Carrick has now been given its own unique branding in an attempt to reverse declining visitor numbers.
Representatives from the Carrick, South Ayrshire community and tourism industry last weekend gathered at the Turnberry Resort to mark the completion of the successful Carrick Tourism Development Project (CTDP) which launched in 2012 to re-package and promote the breadth of tourism products in the area.
The unique, community-led Project consulted over 400 members of the local community and tourism industry to create a new brand, website and other marketing materials for Carrick, targeted towards reversing declining visitor numbers.
Visitors are now encouraged to “Experience more of Scotland” through Carrick’s promotional strap line, a typographic logo and website (www.carrickayrshire.com).
Carrick spans the areas between Dunure and Ballantrae in South Ayrshire. Commonly referred to as “undiscovered” and “unspoilt” by locals, the community is calling to tourists nationally and worldwide to experience the exciting tourism offering.
Despite wide recognition of some of Carrick’s popular tourist destinations including Culzean Castle and Turnberry. Or the fact that the ‘Earl of Carrick’, a title now held by Prince Charles, once belonged to the famous Scottish King Robert the Bruce, who was born in the area, project market research conducted in early 2012 determined that one third of Scots surveyed did not know where Carrick was when looking at a map of Scotland.
This is the first time that Carrick has been given its own signature brand, as well as a place for all information on the area to be stored and easily accessed by visitors and tourists – the website includes details on the wide range of gift shops, B&Bs, restaurants, visitor attractions, outdoor activities and more available.
Marketing literature including a quarterly newsletter and “Welcome to Carrick” booklet, have been created and are now distributed throughout the area and beyond. A key product development aspect of the project has also been the establishment of the new Carrick Community Heritage Trail.
Local people across Carrick identified key heritage points throughout their communities panning the whole area, and a wealth of themes including: artistic connections, historical figures, nature, pre-historic life, industry, myth and legend, the trail has created physical points of interest in each of the communities for tourists to visit.
From origins of the legend of cave-dwelling cannibal ‘Sawney Bean’ to endangered red squirrels to links with Charles Rennie Mackintosh, an eclectic mix of information panels in different designs are now being installed to tell the local stories and represent the historic connections between the towns of Carrick.
Over and above the physical product that can be viewed in each community, a section of the Carrick, Ayrshire website is dedicated to the trail, while a physical leaflet has also been produced and will be distributed throughout Ayrshire and the Clyde Valley.
Geocaching specialists from Mega Event 2014 have also partnered with the Project to geocache the trail helping to promote Carrick to a whole new global market.
The Project, part-funded by the Scottish Government and the European Community Ayrshire LEADER 2007-2013 Programme, attracted additional finding from Carrick Futures, Hadyard Hill, South Ayrshire Waste and Environment Trust, South Ayrshire Community Planning, Scottish Power Renewables and Scottish and Southern Energy. In total, the Project has contributed nearly £200,000 towards boosting tourism in Carrick.
Peter Mason, Chair of Carrick Community Councils’ Forum (CCCF) which established the CTDP said: “This must be one of Scotland’s most ambitious tourism projects ever managed by a community group. From the new brand and website, to a social media campaign and heritage trail, the Project has created innovative ways of attracting tourists to an area of Scotland arguably forgotten, but a most beautiful part of our country with scenery so stunning that it takes your breath away.
“We are determined to build on the success of the Carrick Tourism Development Project so that Carrick is recognised more and more as a great place to visit. One very simple thing that we intend to do is to install road signs at each of the entry points to the area so that visitors will know that they are in Carrick and will be more likely to return and to encourage friends and family to visit the area.
“But we also have proposals for some more ambitious projects including one that will capitalise on the fact that King Robert the Bruce was born here. Another new initiative that we will implement this year is a ‘reverse genealogy’ project that will focus on the descendants of the people buried here and work out where those descendants are in the world. The initiative will then connect with Scotland’s diaspora, to invite those descendants to come home, and then to give them a feeling of belonging to something older and deeper than their own immediate family and town.
“All in all, the Forum is committed to making sure that tourism in Carrick continues to grow.”
Chris Savage, Chair of the European Community Ayrshire LEADER 2007-2013 Programme said: “The Carrick Tourism Development Project has left a lasting impact on the area for future generations, enhancing the local sense of place and for the first time connecting and promoting its heritage to a wider audience. The community itself feel the project has been a success and a good model for similar rural tourism projects elsewhere.
With new product in the ground and a wealth of new marketing materials, Carrick is now, more than ever, on the map of Scotland.”
Please visit www.carrickayrshire.com for more information.