As part of our Ayrshire & Arran takeover on our corporate social media channels this week, read the latest blog from our Regional Director, Gordon Smith.
Operators across the visitor economy in Ayrshire & Arran go into the final quarter of the year with a strong resolve continuing to adopt creative business solutions in what continues to be challenging times for our industry. Our insights tell us coasts and countryside remain popular choices for visitors looking to get away from the stress of the last 18 months and young people and families were the first to capitalise when restrictions began easing. Ayrshire & Arran is well placed to cater for these markets and tourism and events can play a key role in recovery from the pandemic.
The new industry-led Destination Management and Marketing Organisation, Ayrshire & Arran Destination Alliance, is the latest development contributing towards a more joined-up tourism proposition as the region looks to develop plans for recovery. Throughout 2020 and 2021 VisitScotland has been delivering marketing activity to a UK-wide audience, on behalf of East, North and South Ayrshire Councils. The campaign with online travel agent Expedia generated more than 2,800 room nights bookings, valued over £260,000. The Coig’s #MakeItYours social media campaign working in partnership with East, North and South Ayrshire Councils and VisitScotland helped generate social media interest in the run up to school and summer holidays. There have also been digital articles with lifestyle publications like Red and Good Housekeeping to drive consumer interest in what our region has to offer. Partnership working with a range of organisations including VisitArran and Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere also continues to grow.
Ayrshire & Arran also benefits from our national promotions like the Now Is Your Time campaign, which was our main marketing activity for the summer and began with the theme of days out before moving to short stays, city breaks, family gatherings and escape and connect experiences to benefit physical and mental wellbeing. Responsible tourism is a key priority so we have been working with communities and visitors, as well as linking up with local campaigns to #RespectProtectEnjoy the wonderful natural assets in Ayrshire & Arran. With the easing of restrictions for international travel, engagement with global markets is a key priority and almost 200 people joined our recent industry webinar 'Marketing Scotland internationally'.
Scotland's events industry is also in recovery having shown spirit, resilience and adaptability throughout the pandemic. The events sector in Scotland is worth an estimated £6 billion so ensuring its survival and recovery as part of our tourism offer is not only important economically but also to the health and wellbeing and social fabric of Scotland. Through support from EventScotland, a number of events have taken place across the region including Largs Viking Festival, Signal at Dusk, and Culzean by the Sea, with both Signal at Dusk and Culzean by the Sea in celebration of Scotland's Year of Coasts and Waters 20/21.
Next year we look forward to the Year of Stories 2022 to celebrate and promote the wealth of stories inspired by, written, or created in Scotland. There’s still time to apply for the first round of the Community Stories Fund which is open to applications until 1 October but a further round of funding will open in the New Year. Tourism and events are a force for good not just because of the economic aspect but because they enrich our lives socially and without them Ayrshire & Arran would be a much poorer place.