Dumfries and Galloway Regional Tourism Strategy for 2016-20

At the meeting of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy, Environment and Infrastructure (EEI) Committee on 15th March, members will be asked to approve the Dumfries and Galloway Regional Tourism Strategy 2016-20 and agree to this Strategy being the recognised approach to supporting the tourism sector in Dumfries and Galloway.

The Strategy recognises that tourism is one of the main drivers for the Dumfries and Galloway economy and is recognised by the Council’s Economic Development Service as a key sector. This is shown in the report to Committee which states that the value of tourism to the region’s economy in 2014 was £302 million. It is estimated that the tourism sector provided the equivalent of over 6,960 full time posts and the region welcomed 2.43 million visitors in that year.

Councillor Colin Smyth, Chair of the EEI Committee said: “The Council recognises that tourism holds possibly the greatest economic potential of all industries in our beautiful but rural region. The vision for the new strategy is that, by 2020, Dumfries and Galloway will be recognised as a destination of choice for quality, value and memorable experiences delivered by skilled and passionate hosts.

The strategy’s mission is to increase the value of tourism from an already healthy £300m, to £330m which will be done by extending the season and increasing the volume of visitors from 2.43m to 2.6m. This should result in an increase of jobs from 6,969 to 7,300 which will of course have a knock-on effect to the rest of the region’s economy.

Through successful delivery of the new strategy this will build Dumfries and Galloway’s reputation as a place to visit, to return to and to recommend to others.”

The Region has a host of attractions to offer to visitors, with our profile being raised already through winning BBC Countryfile Tourism Award for ‘Holiday Destination of the Year for 2015/16; the BBC’s Autumnwatch broadcast at the end of last year from Caerlaverock; and the news in February that the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust had secured a £5.3 million to secure the future of Peter Pan’s birthplace.

In addition to our spectacular Countryside, we also have a host of lively and interesting towns in our region. This includes Dumfries with its special connections to Robert Burns and Robert the Bruce, shops, museums and cafes and the newly re-furbished Dock Park. We also have many ‘Themed’ towns, such as the ‘Artist’s Town’ of Kirkcudbright or the ‘Food Town’, of Castle Douglas, to the book-lovers haven of Wigtown.

Paula McDonald, VisitScotland Regional Director, said: “Tourism is at the heart of economic success in Dumfries and Galloway, supporting thousands of jobs, sustaining communities and generating hundreds of millions of pounds in revenue for the region by showcasing all that it offers as a world-class destination.

VisitScotland supports Dumfries and Galloway’s vision of building on that success and further increasing the value of the visitor economy; we welcome the publication of the Regional Tourism Strategy 2016-20 and look forward to working with our partners and the industry on achieving its objectives.”

It’s not only about our great towns and countryside. Dumfries and Galloway’s major festivals and events are one of the outstanding success stories of the region. The extensive and diverse range of events, are all reporting increasing numbers of visitors and economic impacts for the wider economy. Investment provided by Dumfries and Galloway Council, through the Council led Major Festivals and Events Strategy, is producing superb economic results from a host of high profile events. These funded events are already creating a windfall of around £10million per year for the region. The figures demonstrate a superb return on the Council’s investment of £250,000 per annum.

Since the previous tourism strategy of 2011 – 16 was written there have been significant developments across digital and social media. This provides more choice, but also makes the customer more discerning and demanding in what is already a challenging economic climate. This new strategy is therefore required to address these changes and ensure there is a region wide collaborative and cohesive approach to tourism.

The Regional Tourism Strategy aligns with the Scottish Government Strategies linking to tourism and the economy: the National Tourism Strategy, Scotland 2020, the Scottish Government Economic Strategy, Regional Economic Strategy, Local Development Plan and the Scottish Enterprise Business Plan 2015-2018.

In these unprecedented times of austerity, Public Sector resources are restricted. This has led to the need for a new approach, with local groups, the business community and the private sector taking the lead in setting the local agenda. Local businesses are taking the lead in determining the future of the sector as part of the approach to developing resilient communities, whilst aligning with the national tourism framework.

Consultation and the development of the strategy included a ‘business barometer’ survey, with over 100 responses, 50 attendees at workshops and an online survey sent out to 600 local tourism businesses, groups and associated organisations, as well as a number of stakeholders, including Scottish Tourism alliance, Visit South West Scotland, Luxury Galloway, Wigtownshire and Dumfries and Galloway Chambers of Commerce, Scottish Enterprise and VisitScotland.

A separate action plan to accompany the strategy will be developed in partnership with all consultees and will identify a lead organisation for delivering objectives.

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