Claire Richardson, Operations Manager with Visit Arran was on Bute on Monday, to provide an insight into how our island neighbours have successfully marketed and boosted their tourism, with the hopes that local businessmen and woman on Bute will be able to replicate that success.
Chaired by Bute Community Land Company director, John McGhee, delegates from island organisations, such as Henshelwoods Fine Foods, Bute Community Land Company, Discover Bute Landscape Partnerhship Scheme, Ascog Fernery, Rothesay Pavilion and Mount Stuart Trust, also attended.
Claire spoke about the background of Visit Arran, how it developed, as well as the opportunities the public limited company have taken advantage of.
“Visit Arran started in 2007, and is made up of directors from across a diverse and wide range of experiences – we’ve got farmers, those in the dairy industry, and even someone from a power-boat company. At the moment, we have 75 businesses on board.” Visit Arran has been the umbrella organisation under which the highly successful businesses of Taste of Arran, Arran Aromatics and the Arran Distillery continue to operate.
Paul Duffy, archaeology project manager for DBLPS, asked if there were any downsides to Arran being 70 per cent funded by tourism. Claire replied, “Our season used to always kick-off at Easter, and end around half-term in October. That was it. It’s not like that now. It’s very much spread out throughout the year.
“If you take a look at Arran, say forty years ago, there really wasn’t much going for it. It was described in an article in the 1960s as a terrible, poor island. Look at it now. This, in my mind, is down to the tourism and marketing being done.”
Claire also made mention of the struggles the company has had over its four years in existence: “All of our directors have a great working knowledge of their areas, and we work well as we share that knowledge with one another. I’ve had so many people tell us it would never work, and four years on, we still see letters in the local paper about how we’re not being transparent enough. But I think the proof is in the pudding – you just have to look at the successes we’ve had.
“The blue print is here for you now. You don’t need expensive consultants to organise everything for you – you’ve got the skills and talent here to do it here, and that’s where I see the similarity between Arran and Bute.”