The proposals by Argyll and the Islands Tourism Co-operative (AITC) will focus on adventure tourism, events and festivals, and food and drink tourism.
AITC brings together the area’s destination marketing organisations. It was formed in 2012 as a cooperative of members and now represents around 1200 tourism interests.
With this funding it will provide strategic leadership across the sector, support development of new products and services and increase sector capacity and capability.
HIE has approved funding of up to £240,000 over the three year period to support the plans. The money will cover development costs with targets and outputs defined by HIE.
This funding follows a three year investment from Argyll and Bute Council which combines with member subscriptions to cover core funding and marketing, with additional support provided by the partners on the Argyll and The Isles Strategic Tourism Partnership Group.
In 2015 tourism in Argyll employed around 6,500 people. The sector plays a vital role in the economic sustainability and viability of many rural communities, and significant investments by entrepreneurs and companies have created employment.
In addition to working with AITC, the HIE team in Argyll and the Islands works with more than a dozen tourism clients, who deliver growth in the sector and make a significant contribution to the economy.
Jennifer Nicoll, HIE’s area manager for Argyll and the Islands, said: “This ambitious project outlines plans to grow the tourism sector across Argyll and Bute; something that will ultimately lead to new jobs, increased turnover and more international trade.
“These aspirations are aligned with our aims to support the sector’s continued growth, thereby supporting business and the rural economy and improving wider community resilience.
“I welcome the plans and look forward to supporting their implementation.”
Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) chair Gavin Dick said: “We are delighted that HIE has continued to support our work to develop Argyll and the Isles as one of Scotland's top tourist destinations.”
He added “An independent assessment of tourism growth in the region and AITC’s performance from 2011-2016 concluded that the region has been comprehensively outperforming Scotland as a whole, and while this is by no means down to the activity of AITC alone, it clearly demonstrates that the combined efforts of everyone involved in the industry is having an impact. We are keen to see this growth continue and this investment from HIE combined with the Council’s three year funding package will be key to that happening.
“Recent research by VisitScotland shows the tourism industry in Argyll and Bute accounts for 17% of employment opportunities – almost double the national average, it is a vital part of our economy. This funding means we can continue to promote our message, both at home and further afield and to develop the product and experiences for visitors to Scotland’s Adventure Coast.
“We have been developing plans with HIE, and now this funding has been approved we can get on with ensuring we deliver the maximum possible return for visitors who come to the region and the businesses and destination marketing organisations we represent."
The funding award from HIE follows the assessment and review of the Argyll adventure tourism offer undertaken with long distance cyclist, Mark Beaumont, in 2016 as part of the Wild about Argyll Adventure and Film project.
A copy of the assessment and recommendations can be obtained from firstname.lastname@example.org