Tourism conference sets out importance of industry

The future of tourism in Dumfries and Galloway and importance to the local economy of continued investment in the industry was the focus of this year’s regional tourism conference.

The event, held at Easterbrook Hall on Thursday, was organised by VisitScotland in partnership with Dumfries and Galloway Council and Destination Dumfries and Galloway. Around 150 representatives of the tourism industry – which is worth £290 million to the economy of the region a year - attended the conference.

Stephen Leckie, Chair of the Tourism Leadership Group and of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, presented a summary of the National Tourism Strategy for Scotland and spoke on the future growth of tourism up to 2020. Riddell Graham, Partnerships Director of VisitScotland, provided delegates with an outline of the Tourism Development Plan for Scotland, a strategic plan which is contributed to by all local authorities.

Both Mr Leckie and Mr Graham highlighted the huge significance for tourism in Scotland of 2014 – the year in which the country welcomes the world to major events including the Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup and the year-long Homecoming Scotland 2014 programme – and the current and future opportunities this offers the local tourism industry.

Another key speaker at the conference was Professor David Thomson, owner of the new Annandale Distillery. Professor Thomson spoke on the multi-million pound investment project to breathe life back into the old distillery after 90 years meaning that fine Single Malt Scotch Whisky will once again be produced in the region. As the first distillery across the Border from England, it aims to support the region’s ambitions to increase visitor numbers through 2014 and beyond.

Paula McDonald, Regional Director for VisitScotland, said:

“The excellent attendance at this year’s regional industry conference demonstrates the commitment of local businesses to the continued development of tourism in Dumfries and Galloway.

“We are working together to ensure that we build on the success of the industry in Dumfries and Galloway and capitalise on the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities presented by this hugely important year for tourism when the high-profile events of 2014 focus the world’s attention on Scotland and bring visitors to all parts of the country.”

Councillor Brian Collins, Depute Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council said: “Dumfries and Galloway Council recognises that tourism is a key sector in our region, employing over 5,300 people and providing an overall value to the economy of nearly £300 million.

“Our Council is committed to supporting tourism through supporting its businesses and assisting Dumfries and Galloway in becoming recognised as a world-class destination in which visitors receive great service and are provided with an experience that will meet and exceed their expectations.”