Gordon Smith, VisitScotland Regional Director, said: “2018 was a successful year for tourism in Ayrshire & Arran and there’s lots to look forward to this year. From world class golf courses to top attractions, superb events to outstanding food and drink, awe-inspiring landscapes to stunning scenery, the region has so much to offer visitors.
“In Autumn last year VisitScotland carried out marketing activity with all three Ayrshire Councils to encourage people to visit the region. We increased visits to the Ayrshire & Arran destination page on visitscotland.com by sharing inspirational imagery and new website content on social media. Our ‘Take a different path’ video received almost 527,000 views on Facebook.
“We also ran a campaign to support Illuminight and over 42,000 people visited Dean Castle Country Park for the magical outdoor light event. Illuminight, which was also supported by our Scottish Winter Festival Funding, is an example of the region providing top events, keeping up with ever-changing consumer demands and ensuring visitors have the best experience possible.
“The recent announcement by the Scottish Government of a £300,000 funding boost for tourism across Ayrshire, Firth of Clyde and Clyde islands has come as welcome news. This funding will support development of the exciting new tourism driving routes initiative ‘Five Routes – One Great Adventure’ showcasing the natural beauty of the region and beyond.
“Over £240 million is being invested in the Ayrshire Growth Deal, which will help to grow a number of industries in the region, including tourism. A range of innovative projects will be funded by the Growth Deal and VisitScotland looks forward to supporting where they can.
“Tourism is already on the rise in the region with new data showing a 10% increase in tourism employment between 2012 and 2017. This is evidence of the sector’s integral role in sustaining communities across Ayrshire & Arran by creating jobs and stimulating social change.
“On the Isle of Arran, we can look forward to the opening of the Lagg Distillery and Visitor Centre in Spring. With one in five visiting a whisky distillery during their holiday to Scotland it is a key element of the country’s tourism offering and I’m sure this new attraction will encourage visitors to come to this special island.
“Planning is already underway for the Year of Coasts and Waters 2020, a year-long programme of events and activities which will shine a spotlight on the impact our waters have on our country. With its remarkable marine and coastal tourism offering, this Themed Year is an excellent opportunity for Ayrshire & Arran to showcase itself as a top visitor destination. I would encourage everyone in the region to keep up to date and make the most of the opportunities that will arise from this themed year.
“We can also look forward to Royal Troon hosting the British Women’s Open in 2020. With Golf Tourism valued at £17.1m to Ayrshire’s economy, events like this present an opportunity for the region’s tourism industry to come together and ensure we make the most of the benefits brought by this competition.
“I am optimistic for what 2019 and beyond has in store for the region. Tourism is at the heart of Scotland’s economy and VisitScotland wants it to go from good to great to world class. In Ayrshire & Arran we want to champion collaboration, promote local areas and ensure tourism is recognised for the ripple effect of success, well-being and prosperity it brings.”