Outdoor pursuits to help boost economy

THE future of tourism in South Ayrshire could involve niche sports like paddleboarding, rock climbing and adventure swimming if a plan to make the area an outdoor centre comes to fruition.

It is hoped that a programme of events run by the Adventure Centre for Education in the town could be the forerunner of a wider project to make South Ayrshire the top venue in Scotland for adventure sports.

Outdoor and adventure activities are a growing market in tourism with some people travelling thousands of miles to sample conditions across the globe.

“Connecting with Carrick” has run throughout this summer providing an opportunity for residents of South Carrick to experience outdoor activities such as sea kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, hillwalking and navigation, mountain biking and Adventure Swimming, which include coasteering, gorge walking and canyoning.

Project manager Chris Saunders told the Gazette: “This is great for the young people who have come up through the ranks with us, and now there is an opportunity to encourage more local people to get involved with the aim of getting Ayrshire and Dumfries and Galloway recognised as an outdoor centre.

“This is the start of a process, encouraging adults to get involved and moving into the tourism market as well.”

The programme involved niche sports like sea-kayaking and coast steering, where groups swim around the caves and bays of the Ayrshire coast.

“Once you get towards the end of July the sea starts to warm up and its a great time for coast steering,” added Chris.

“This is a growing trend right across the country. It’s been my aim over the last 10 years to create an outdoor culture in this area. These sports are fun, they’re healthy and if you are not into football or rugby they are sports that you can get into. There are open swimming races in the Olympics and mountain biking world championships in Fort William every year.

“The long term aim is to establish in our own building or centre where we can develop. We want to promote a modern Ayrshire. A lot of tourism is based on old-fashioned Ayrshire. Someone came up with the concept of linking modern Ayrshire and activity tourism, I think that’s a great idea. Ayrshire is the gateway to Ireland and Galloway, and just now there are a lot less tourists about. I think we really need to push Ayrshire a bit more.”

‘Connecting with Carrick’ was funded by Carrick Futures and South Ayrshire Waste and Environment Trust. If you would like to take part in any forthcoming opportunities with ACE please contact 07920 406982.