel in Cumbernauld today provided the venue for Business, Energy and Tourism Minister, Fergus Ewing’s first post-election address to the Scottish tourism industry.
Over 100 leading figures from tourism businesses and organisations across Scotland gathered for the Minister’s speech and to hear the success story of a tourism industry turned around, from Irish counterparts, the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation (ITIC). The conference also focused on the importance of collaboration and how destinations can and have raised their game through funding initiatives ,with sessions delivered by Ian Davison Porter, Director of BID Scotland, Graeme Ambrose, CEO of VisitInvernessLochNess and Richard Millar, Head of Enterprise at Scottish Canals.
In his address, Mr. Ewing acknowledged the positive growth and confidence within the sector over the past two years and spoke of the commitment from Government to working with industry sectors to help build on tourism’s recent successes.
The Minister said; “The 2014 tourism figures are hugely encouraging and show Scotland’s tourism industry continuing to grow as we outperform the rest of Great Britain in both domestic and international visitors.”
“The Scottish Government is committed to working together with the tourism industry to ensure its continuing success. This includes work in skills, business rates, better regulation, engagement with Europe, investment in infrastructure and support for events.
“We understand the importance of the tourism industry to Scotland’s economy and in promoting the Scottish brand across the world and events like this will help this work continue.”
Marc Crothall, CEO of the Scottish Tourism Alliance said; “We are delighted to have received such a strong pledge of support from the Minister for the sector today. We have over the past three years become an industry that speaks as one, an industry which is heard and recognised as being one of Scotland’s main economic drivers. A strong foundation has been built and due to the past two years of growth the industry is confident but by no means complacent that there will be more of the same. There is certainly more joined up thinking taking place and stronger collaboration across the public and private sector which is essential to bringing about the longer-term change required to deliver the ambitious 2020 growth target set in the Tourism Strategy. Having the support of Government and working with Local Authorities and other public and private sector bodies remains key to enable Scotland to compete as a global tourist destination.”
He added; “A step change is however required at a number of levels to remove barriers to growth and to make Scotland a destination of first choice for a high quality, value for money and memorable customer experience. Tax levied on tourism experiences, APD, high fuel price levels, digital connectivity, recruiting talent into the industry, destination funding – these are all areas which make it extremely challenging to compete within a global environment .As the voice of the industry, and one that has the ear of Government we will continue to highlight these issues to those who can influence change to relax and remove some of barriers we face to make Scotland more competitive as has happened in Ireland. As was evidenced in Mr. Ewing’s comments today 2014 marked a turning point. The industry came together and worked harder than ever before to deliver these memorable experiences for visitors and there is real acknowledgement there is much work to do and that we must continue to build hard on the success and momentum gained over the past two years to raise our game and ensure that tourism remains a significant economic driver for Scotland.”
As a response to the release of the recent tourism figures, Stephen Leckie, Chairman of the STA delivered his address on the national tourism strategy, Tourism Scotland 2020 (TS2020), sounding a clarion call for every organisation that tourism touches to get behind the Strategy. He said “Trading conditions continue to be challenging and as an industry, we need to be focused and pragmatic about what needs to be done to grow Scottish tourism. Tourism is everyone’s business and we must all continue to get behind the industry strategy to ensure Scotland remains internationally competitive both as a destination for visitors and also a place to do business.”
Leckie also announced that there will be a mid-term review of the Strategy in Autumn of this year, with the outcome to be published during Scottish Tourism Week between 11-18 March 2016.
The STA also announced the launch of its new business support line for Members. Partnering with Buell Exchange, the STA is now offering a free service which allows its members to tap into a range of high quality specialist advisory services and service providers.
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For further comments, images or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Mhairi Clarke – PR, Communications & Marketing Manager
Scottish Tourism Alliance
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Notes to Editors:
The Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) was formed in 2012, an evolution of the Scottish Tourism Forum which was established in 1998 to act as the Industry Leadership Groupfor tourism and the leading voice for the tourism sector in Scotland.
The primary role of the STA is to represent the views of industry and be the ear and voice of the tourism industry.
The organisation also leads the facilitation and co-ordination of the on going development and delivery of the National Strategy: Tourism Scotland 2020, industry wide. The strategy ambition being to make Scotland a destination of first choice for a high quality, value for money and memorable customer experience.
One of the Scottish Tourism Alliance’s key objectives is to help support individual businesses, marketing services, trade associations, local area tourism groups and any organisation with an active interest in tourism to realise their potential by maximizing and building on opportunities to ensure future growth of our industry.
The role of the STA is also to “lead on industry matters”, collaborating with and representing industry views to government and agencies, bringing public and private players together to encourage the voicing of opinion about problems and priorities to find solutions.
The STA also acts as the united voice of the Scottish tourism industry to represent the “bigger” issues and bring about the changes needed at all levels to ensure future growth of the tourism industry and the economy.
The STA has circa 70% -75% of the tourism sector as members either directly and indirectly through association with, membership has trebled in three years and continues to grow.
For more information on the STA and the National Strategy: Tourism Scotland 2020 please visit http://scottishtourismalliance.co.uk/ or call 01786 459 235