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Article published 17/10/2022

Introduction from Gordon Smith, Regional Director

Image of Gordon Smith, Regional Director It has been fantastic to see the return of domestic and international visitors to our region this summer. We’ve enjoyed The Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open at Dundonald Links, Making Waves Festival, Year of Stories 2022 ‘Once Upon A Time in South Ayrshire’ and the Arran Festival of Food and Drink to name a few highlights.  

As we approach the autumn and winter season, we will continue to work with partners in our tourism and events industry on promoting activity that extends the season and ensuring Scotland and Ayrshire & Arran remains front of mind for potential visitors.   

We’re prioritising activities that will stimulate demand and new bookings for the industry to support its long-term recovery with more details in the update below.   

We know that many businesses are facing difficult decisions and are having to consider how they adapt their operations to manage the cost challenges. We would encourage you to visit our industry website for all the latest industry advice, support and guidance and we will bring you news on industry events taking place in the region.    

We also want to take the opportunity to celebrate our tourism and events industry who have worked tirelessly in the past two years. The return of the Scottish Thistle Awards regional finals later this month offers us the chance to do this and I would like to wish all those shortlisted the very best of luck. 

Helping visitors to discover Ayrshire & Arran


Highlighting the region with influencers and brands 

During the summer months, Arran was featured in several campaigns with influencers and brands visiting the island and creating content for their social media channels. 

  • During a US press trip, US influencers The Adventure Addicts visited and documented their time exploring Arran as part of a Scotland series with VisitScotland and GoPro.
  • Influencer Dear Natasha Lou worked with us to cover how to explore islands responsibly and visited some of Arran's amazing sustainable product as part of a visitor management campaign. 
  • Influencers Flying The Nest supported a partnership campaign between VisitScotland and CalMac Ferries, sharing a trip to Arran on their Instagram and YouTube channels which together have over 1.3 million followers.  Watch their video to see what the family got up to in Arran.

  • Read about Ayrshire & Arran in the press

    Between July and September, our consumer PR team promoted Ayrshire & Arran to audiences in the UK, Europe and North America:

    • In the UK media, Si! Spa at The Gailes Hotel was included as a luxury offering as we 'Cosy up to Autumn', Arran recevied coverage as part of a Scottish Isles feature and the team provided further information on Ayrshire as part of a Elvis Presley feature in The Telegraph. 
    • In European coverage, Arran featured prominently in a new documentary for Germany's public broadcaster Hessischer Rundfunk exploring Scotland's west coast and another article was publsihed in French publication Femme Actuelle following a press trip in May. 
    • For our North American audience, the PR team supported several press and influencer trips for brands including GoPro, who visited Arran in September, and secured mention of Culzean Castle in a Conde Nast round-up of 25 best castle to visit in Europe.


  • New content on

    Over on our consumer website, new articles have been added featuring some top attractions in the region:


  • New UNESCO marketing campaign

    Scotland’s UNESCO Trail is being promoted with the launch of a dedicated VisitScotland marketing campaign. The campaign, aimed at potential visitors from the UK & Ireland, Germany and France, will encourage them to discover more about the country’s 13 place-based designations included in the trail. Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere is one of the 13 designations included in the Trail.

Trends and developments in the region to look our for 

Our Industry Relationship Manager for the region, Craig Lawless, is the eyes and ears on the ground, working to support the development and growth of tourism businesses. Working across the region, here is some of the trends Craig has witnessed in the region: 

  • Glamping and the use of pods are becoming increasingly popular in the region with new business developments including Jack Alt Stays on the Isles of Cumbrae.
  • The development of motorhome touring in Girvan and other sites in the coastal regions.
  • In East and South Ayrshire at Loch Doon, interest in watersports is growing and as a result, visitor management is in place.

Catch up with the Brodick iCentre

Discover Scotland Familiarisation Trips 

Tourism businesses have been able to host in-person travel trade familiarisation trips for the first time since the pandemic, in Ayrshire.

Tour operators, travel agents and destination management companies from the UK and key North American, European & Asian markers visited Ayrshire, as part of VisitScotland's travel trade event Discover Scotland 2022, known as Discover Scotland: Live Showcases, in addition to the online business-to-business event earlier in the year.

The experiences included Craufurdland Castle and Country Estate, Marine Troon, Robert Burns Birthplace Museum and Culzean Castle & Country Park. Our international guests also had the opportunity to meet with representatives from Ayrshire & Arran Destination Alliance and VisitArran during the visit.

Culzean Castle exterior, Ayrshire

Culzean Castle exterior, Ayrshire

The Trust Golf Women's Scottish Open

The Trust Golf Women's Scottish Open, supported by VisitScotland and one of the biggest events on the Ladies European Tour, was played at Dundonald Links in North Ayrshire for the 4th time this summer.

The broadcast and media coverage helped generate global interest in golf tourism across Ayrshire, which pre-pandemic was worth over £17 million pounds and supports more than 400 jobs.

The tournament was part of an unprecedented run of five elite men's and women's competitions in consecutive weeks through July into August, with the 150th Open, the Genesis Scottish Open, AIG Women's British Open and Senior Open Championship presented by Rolex attracting hundreds of thousands of spectators to Scotland over the summer.

Louise Duncan with Scotland, Home of Golf sign

Louise Duncan, VisitScotland's sponsor invitation who made her professional debut at the tournament, standing with 'Scotland The Home of Golf' sign


Celebrating the best in the business with Scottish Thistle Awards

The regional shortlist for this year’s Scottish Thistle Awards has been announced and it’s a fantastic line up highlighting the strength and depth of Scotland's tourism & events industry.

Accommodation providers, visitor attractions, hotels, restaurants, events and individuals the length and breadth of the country are in the running for a 2022/23 Scottish Thistle Award. Congratulations to all the businesses shortlisted in the Ayrshire & Arran region: 

  • Carraig Mhor B&B, Arran (Best B&B or Guest House Experience)
  • Ormidale Hotel (Best Bar or Pub)
  • Auchrannie Resort (Best Hotel Experience, over 20 rooms)
  • The Laird's Table, Kilmarnock (Best Eatery Experience)
  • Glenapp Castle ( Best Hotel Experience, over 20 rooms)
  • Galloway & Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere (Working together for Tourism)
  • Tasting History Ayrshire Tours (Working together for Tourism)

See the full shortlist at the Thistles website

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