The theme of the third Argyll and the Isles Tourism Summit, taking place on Bute next month, will be ‘Turning assets into experiences’.
The organisers of the event - being held at Mount Stuart on March 13, the first time the summit has come to Bute - have unveiled details of the programme for the event, including “extensive networking opportunities” and “a series of calls to action”.
A news release issued on the organisers’ behalf states: “The speakers and workshops will explore what we have to offer which is uniquely Argyll – our 3175 miles of coastline, our 60 castles, our 14 world renowned distilleries and our 32 clan seats – and the opportunities open to us by working closely together - with a strong focus on what we could be doing to ensure we secure local benefits when Scotland welcomes the world in 2014.
“There will be extensive networking opportunities and a series of calls to action for Argyll and the Isles linked to the Year of the Homecoming, the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.
“The new ‘Uniquely Argyll’ website will be launched on the day, and the full ‘Argyll Street’ EXPO display will be set up in ‘the Armoury’ ahead of its appearance at the SECC in April.”
The summit will last from 10am to 4pm, with the main programme taking place in Mount Stuart’s spectacular Marble Hall, with ‘breakout’ sessions in the house’s drawing room, dining room, armoury and crypt.
A lunch featuring regional produce will be served in Mount Stuart’s visitor centre and everyone attending will be treated to a guided tour of the house.
Mike Story, executive director of the summit’s organisers, AITC, said: “Last year’s event at Portavadie made people sit up and take notice and prompted a very strong sense of collaboration.
“In the space of a year our ‘Stronger Together’ message has turned into reality on the ground with a number of exciting initiatives underway and much more to come in 2013.
“I am looking forward to welcoming old friends and new delegates to this stunning venue to discuss how to capitalise on our vast and unique regional assets and forging the partnerships which will ensure the future of world class tourism in Argyll and the Isles.”
The conference programme has something for everyone with inspirational key note speakers in the morning covering the topics of heritage, islands and partnerships.
Based on feedback from Portavadie last year, an extended lunch will include a networking marketplace with stands, displays and opportunities to meet new people, and delegates having a choice of times for a guided house tour.
The afternoon features breakout sessions with delegates able to choose two of four topics – marine tourism, wildlife tourism, ctultural tourism and food and drink.
These sessions will be led by key figures in each sector who are involved in developing the national strategy for tourism.
This year’s conference is taking place as the closing event in Scottish Tourism Week, running from March 5-13, and Stephen Leckie, the chair of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, will address delegates after the breakout sessions and set out a clear call to action for everyone involved in tourism in Argyll and the Isles.
Connie Lovel, the Mount Stuart Trust’s chief executive and a director of AITC, said: “In addition to the long stay market, we have an enormous opportunity to attract the domestic market, and to encourage day trippers to Argyll and the Isles as well as overnight visitors.
“The assets we have as a region provide the visitor with a truly remarkable experience. Now is our time to work together to attract both returning visitors to Scotland and newcomers – if they only have time to visit one region in Scotland, this should be it!
“By working together we have a stronger chance of success and this year’s summit provides an opportunity to learn more about how we can collaborate for the benefit of the future success of the region.”
To book a place and view the full programme and speaker list as it is confirmed, click on the link to the right of this article.