Tourism on the agenda

representatives from public, private and community initiatives met last week to discuss ways to maximise Carrick’s tourism potential.

The meeting, hosted by councillor Alec Oattes on behalf of the Carrick Community Councils’ Forum, drew 35 people including senior figures from all three sectors - public, private and community.

Presentations covered the background to efforts to increase tourism; current initiatives at the Ayrshire, South Ayrshire and Carrick levels; and current and future opportunities to increase the number of visitors to the area.

Speaking at the conference, Cllr Oattes, said: “There is so much potential in the Carrick area and I want to maximise that. Carrick has much to offer tourists to come visit.”

The most recent comprehensive figures for tourism in Ayrshire and Arran are from 2009. They show that around 1.4m people visited South Ayrshire and spent £162m. Total income from tourism across all of Ayrshire and Arran was £342m – around 3 per cent of the tourism income to Scotland as a whole.

Participants in the meeting pointed out that 2009 was the ‘Year of the Homecoming’, which had a strong emphasis on Golf and Burns. As such it is likely to have been a relatively good year for South Ayrshire.

In a typical year, Ayrshire and Arran’s share of the overall income is likely to be less than 3 per cent of the Scottish total: a fact that simply underlined the need to increase efforts to bring more visitors into this area, the group felt.

The all-Ayrshire initiative, the Ayrshire Economic Partnership (AEP), aims to provide a ‘concise strategic direction to the sustainable economic performance of Ayrshire & Arran’.

Speaking on behalf of the Ayrshire Economic Partnership, Tricia Irving explained the benefits to Carrick.

She said: “A business plan will allow the group to move forward and put together the first draft of their strategy.

“By working together as one group it will be for the benefit of Carrick and help create the Carrick you want to see.”

That partnership between the Public and Private sectors has identified Tourism as one of five drivers of growth in the Ayrshire economy.

The others are Renewable Energy, Engineering, Marine & Coastal, and Food & Drink. Their “LOVE Ayrshire” tourism initiative was launched last month. It includes a commitment from the AEP to develop and then deliver a five-year tourism strategy across Ayrshire as one entity.

With the backing of Ailsa Horizons, CCCF are looking to appoint it’s own Tourist Development Officer in Carrick.

Horizons’ Julia Whitaker said: “Plans are in place for a Tourism Development Officer in Carrick.

“We think a dedicated TDO would be a great help for the area and help to really promote a unique area like Carrick.

This and other ideas from the meeting will be taken forward by the Carrick Community Councils’ Forum through its Tourism sub-committee. More information is available from Julia Whitaker at Ailsa horizons on 014765 710628.