Here we are, on 13th March, in the Marble Hall of the magnificent Mount Stuart, outside Rothesay on the Isle of Bute.
A full house has just had registration and breakfast at the Mout Stuart Visitor Centre and transferred over to the house for the start of the event.
The theme of the summit this year is: ‘turning our assets into experiences’.
Mike Story, CEO of Argyll and the Isle Tourism, is about to begin his welcome address.
With his hyperactive and professional team and with the various partners fully engaged in this determined drive to move tourism in Argyll to the commanding position in the industry that its natural resources and imaginative business leaders are more than capable of sustaining, Mike Story will have plenty of fuel in the tank today.
‘A very warm welcome to the magnificent Mount Stuart House on the lovely Isle of Bute for this, our third Argyll and the Isles Tourism Summit.
‘At our first tourism summit at the Corran Halls in Oban, we agreed to the concept of working together and asked industry to identify and agree the key actions for the Strategic Tourism Partnership.
‘Last year we met at the stunning Portavadie Marina in Cowal and introduced an agreed and funded programme of works going forwards.
‘Today we meet in one of the world’s great houses to share with you our achievements over the last year and demonstrate how Argyll and the Isles now supports and influences national strategy, has massively increased our areas’ profile which now allows our marketing groups and their members to punch well above their weight on the national stage.
‘We have brought together a stellar line up of speakers. Not only are they industry experts but they are national leaders in their fields. Our keynote speakers in the Marble Hall will demonstrate how Argyll and the Isles fit in to national strategy, the importance of considering the full customer journey and how working together in partnership strengthens our competitiveness.
‘Our symposium speakers this afternoon represent four sectors where Argyll and the Isles have world leading natural resources in Food and Drink, Wildlife, Heritage and Marine Tourism. Their key message will be turning these resources into compelling and authentic experiences through working together.
‘As befits one of the great food regions of Scotland, we invite you to join us in the Mount Stuart Visitor Centre for a locally sourced lunch, prepared by Mount Stuart’s Head Chef and brought to you courtesy of the good folks at VisitsSotland.
‘During our networking lunch you can chose to take a guided tour of Mount Stuart, enjoy a first look at our new website, meet our sponsors, and examine the work of Argyll and the Isles and Tourism.
‘I would like to take this opportunity to thank our funders and sponsors: Visit Scotland, Argyll and Bute Council, Argyll and the Islands LEADER, HIE, Caledonian MacBrayne, Kintyre Express, Mount Stuart House, Portavadie Marina, Samteq, The Scottish Tourism Alliance and West Coast Motors.
‘Without their support and partnership working this event quite simply would not have been possible.
‘The Winning Years continue in this the year of Natural Scotland with Argyll and the Isles perfectly positioned with a wealth of natural resources second to none, and as we prepare ourselves for 2014, the year that Scotland welcomes the world, where could anyone find a warmer welcome than here in the birthplace of our nation.’
We’ll try to keep you updated as the day goes on and as best we can – and we’ll have a roundup of the event this evening.