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Sail Scotland Conference Underlines How Marine Tourism Can Buoy Scottish Economy

24 Mar 2016

Sail Scotland and tourism leaders highlighted the huge potential of marine tourism on Tuesday 15th of March as tourism businesses from across Scotland gathered at The Chartroom Restaurant at Kip Marina for the first ever Sail Scotland Conference.

Part of the Scottish Tourism Week (STW 2016) Programme and proudly sponsored by The Chartroom, Caledonian MacBrayne and Inverclyde Council, the inaugural Sail Scotland Conference focused on sharing best practice and encouraging strategic collaboration within sailing and marine tourism.

Opening the event Inverclyde’s Provost, Robert Moran, welcomed delegates to the Clyde on a glorious spring morning. Stuart McMillan MSP who convenes the Cross Party Group on Recreational Boating and Marine Tourism talked about the collaborative approach from government and industry in developing an agreed strategy, and congratulated Sail Scotland on bringing the industry together and picking up the Sailing Today Award as “World’s Best Sailing Destination” in 2015.

Sail Scotland Chief Executive outlined some of the strategic work Sail Scotland has led over the past two years achieve this accolade, including collaborative marketing campaigns involving Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Scottish Development International and VisitScotland, targeting key domestic and international markets. Targeted work spanning UK, German, and Scandinavian markets and brand partnership with Talisker and Musto contributed to a campaign which generated over £1.3 million additional economic impact for the Scottish economy.

Adding to the strategic nature of the event, Scottish Tourism Alliance Chief Executive Marc Crothall delivered a presentation on the national strategy review, highlighting how sailing and marine tourism has a key role to play in helping Scottish tourism to reach achieve the aspirational growth target of £5.5 billion, and inspiring delegates to achieve the Tourism 2020 vision, that ‘Scotland will be a destination of first choice for a high quality, value for money and memorable customer experience, delivered by skilled and passionate people.”

Robert Wicks, Chief Operating Officer of Powerboat P1, provided delegates with an insight into stakeholder collaboration for international events, and shared a tantalising glimpse of what awaits spectators on the Clyde this summer when the first Scottish Grand Prix of the Seas takes place at Greenock in June 2016.

Project Manager for the National Marine Tourism Strategy, Alan Rankin, showed the progress made since Fergus Ewing MSP launched the strategy in Scottish Tourism Week 2015, highlighting key actions to grow the sector, and acknowledging the scale of economic opportunity with marine tourism already worth an estimated £360 million to Scotland, in comparison to golf at £220 million.

Closing the inaugural event, Sail Scotland Chairman Gavin McDonagh said: “We are delighted that our first ever Sail Scotland Conference could be part of Scottish Tourism Week in what will become an annual event bringing businesses together to focus on marine tourism. We have been operating as the industry-led national marketing body for over 20 years, but the past two years have seen us go from strength-to-strength, playing a major role in developing the national strategy, delivering real economic benefit through our targeted marketing activities, and making sure that Scotland is truly viewed as a destination of first choice for sailing and marine tourism.”

“Sail Scotland is a very strong consumer brand acknowledged in the international marketplace. It is the agreed call to action brand for all partners involved in the national marine tourism strategy, and I have no doubt that with increased support of government and our partner agencies to further stimulate demand in key markets we will collectively ensure that we cement our position as ‘world’s best’ over the next four years to 2020.”