Community projects

Argyll and the Islands Tourism Co-operative

Background / Cùl-Fiosrachaidh

The Argyll and the Islands Tourism Co-operative (AITC) takes a lead role in the delivery of a sustainable, private sector led tourism model in order to grow the sector in Argyll.  It was set up in 2012 as the delivery arm of the Argyll and the Isles Strategic Tourism Partnership (AISTP) and is formally constituted as a co-operative.  There are currently 750 businesses and social enterprises engaged with AITC through the local Destination Management Organisation (DMO) structure in Argyll.

The Partnership / An Compàirteachas
The Purpose / An Rùn

Tourism offers a significant growth opportunity for Argyll as it possesses a wealth of environmental and cultural assets.  Turning these assets into experiences lies at the heart of Scotland’s priorities and actions for tourism growth.

This partnership has the potential to bring about a step-change in Argyll of a scale that will ensure the sustainability of the sector into the future.

AITC will deliver strong collaborative work between individual enterprises, leading to effective local marketing groups and sectoral networks implementing innovative projects.  The practical outcome of this partnership will be 1,000 tourism-related businesses and social enterprises being integrated into the Argyll and the Isles-wide tourism network that delivers effective training and support, enabling them to realise their ambitions.

HIE’s Contribution and Role / Cuideachadh bho HIE agus dleasdanas

The AITC Board has developed an effective high level membership with representatives from across the tourism sector, bringing extensive skills to the table.  AITSP oversees the strategic direction of the AITC and has a membership including HIE, Argyll and Bute Council (ABC) and VisitScotland.  HIE has also worked closely with the AITC to help the Board with strategic planning, staff recruitment and negotiations with the Council, providing PA consultancy support as appropriate.  In February 2014, AITC was granted £150,000 from HIE to deliver a programme of co-ordinated support and training to local tourism organisations.

AITC Chair, Connie Lovel, said the vote of confidence from two of the region’s biggest organisations provided a ‘fantastic platform’ from which to move forward.  “We are very pleased that HIE has acknowledged our pivotal role in providing a coherent approach to raising awareness of this region as a top tourist destination.  Over the last few months we have been working on various plans should the HIE funding be approved.  Now that we have that approval, it will be all systems go for AITC in a bid to ensure the funding has the maximum possible return for our tourism sector and the local community which benefits so greatly from it”, she added.

Expected Outcomes / Na Builean

AITC expects the following outcomes to be achieved by 31 March 2017:

  • 100 FTE equivalent additional employees within the sector (50% in fragile areas)
  • 1 sectoral development project completed
  • improved conditions for sectoral growth and network activity
  • 6 industry wide sustainable business collaboration projects in place and delivering benefits
  • 30% increase in DMO and sectoral group membership
  • capacity support provided to 1,000 SMEs / social enterprises via DMOs and sectoral groups
  • 20 clients supported to deliver growth aspirations
  • 5% increase in turnover in the Argyll tourism sector, or £7.5 million (currently £150 million)
  • 100 training event participants
  • 10 additional trainees within tourism sector
  • 10 additional volunteers within DMOs and sectoral groups


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