Scottish Marine Tourism Strategy Update

04 Aug 2016

Launched in March 2015 the Marine Tourism Strategy- Awakening the Giant looks to build on the tremendous assets Scotland has for tourism growth on or around the coastline. Drawing on fourteen sectors the strategy seeks to grow the value of Marine Tourism from to £360m to £450m by 2020 with sailing, the largest sector, set to grow from £101m to £145m.

In February the Marine Tourism Development Group (MTDG) agreed a ten-point project delivery plan aimed at bringing together the wide range of ambitions and long term objectives set out in the Strategy. A champion has been agreed for each of the ten projects.

The ten-point plan supports the three main themes of the Strategy; Building the Customer Experience, Enhancing the Customer Journey and Building our Capabilities.

Alan Rankin the Marine Tourism Strategy Project Manager said. “There has been an enormous amount of work behind the scenes getting the strategy launched and we are now in the action planning and delivery stages. The ten-point action plan approach brings together the various themes, ambitions and actions within the Strategy. The champions are now leading on the delivery work and identifying specific activities that will bring growth to the marine tourism sector.”

The ten-point plan and champions is as follows:

  • 1.Marine Tourism Scotland Events Plan: (EventScotland) Co-ordinated events plan across all sectors so placing Scotland as the premiere marine events destination in Europe.
  • 2.Themed routes’ and packages shop window: (SailScotland) Promotion of marine tourism routes and development of packaged products.
  • 3.Marine Digital Gateways: (Sail Scotland) Signposting the customer to a network of quality and rich in content digital information channels (www, social, advisory)
  • 4.Customer Feedback Scheme (Sail Scotland) Marine focussed feedback scheme adopted across sectors to establish information on customer experiences.
  • 5.Marine Tourism Skills Pathway Plan (British Marine Scotland)Attracting, developing and retaining staff in the industry, building customer service levels, skills, capacities and competencies.
  • 6.Marine Tourism Investment Framework (MTDG)One cohesive plan advising future investment based upon asset surveys and input from industry and users (facility, infrastructure, digital).
  • 7.Scottish Marine Tourism Convention (MTDG) Bringing together the industry and international best practice.
  • 8.Marketing Interest Group (SailScotland)Collaborative approach to campaign planning and industry participation in marketing initiatives.
  • 9.Environmental Charter (British Marine Scotland) Sectors to adopt and promote the most appropriate ‘environmental’ schemes so enhancing the reputation and credentials of the marine tourism industry.
  • 10.Marine Business Monitor (British Marine Scotland) Capturing up to date business information that has local and national relevance to business.

The MTDG outlined in a recent report to the Holyrood Cross Party Group on Recreational Boating and Tourism the activities that had taken place over the past six months. The report included:

The Crown Estate along with Scottish Canals and Highlands and Island Enterprise have commissioned research to identify a framework of investment opportunities that will bring economic growth to the local and wider economies. Consultants are currently gathering information with the report due to the MTDG by late autumn. The study will be set against the Scottish Government supported 2015 Scottish Marine Tourism and Recreation Survey.

EventScotland is working on an initial assessment of events and will look to consider major marine based events that could be brought to Scotland. The report to Holyrood also acknowledged the first St Kilda Challenge event and the new online club, Sailing and Cruising Scotland attracting over 3,500 members and their successful first gathering at Tarbert Loch Fyne attracting 43 yachts.

Sail Scotland (SS) has been busy leading the marketing and promoting of Scotland as a sailing destination to key markets identified in the strategy. Since the turn of the year they led the Scottish presence at London International Boat Show visited by circa 90,000 people, including media launch of the St Kilda Challenge and a digital campaign in partnership with VisitScotland. International marketing has included exhibiting at Gothenburg Boat Show visited by 65,000 people from key Scandinavian markets, and they organised the first Scottish stand at the Northern Boat Show in Liverpool in early June.

Sail Scotland now has a database of over 20,000 consumers across the UK and Europe and recently commenced a programme of strategic email marketing campaigns. Such recent activities have led to massive growth in reach and engagement across social media channels, and importantly has generated new business from first time and repeat visitors.

Sail Scotland members also benefited from two international marketing workshops in Ballahuilish and Glasgow run in partnership with Highlands and Island Enterprise and Scottish Development International.

Sail Scotland Chief Executive Officer, Daniel Steel, said: “Sail Scotland has been operating for over 20 years, but the past couple of years has seen our transformation into an effective and strategic national organisation. This work has included; improving governance; stakeholder engagement; new partnerships; new digital and social channels; a new-look national sailing tourism guide; promotional marketing campaigns; industry training and exhibiting in 7 countries. Our work stems from and is influenced by the National Strategic Framework as we build on our 2015 accolade of Cruising Ground of the Year. Our multi-channel and partner approach sees us taking key messages directly to targeted consumers in the UK and internationally through Boat Shows, social media, press events and email campaigns. We know from feedback from industry that this approach is working and we have even more planned going forward.”

Away from event and marketing activities British Marine Scotland (BMS) has delivered two social media workshops for members and has signposted members to the national Digital Tourism Scotland programme. BMS has delivered three Welcome Afloat customer service skills training courses in Oban, Largs and Glasgow. Further course dates and venues will be arranged to suit demand. BMS has recently launched a new careers campaign and toolkit to help raise the profile of the varied and rewarding career opportunities in the marine industry. The toolkit aims to connect with young people and careers advisers.

BMS has begun research designed to gather information on employees, salary and benefits, training and recruitment in the marine industry, vital to help promote the industry as a vibrant, dynamic sector for jobseekers and to ensure businesses can recruit and train high quality staff. BMS is also updating their 2009 skills study to provide clear, current information on demand for skills training within the marine industries in Scotland.

BMS are leading discussions around provision of boatbuilding training in Scotland. There is currently no Modern Apprenticeship framework dedicated to boatbuilding in Scotland as there has not appeared to be sufficient demand to make it viable. The existing City & Guilds qualifications are currently being redeveloped to meet new apprenticeship requirements in England. BMS is looking to find a way to make this work in Scotland.

A spokesperson for BMS said. “British Marine is proud to have been one of the lead organisations in the development of the Marine Tourism Strategy and to work with both private and public sectors to gain awareness of the ambitions for growing Scottish marine tourism. These are exciting times for the Scottish Marine Tourism Industry and the trade acknowledges that there will be many opportunities to expand the market as a result of Marine Tourism playing an ever more important role within the growing Scottish Tourism Economy. In terms of infrastructure, regeneration, careers and training British Marine Scotland are determined to be proactive in assisting the Scottish Marine Industry to be ready to support the new and exciting opportunities that evolve as the strategy is delivered.”

The private and public sector partners on the MTDG will continue to deliver the National Marine Tourism Strategy and will in the coming months be reporting progress to the industry and Holyrood. The full Holyrood update can be seen along with further details of the Marine Tourism Strategy at