Rural areas shouldn’t lose out in ‘winning years’ tourism strategy

19/11/2012

Glasgow shouldn’t be the only area to benefit from the Commonwealth Games when they come to Scotland in 2014, according to a report by the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee into VisitScotland’s ‘winning years’ strategy.

The Committee also expressed concern that ‘The Gathering’ event will no longer take place in Stirling, which was intended to be part of the Homecoming 2014 celebrations, and has written to VisitScotland to ask for an explanation. 

Convener of the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee Murdo Fraser MSP said:

“It is clear that those in the industry welcome this concerted campaign to capitalise on these big ticket events like the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup in 2014.

“However, the Committee heard concerns that the impact may only be felt in our big cities. We were promised that a plan for a Scotland-wide marketing campaign is imminent. This must now be delivered.

“There also appears to be a lack of detail on the plans for after the tourists have gone home in 2014. This Committee has already reported the industry is unlikely to grow its revenue by 50 per cent by 2015, so in order to scrutinise future plans, MSPs need that detail, as does the tourism industry itself, in order to support sustainable growth in the sector.”

In summary the report has concluded that:

  • The winning years initiative was praised by industry practitioners who felt that it was a “great marketing idea” and a “fantastic opportunity for Scotland”;
  • However, the Committee notes the concerns that the ‘winning years’ is focused on urban areas and high profile events and that rural areas may not benefit equally;
  • The Committee was concerned at the lack of detail for plans following 2014. Although initial discussions have taken place, the Committee have asked for regular updates from VisitScotland on its proposed marketing activity beyond 2014;
  • The Committee welcomes the representations made to the UK Government on air passenger duty;
  • The Committee has written to VisitScotland and the Scottish Government asking for an update on the cancellation of The Gathering and the alternative arrangements being put in place as part of Homecoming 2014.

Background

The ‘winning years’ is the collective term for the eight major events and milestones taking place from 2012-2014. It is a call to action to get the tourism industry, and a range of other partner organisations, working together to deliver for the visitor economy over the coming years. The major events are: the year of Creative Scotland; the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee; the London Olympic and the Paralympic Games; Disney-Pixar’s Brave; the year of Natural Scotland; Homecoming Scotland; Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup. 

This inquiry was launched following a report produced by the Committee in February, in which concern was expressed about the achievability of the 50 per cent growth target. The Scottish Government and the tourism industry have an ambition of increasing gross tourism revenues by 50 per cent (in real terms) by 2015, using the revenue figures for 2005 as the baseline. To address any uncertainty, the Committee has asked for yearly statements from VisitScotland on progress towards meeting the target, as well as plans to address any shortfall in progress.