Currently generating just over £100 million a year for the Scottish economy – with market share predicted to increase to £145 million in the next ten years – sailing tourism is set to become one of the fastest growing activity markets for Scottish tourism.
Now, with the support of economic development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), a group of key industries is urging businesses, communities and individuals from across the marine tourism sector to take part in a consultation on the draft Marine Tourism Strategy.
The strategy is being launched today (Friday October 10) at the Scotland Boat Show in Inverkip, Renfrewshire.
Scotland is already recognised internationally as being a world class sailing destination. The industry has set out ambitious plans to enhance its reputation across international markets, and to develop a world class visitor experience as well as for Scotland to be internationally recognised as a vibrant high quality destination for events with first rate facilities.
The consultation will ensure the public play a full part in shaping the future of marine tourism in Scotland.
Steven Dott, HIE’s Senior Development Manager, said: “Sailing tourism, in particular is a key area of the marine offering in Scotland, bringing a very high spending tourism market to many of the remote and fragile communities of the Highlands and Islands.
“Given the massive growth potential of sailing tourism and the potential impacts on communities right acrossour region, one of our most important areas of work is to grow this sector. Having a more coordinated approach across the sector will help build on recent investments in projects such as Portavadie, Stornoway, and across the Highlands and Islands.
“This strategy will be used to inform decision making and activity across the sector in Scotland. From the outset, it seeks to work in collaboration at every level and is relevant to all businesses. Both British Marine Federation Scotland (BMFS) and Sail Scotland have played key roles in contributing to the growth and reputation of Scotland’s marine tourism businesses. As a world class sailing destination, we at HIE on behalf of the enterprise agencies are delighted to provide financial assistance to continue this work at a critical time of the sector’s development.”
HIE has been working closely with the sailing industry bodies including BMFS and Sail Scotland, the national marketing organisation for the marine tourism sector, in shaping and implementing the strategy.
A three-year finding package of £72,446 from HIE to BMFS will enable them to communicate and support the delivery of the strategy.
Simon Limb, Chairman of BMFS, said: “Scotland’s beautiful waters are unique - a national asset with space and capacity to grow. By working together with a defined strategy and direction, we can create large actions and results to unlock the future success of our marine and recreational boating tourism industry and realise our important contribution to Scotland’s growing economy.”
HIE is assisting Sail Scotland with £108,000 which includes support for a Chief Executive post for three years, enhancement to Sail Scotland’s digital presence, including a new website and it also supports a graduate placement post – part of HIE’s ScotGrad programme.
Gavin McDonagh, Chairman of Sail Scotland said: “There is no doubt that sailing in Scotland is a massive attraction. We have the variety of sailing waters together with the light and scenery rivalling anywhere in the world. This strategy is designed so that all partners involved in growing the marine sector work together to sell and market sailing in Scotland to its full potential. There is no doubt that with support from key agencies and with industry pulling together we can ensure that Scotland is a destination of first choice for sailing.”
James Stuart, Chief Executive of Royal Yachting Association Scotland, said: “The publication of this strategy is a major milestone in the development of Scotland’s marine tourism sector. It is the product of over four years work; starting with drawing together key groups and organisations as part of a cross party group and now building on the National Tourism Strategy: Tourism Scotland 2020.
“We have some of the very best sailing and boating waters in the world and by working to ensure all visitors to these waters have the very best experience possible our sports and our economy with thrive. That is why we are pleased to have played a part in getting the strategy to this stage and we remain committed to it as we step forward into delivery.
“Like all strategies, the impact is derived for those who are on the water and involved in the activity on a day to day basis. It is really important that all those who feel they have an interest share their thoughts to make the plan as good as it can be.”
The draft strategy focuses on the vision that by 2020 Scotland will be a marine destination of first choice for a high quality, value for money and memorable customer experience delivered by skilled and passionate people.