Tourism alliance outlines strategy for Galloway

Newton Stewart Initiative executive committee met at Creebridge House Hotel Newton Stewart on the 8th of August with 15 of the 16 committee members attending.

Susan McKie, chairperson welcomed everyone to the meeting and welcomed along Keith Muir, Forest Enterprise Area Tourism Manager who was attending on behalf of the Galloway Tourism Alliance along with NSI committee members Peter Nizette, International Destination Development Executive and David Inglis, Newton Stewart Initiatives representative on the GTA.

Peter Nizette then ran through the GTA powerpoint presentation outlining the aims of the GTA and how it could impact on the local economy, why it was felt that there was a need for the group and stressed that it was not all about hotels, bed and breakfasts and caravan and camping sites but that everyone was involved to some degree in the tourism economy.

He also explained to NSI that his job was to develop economic strategies based round tourism for various countries such as Jordan, Zimbabwe and Uganda and that he was now living in Newton Stewart and was keen to develop the GTA to help fulfil the Galloway Hills and Coast as a tourism destination identity in an effort to boost the local economy.

Following a short question and answer session Chairperson Susan McKie thanked Peter and Keith and offered the full support of Newton Stewart Initiative to get the Galloway Tourism Alliance established as soon as possible.

Treasurer reported that although various funding streams were in place to support on going projects it was important that the committee were aware of deadlines looming and that securing the final parts of the funding packages were vital to the ongoing work of the organisation.

It was agreed that local funding sources should be sought, especially for the match funding to secure the second years salary for the project coordinator who is working on a number of local projects which were beneficial to the town in general.

Nathon Jones, NSI Project Coordinator reported that almost 200 people responded to the Community Consultation on the provision of a new Community Centre for the town.This process was now nearing completion and the results will be collated and discussed at a future executive committee meeting at which point a development plan would be drawn up to push the project forward.

It was agreed that any new Community Facility should have provision for room rental as there is a growing need for this from the local authority, the health board and various voluntary groups. The current Newton Stewart Centre situated opposite the Library, which is relatively small, is used regularly by groups as well as housing the NSI town office.

Over 40 riders attended the recent BMX trial session held at the Newton Stewart Centre. It is hoped that a new BMX club would be set up as the construction of the Douglas Park BMX track gets underway.

The track will be built to regional competition level and it will be the only one of its kind in Dumfries and Galloway. This will in turn attract people to the town for practice sessions and competition days.

NSI are waiting on the results of recent funding applications submitted by Funding Applications Manager David Mitchinson.

The executive committee were informed that an approach had been made from the organisation who run the Wigtown Market with a view to holding a similar market in the McMillan Hall on a Thursday. Nathon Jones will look into this and report back to NSI once he had spoken to the Wigtown Market people and had some idea of cost and stall numbers.

A general discussion took place regarding on going funding and sustainability of NSI. It was agreed that the group should push forward with plans to secure shop premises in the town which would be set up to benefit the community and create a steady income stream to help finance the work of the organisation.

An approach has been made to the local authority with regards two of their buildings which it was hoped might be acquired at minimal cost.

The fundraising committee are currently working on the Winter Fayre which will be held on Saturday the 19th of November. 40 stalls have already booked for this event and NSI are now looking at extending it to include some outdoor stalls in the town square. We are pleased to announce that Santa has agreed to attend the event before he sets off on his 2016 world tour.

Members of the fund raising committee have been involved in a supporting roll at a number of local events recently such as the Newton Stewart Rotary Clubs Golf AmAm in aid of Insulin Pump Therapy for under eighteens as well as the Wheelie Good Bike Show and Newton Stewart Round Table Santa Dash.

Newton Stewart Initiative is a voluntary organisation which works for the benefit of everyone in the Cree Valley Area. If you feel you can offer support or help with running the Newton Stewart Centre, or if you think you can help with the ongoing projects such as voluntary work in any town shop in the future we would be glad to hear from you.

The Centre office is open Monday to Friday 10am till 2pm, just drop in and have a word with Nathon who will take your details.