In the lovely surroundings of Inglewood House and Spa, Alloa, over 80 guests gathered to hear about the development of tourism in the smallest county in Scotland this week. The guest list was a mix of those involved directly in the industry such as Dunmar House Hotel and The Woods Caravan Park along with those with a more indirect involvement in the tourism trade such as Siabann skin products, Handmade Tempting Treats and ourselves, not forgetting representatives from both local and national bodies.
Indeed, it was the national body for tourism, VisitScotland that kicked off the evening. Without doubt, their professionalism shone through. Vicki Miller, Head of Customer Experience, took us through their presentation and finished off with this recent promotional video:
Stylish and slick, emotional too for those of us who are Scottish, creating a sense of pride and a desire to visit for those out with the country.
The underlying message from VisitScotland was to Discover Clackmannanshire and that from the various local businesses was the declining numbers of footfall through the Visitor Information channels due to the large increase, up to 68%, of visitors now starting their journey online. Scottish tourism needs to move to digital, using visitor’s unique experiences across various digital channels to speak to them and increase the pull of Scotland as a destination.
Kim Proven, Chair of LETi (Loch Earn Tourism Information) and owner of Briar cottages backed this up by saying ‘a listing is not enough - you need to focus on something unique or a story to tell. This story through social media will attract people to your website and in turn increase bookings.’
The contrast with the Clackmannanshire tourism presentation was marked. It was obvious that there is an honesty about their current situation – they are arriving late to the game but keen to get involved as much as possible, using both their own resources as well as developing a useful network with in the county to support the development plans.
So what are their ambitions? The key highlights were:
- To build their capabilities – collaborate with local businesses and authorities, develop their tourism brand & promote their initiatives to promote tourism.
- Improve the customer journey – digital needs attention across the board from food and drink promotion, transport links, accommodation and visitor information.
- Turning assets into experiences – culture and heritage, nature and activities, business tourism, events & festivals and destination development.
- Strategic context and opportunities – National tourism development, Focus years (2016 Innovation, Architecture & Design), golf tourism, whisky trails
Kevin Deighan, Project Manager for ClacksFirst BID spoke of a possible Clackmannanshire Heritage trail which would incorporate three of the main areas of growth in Scottish tourism - mountain biking/cycling, golf and a whisky visitors centre, creating reasons to visit and stay in Clackmannanshire.
To conclude, it is important to remember the impact of tourism on the Scottish economy. Clackmannanshire tourism has ambition so it is now time for the heart and soul on display presented this week to be transferred into action – whether a tourism business or not, this should create an opportunity for all businesses to not only assist in creating a better tourism product in Clackmannanshire but also create new business streams for themselves.
If you require any digital or marketing assistance to develop your tourism business please contact firstname.lastname@example.org