Argyll and the Isles Tourism Cooperative [AITC] is holding its fifth Tourism Summit on Tuesday 15th March 2016 in the new Tower Digital Arts Centre in Sinclair Street in Helensburgh.
The theme for the event is: ‘Collaboration and the day tripper economy’ – which, oddly. seems to ignore the interests of the majority of members of the industry who are the accommodation providers; and the greater interests of the Argyll economy, which will of course benefit more from longer stays.
That said, the fact that one of the speakers – in a programme that seems a miscellany of convenience, with the principal speaker present on video only – is from ferry operator, CalMac, there is an immediate question to be raised with that speaker on a matter hard-wired to the supposed theme of the event.
The company ran a three year pilot period from 2012-2015, which was far from a success, of a limited and seasonal ferry service between Ardrossan in Ayshire and Campbeltown in Kintyre – via, on Saturdays, the Isle of Arran, only on the outward bound passage from Campbeltown.
The timetable and passages on this service offered not one single day return trip to Campbeltown, to allow folk from Ayrshire and its visitors to get the introduction to Campbeltown and Kintyre that might prompt later and longer explorations.
Worse, if anyone wanted to take a quick look at Campbeltown, the timetable meant that this could not be done without two, not even one, overnight stays.
The service also offered not one single day return trip from Campbeltown to Arran.
The only day return it offered was out of Campbeltown for a day’s shopping in Glasgow via train from Ardrossan.
The question to be asked is – why, when, for political not economic reasons, the pilot was made a permanent provision, did CalMac simply repeat the failed timetable, with no day trips to Campbeltown and Kintyre,or between Campbeltown and Arran?
If there is serious value in developing the day tripper offer for Argyll’s major centres of attraction, this ferry service ought, in some return on taxpayer investment, to be properly harnessed to that sector instead of ignoring its needs and rewards.
The main attraction of this rather scrambled-seeming Tourism Summit is the venue.
The Tower Digital Arts Centre in Helensburgh, is an innovative initiative led by one of Argyll’s serious entrepreneurs, Brian Keating, who will open the event.
The programme promises the opportunity to see an exhibit which will have just been installed and which, although its identity is not revealed, may be guessed at from the facts that it is said to be ‘the 50 foot 39 tonnes centrepiece for Scotland’s first Submarine Museum opening weeks later for the 2016 season’.
Full details of the event, with booking arrangements, are online here.