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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 20/06/2022

Find out about our recent activity to support recovery for Argyll & the Isles alongside partners. From industry support to new campaigns and PR activity, read on for the latest in Argyll & the Isles tourism updates.


David Adams McGilp headshot Introduction from David Adams McGilp, Regional Director, VisitScotland 

Tourism businesses and operators across Argyll & the Isles and beyond are experiencing their first full season without any legal restrictions in three long years. It’s been a torrid time for our industry and while 2022 has brought some degree of optimism, it's still a difficult operating environment for many with the local and global challenges we face.  

International visitors are returning but travel issues remain, the cost of living is putting a squeeze on budgets and making the everyday experience for our businesses difficult. 

We’re working hand in hand with partners and our tourism and events industry to rebuild this vital part of Argyll & the Isles’ economy and providing the right support to lead the recovery along with key partners in the region. 

We have been supporting the marketing activity of Wild About Argyll, Explore Islay & Jura and Destination Helensburgh to entice visitors back, through the Destination & Sector Marketing Fund, administered by us, as part of the recovery programme on behalf of the Scottish Government.  

Another welcome note is the return of in-person events of all sizes, which as well as encouraging visitor numbers also provide that important buzz and social interaction we’ve missed so much. We're supporting a number of these events through our EventScotland programme and Year of Stories this summer, including Fèis Ìle / The Islay Festival, Luss Highland Games, Tiree Music Festival and Dandelion Free for all Helensburgh - Scotland’s contribution to UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK. 

The impact of tourism spreads far beyond the industry itself - it benefits our economy, our community and our wellbeing. I hope we can all look forward to a more predictable and enjoyable summer period and do remember to contact the local VisitScotland team in Argyll & Isles where we can provide a range of support and advice to tourism businesses.

Discover Scotland: Reconnect 2022

In April, Scottish tourism businesses joined us for Discover Scotland: Reconnect 2022 to engage with tour operators, travel advisors and Destination Management Companies representing key global markets, to drive bookings from international visitors once again. 

The event, which is part of our activity to rebuild international tourism demand and support the country's ambition to be a leading destination for responsible tourism, saw over 324 Scottish businesses (including 12 businesses from Argyll & the Isles) engaged with 298 international tour operators and travel agents from 21 global markets. 

4,455 meetings were facilitated on the virtual platform through 1-2-1 meetings, highlighting the best of Scotland's responsible tourism products. 

If you're interested in joining us at next year’s event, make sure you are signed up to our Tourism Insider newsletter.

Year of Stories 2022

Funded events programme 

In the first half of the year, a number of events supported through our Community Stories Fund kicked off including:

  • Our Stories: Traditional Gaelic Storytelling sessions from Auchindrain – the last surviving Scottish Highland township, based near Inveraray in Argyll – are presenting a new series of Argyll folk tales on their YouTube channel.
  • Tìr Ìseal nan Òran (Tiree: low land of song) takes place in Tiree from February to July, celebrating Tiree’s stories, heritage, culture and Gaelic language.
  •  If Our Trees Could Talk event took place at Cove Park in April, featuring storytelling sessions and a climate café event

Not familiar with Scotland's Year of Stories? Watch our introduction video and find out more on our Year of Stories web page.

Scotland's Year of Stories 2022

An update from our Oban and Bute iCentres

In June, we were pleased to reopen the Discovery Centre Cinema on Bute in our Rothesay iCentre in time for the holiday weekend. Contractors finished work installing an air conditioning system to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, to keep customers and staff safe. 

Our iCentre in Oban also had some new window graphics applied externally and internally and benefitted from some new retail shelving and branding. 

Isle of Bute Discovery Centre
Isle of Bute Discovery Centre
Image credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

Our Argyll & the Isles marketing activity

VisitScotland and Sustrans partnership

In April, we launched a campaign in partnership with Sustrans to promote the Scotrail Highland Explorer. Thanks to a publishing partnership with Reach Media, the campaign featured in the Daily Record and Sunday Mail as well as paid social media promotion. Activity is driving visitors to a dedicated landing page on featuring cycle routes in the region.

Scotland is Calling

As part of phase two of our Scotland is Calling campaign a NewsUK Times article featured Bute Paddle Boards, Leafield Alpaca Trekking, Isle of Bute Craft Gin Distillery, Kintyre 66 and Gigha. 

News UK's Facebook advertising also featured Tobermory. 

Scotland is Calling

Our Argyll & the Isles consumer marketing and PR content updates

Across our consumer facing website and consumer PR, we're always publishing content that features businesses across regions in Scotland to help inspire future visitors. Have a look at where Argyll & the Isles has been featured in the last five months.

Corporate Communications activity

Our Corporate Communications team works to ensure that tourism is seen as Scotland's most important industry through regular communication and PR activity with media and the tourism industry. Have a look at some of our recent press coverage and corporate website updates.

Press coverage 

From January 2022 to May 2022, our Corporate Communications team’s regional press activity had a total combined reach of 266,721 across 51 articles. 

Among the coverage, featured stories included:

  • VisitScotland reveals top images of Argyll & the Isles for 2021 from our Instagram

  • Year of Scotland’s Stories 

  • EventScotland funded programme 

  • Discover Scotland travel trade event 

  • Scottish Thistle Awards 

  • Agritourism 

  • Destination & Sector Marketing funded activity 

  • Supporting tourism and responsible tourism activity

Hear from your local Destination Management Organisation

Cathy Craig, CEO, Argyll & the Isles Tourism Cooperative (AITC)

AITC have been working with partners VisitScotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Argyll & Bute Council to produce a three-year Visitor Economy Recovery & Growth strategy which was launched at an event at Inverary Castle in June. The strategy brings together the insight, information and resources of the four organisations to inform an annual action plan to achieve the four strategic priorities: 

  • Extending the season and spreading visitors across the destination; with a focus on those destinations that can manage visitors and have a provision in the shoulder periods.
  • Reach new audiences; by presenting all the different ways in which Argyll & the Isles can be enjoyed e.g. walking, paddling, swimming, biking, eating & drinking and local producers and artists.
  • Improving the offer; continuing to improve the Wild About Argyll websites and social channels to ensure Argyll & the Isles content is inspirational and practical. And, to work with local businesses on new visitor product development and support for new legislation and sustainability.
  • The journey to net zero; working closely with VisitScotland as the lead and supporting businesses in how they can reduce their carbon footprint and having clear messaging and ways to actively get involved with responsible tourism. 

The season is well underway in Argyll & the Isles and businesses are generally reporting that business is "patchy". Some businesses are experiencing cancellations of long-term bookings due to the opening up of international travel. Self-catering seems to be performing well with any repeat visitors – some of whom were new to the area from last year. There are international visitors around; American and Dutch seem to be the primary visitors in the first quarter of the year. Some of our businesses are very busy and managing with reduced staff capacity which is affecting opening days and times. Overall, our resilient and entrepreneurial tourism businesses are navigating the challenges ahead and remain cautiously optimistic about recovery. 

Following a series of workshops delivered with Highlands and Islands Enterprise Leadership funding around the topic of product development, a number of new visitor products are evident across mid Argyll and Kintyre. Activity providers are proactively working with accommodation businesses to create exciting new multi-sensory products such as foraging, wild swimming and local produce packages. Simple and very effective ways in which to combine experiences which is proving very popular with visitors and businesses alike. 

AITC have two exciting campaigns underway. Pedaddling; showcases the breadth of marine and land-based activities Argyll has to offer and is attracting new audiences to the destination. Above and Below invites visitors to experience the marine and celestial environment through responsible, no or low cost activities and encourages businesses to consider how they can create their own Above and Below visitor information and experiences.