Media release: European partnership to upskill adventure tourism in five countries announced

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IN response to the fast-changing adventure tourism environment in Scotland, the rest of the UK and throughout Europe, Lochaber Chamber of Commerce and the University of the Highlands and Islands have today, (12/11/17), announced a new European Commission support funded trans-national partnership with higher education institutions in Estonia, Bulgaria, Ireland and Denmark.

From early in 2018, The Adventure Tourism Innovation Partnerships (AVIP) project, that includes Lochaber Chamber of Commerce (UK), the University of the Highlands and Islands (UK) – lead partner, Tallinn University (ESTONIA), Varna Chamber of Tourism (BULGARIA), Momentum (IRELAND) and the European E-learning Institute (DENMARK), will develop education and training programmes to strengthen the skills base of young people and adults working in the adventure tourism sector, particularly for those economies constrained by structural weaknesses and disadvantage by their remote locations.

Responding to regional skills gaps in the adventure tourism sector the AVIP project has been set up to deliver quality, relevant, flexible, innovative and transferrable learning pathways to students, entrepreneurs, employees and other practitioners. These vocational and academic pathways will not only meet the industry requirement for enhanced digital competencies and entrepreneurial capabilities, they will also focus on empowering individuals and organisations to respond to and capitalise on the growing opportunities within the adventure tourism sector.

Adventure tourism is widely recognised as a powerful tool that can promote sustainable development in rural and economically marginal areas, generating smart employment and jobs growth, as well as providing strong incentives for conserving the natural environment.

Project partners acknowledge that to support the industry’s ambitions for growth there is a need to develop skills in key areas including management and leadership; marketing and digital technologies; product innovation; enabling high quality customer experiences and ensuring the availability of appropriate training. Cross-cultural forums and innovative partnerships will ensure an alliance that pools resources, expertise and experience from across the five countries to deliver exceptional skills development in these essential areas, whilst assisting in driving the industry forward.

Project partners also believe that The Adventure Tourism Innovation Partnerships (AVIP) project is transformative.

It will create lasting impact for higher education institutions and their graduates, entrepreneurs and businesses, particularly SMEs and their employees, and will respond directly to the transformational changes in sustainable tourism.

Dr Steve Taylor, head of the University of the Highlands and Islands’ Centre for Recreation and Tourism Research, commented: “This is a great opportunity for Lochaber Chamber of Commerce and West Highland College UHI to help bring cutting-edge training to tourism businesses in the region.

“We look forward to collaborating with our international partners, and working with businesses and tourism organisations in Lochaber and the wider Highlands region to develop meaningful and instructive training courses to this increasingly important sub-sector of the Scottish economy.”

The (AVIP) project, which has been funded with support from the European Commission, was announced as Lochaber Chamber of Commerce’s Lochaber ideas Week – 13 – 17 November 2017, a celebration of business, education and community through a gathering of exceptional talks, workshops, competitions, discussion and networking opportunities, gets under way. Lochaber Ideas Week is a catalyst to stimulate fresh initiatives and ventures, creating new connections and points of collaboration designed to enhance Fort William and Lochaber, the ‘Outdoor Capital of the UK’, as a fantastic place in which to live, work and visit.


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Notes to editors:

The Adventure Tourism Innovation Partnerships (AVIP) project outputs include:

  1. Adventure Tourism Regional Innovation Partnership Plans: Collaborating to identify skills gaps, develop flexible learning pathways and exchange best practices for results-based pedagogy.
  1. Immersion in Digital Technologies Open Educational Resource: Partners introduce innovative training to transform graduate and SME capacity to digitise their business experience.
  1. Innovating New Products: Open Educational Resources: Learners will unleash their creative capacity through acquisition of commercialisation skills and competencies.
  1. Open Online Collaborative Learning and Knowledge Exchange Platform: A mobile platform promotes ‘communities of learning’; fostering trans-national cooperation to speed up learning and to improve innovation through a virtual cluster.

The Adventure Tourism Innovation Partnerships (AVIP) project partners:

Lochaber Chamber of Commerce (UK) (LCC) is a not-for-profit business membership organisation, whose core priority is the economic development of the area. Lochaber Chamber of Commerce (LCC) is the recognised Destination Management Organisation for Lochaber, Scotland and works closely with Highlands & Islands Enterprise and Visit Scotland on business development and area marketing. Lochaber Chamber‘s core priorities include building business connections to create trading opportunities, connecting education and the skills with the needs of the business, Promoting Lochaber as a great place to live, work, study and visit and working with partners to develop the right sustainable infrastructure.

Lochaber Chamber of Commerce on Twitter:

Lochaber Chamber of Commerce on Facebook:

The University of the Highlands and Islands (UK) is among the United Kingdom’s leading integrated universities encompassing both further education (FE) and higher education (HE). Based in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and with 40,000 FE and HE students, its distinctive partnership of 13 independent colleges and research institutions is locally based and rooted in communities, but with national and international reach.

AVIP is focused on one of the 13 aforementioned colleges and research centres: West Highland College. The College has undertaken a wide range of adventure tourism knowledge exchange and consultancy projects, both in the UK and overseas. It has developed and co-hosts the annual adventure conference and collaborates on academic work with universities across the globe.

Tallinn University (ESTONIA) has the leading role in promoting and developing an ‘intelligent lifestyle ‘in Estonia, thus supporting both Estonian sustainability, as well as self-actualisation for individuals. Wishing to contribute more to the society, they interpret intelligent lifestyle as making research-based decisions in order to improve the society in general and the well-being of its citizens. By developing research carried out in Estonia for the development of Estonia, the university integrates into European education and research arena seeking the development of Estonia as a country with a smart economy and an astute organisation of society.

Varna Chamber of Tourism (BULGARIA) (VCT) is a regional tourism organisation which boasts over 100 members from across the tourism sector in the region including tourism activity providers, hospitality management companies and proprietors, travel agencies, non-government organisations, educational establishments, advertisers, insurers and individual members. Its slogan is clear: ‘Together we can accomplish what we can’t do separately!’

Momentum (IRELAND) is an Irish VET organisation focused on developing progressive learning programmes and platforms for education with special focus on the tourism economy. They combine an intimate knowledge of the responsible tourism landscape with their VET specialisms of blended learning and professional development training in tourism entrepreneurship, rural economy regeneration, community stimulus training incorporating new approaches to marketing, innovation, internationalisation, competitiveness and business improvement.

European E-learning Institute (DENMARK) (EUEI) specialises in the creation of powerful online platforms, immersive educational environments and provision of resources and tools to create truly valuable learning experiences. EUEI was founded on the concept of ‘continuing education'; a post-secondary education programme that provides further enrichment to learners in a wide range of sectors, covering topics that are professional and/or personal. As an organisation, EUEI places tremendous worth on the informal and flexible nature of continuing education and crafting flexible, online learning courses for those wishing to improve themselves and stay ahead in their careers and in business. Building inclusive and resilient communities is also a key goal of the organisation.

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