SCOTLAND’S Marine Tourism Conference 2019 was opened by Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy, Fergus Ewing MSP.
The event was brought to Greenock for the second time and was held at The Beacon Arts Centre, looking out across the Firth of Clyde.
Organised by Sail Scotland, the national sailing tourism marketing organisation, it was supported by Inverclyde Council and Caledonian MacBrayne.
The conference provided an unique opportunity to bring the sector together to encourage new ideas, partnerships and increased collaboration with speakers from VisitScotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, West Coast Marine Tourism Collaboration, CalMac Ferries, Wales Tourism Alliance, and Superyacht UK.
Legendary maritime adventurer, Jock Wishart, inspired the conference with his incredible endurance challenges from leading a six-man team to row to the magnetic North Pole, and steering a Scots-dominated team to win the 2018 Commodores Cup.
Chief executive of Surfers Against Sewage, Hugo Tagholm, also joined to give an international perspective on the challenges of ocean plastics and how communities can come together to act and protect our marine and coastal environments.
Sail Scotland chair, Gavin McDonagh, said: “With extensive coast lines and beautiful scenery, it is little surprise that tourism is one of Scotland’s key industries – and marine tourism delivers benefits to some of our most remote and rural businesses and communities.
“It was great to see the industry coming together to collaborate, and to think collectively about how we continue to grow marine tourism – as this conference has demonstrated, there is no shortage of ideas about how we continue to move the sector forward.”
Sail Scotland’s chief executive officer, Daniel Steel, added: “Sailing tourism supports 2,700 jobs and has an economic value of over £130 million, with identified potential to grow to £167 million over the next couple of years, so it is no surprise that there is huge interest in the sector.
“We have developed and grown Scotland’s Marine Tourism Conference, now in its fourth year, to directly support of the National Marine Tourism Strategy. With over 100 delegates from across Scotland, it has grown into a key annual event which inspires and challenges delegates to collaborate, innovate, and ensure that we work together to make the most of the opportunities ahead as we plan for Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020.”
Marie Christie, VisitScotland’s head of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020, spoke at the event to outline the opportunity of Scotland’s next themed year. She said: “2020’s Themed Year presents an opportunity for the industry to spotlight, celebrate and promote all the wonderful ways to experience and enjoy Scotland’s unrivalled coasts and waters, encouraging responsible engagement and participation from locals and visitors alike. It was exciting to see so much enthusiasm for the year at the conference, with industry getting on board and preparing to maximise the impact of the year.”
Sail Scotland’s collaborative work with West Highland College UHI also saw students from their Marine and Coastal Tourism degree course help in delivering the conference, creating direct links between education and industry.
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