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Article published 08/03/2024

Tourism summit returns for 2024

Innovation, collaboration, regeneration and inspiring future tourism leaders were some of the key themes at the heart of this year's Argyll & the Isles tourism summit.

Taking place at Cove UK's Drymsynie Holiday Village, the summit was hosted by the Argyll & the Isles Strategic Tourism Partnership - Argyll and Isles Tourism Cooperative (AITC), Argyll and Bute Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and VisitScotland.

The event set out to inform and inspire tourism businesses, foster networking and facilitate opportunities for young people to further develop their dream career in tourism.

Argyll's rising tourism stars

At the event, five impressive apprentices were recognised as some of the sector's leading rising stars:

  • Sarah Melfort from the Loch Melfort in Arduaine
  • Lewis MacLeod from Tigh An Truish in Clachan-Seil
  • Connor Nicol from Portavadie 
  • Evie Edington from The Oliver Garden in Oban
  • Amy Girdwood from The Blairmore in Dunnon

Amy presented a video showcasing her work at The Blairmore and the four remaining apprentices joined a Q&A panel to share their experiences in the sector so far and their thoughts on how the industry can address the destination's recruitment and retention challenges.

Through their participation in the summit alongside presentations from Sara Cook, Head of Operations at Get The Gen (a social enterprise that supports businesses on intergenerational working) and Jane Wylie-Roberts, CEO of Stafffinders recruitment agency, business leaders learned about what is required to recruit and retain younger generations.

The four apprentices sharing their insights in the panel session 

"Hospitality and tourism businesses need to engage the full spectrum of their workforce if we're going to weather the storm. We are at a generational changing of the guard. By 2025, Gen Z will make up a third of the world's population and 27% of the workforce."

Sara Cook, Head of Operations at Get the Gen

Exploring tourism trends with the experts

Delegates also had the opportunity to hear about topics including:

  • AI in tourism led by TravelTech for Scotland's Joshua Ryan-Saha
  • Reaping the rewards of collaboration with Scotland’s Tourism Individual of the Year Melanie Allen (Chair of the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere and owner of Nithbank Country Estate, a 5 star luxury tourism business with a sustainable, responsible and local focus)
  • Innovation, through a workshop led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise
  • Engaging with international markets with The Hebridean Baker

Our VisitScotland Head of Research, Susan Dickie and Regional Director David Adam McGilp presented some of the latest key visitor insights and trends.

They shared that despite the current economic challenges, the appetite for Scotland as a destination is still very strong, particularly with visitors from the USA who account for a fifth of overseas trips to Scotland. 

Read more about the latest visitor statistics and insights

L-R: The Hebridean Baker with AITC CEO Cathy Craig and VisitScotland Regional Director, David Adams McGilp

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