The tourism body seeking to put the name of Argyll and the Isles on the map has received a funding boost from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to further enable the support of local tourism groups.
The Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) takes a lead role in the delivery of a sustainable, private sector led tourism model in order to grow the sector across the region, and has secured £150,000 from HIE.
The funds will enable AITC to deliver a strategic programme of co-ordinated support and training to local tourism organisations and groups.
The news comes just a few weeks after AITC was awarded a similar sum by Argyll and Bute Council towards core costs.
AITC chair Connie Lovel said the vote of confidence from two of the region’s biggest organisations provided a ‘fantastic platform’ from which to move forward.
As with the money received from Argyll and Bute Council, the HIE funding will be spread over three years - giving AITC a guaranteed £100,000 a year even before any other possible funding avenues are taken into account.
Local tourism group, VisitBute, received support from AITC recently which has resulted in the island’s inclusion in a national leaflet campaign.
“We are very pleased that HIE has acknowledged our pivotal role in providing a coherent approach to raising awareness of this region as a top tourist destination,” said Ms Lovel.
“A key aspect of our work involves supporting the various local marketing associations throughout Argyll and the Isles as they seek to increase visitor numbers and the impact of tourism on their own local areas.”
She continued: “The HIE funding will be targeted towards increasing that support. We want to strengthen these local groups as entities in their own right and also ensure they have a louder voice - both individually and collectively - in terms of the future direction of tourism development in this region.
“We are committed to continuing to improve the expertise and resources available to them in order that they can reach their full potential as key players in the drive to increase the value of the tourism sector to the Argyll and the Isles economy.
“Over the last few months we have been working on various plans should the HIE funding be approved. Now that we have that approval, it will be all systems go for AITC in a bid to ensure the funding has the maximum possible return for our tourism sector and the local community which benefits so greatly from it.”
Kerrien Grant from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: “AITC incorporates a strong tourism offering and presents opportunities for all organisations involved to share good practice. This funding will enable the organisation to build on this foundation and provide a collective voice for tourism businesses and social enterprises.
“AITC has achieved a great deal over the past two years, championing the Argyll and the Isles tourism sector and we are delighted that this work will continue.”