Marine Tourism in Scotland

Stuart McMillan MSP

The world of Marine Tourism in Scotland has progressed remarkably in the last few years and I am delighted that the Cross Party Group on Recreational Boating and Marine Tourism (CPG) has been at the forefront of this agenda.

The Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network are members of the CPG and they play an important part in our work.

In March this year, the first ever Scottish Marine Tourism Strategy – Awakening the Giant was published. This strategy was conceived in the symposium the CPG held in Holyrood in March 2013. Two key action points from that symposium were the strategy and a data collection tool to understand better the marine tourism sector.

Both action points have been delivered.

The strategy led to the publication of the action plan in November which was published at the second Marine Tourism symposium in Holyrood.

Both the strategy and the Action Plan were produced by the industry leaders who will have a better understanding of what is required and what can be achieved. The Scottish Government have been supportive of both the strategy and the Action Plan and the Tourism Minister, Fergus Ewing MSP, was in attendance and spoke positively at both events.

The vision of the Strategy is to ensure Scotland is “A marine tourism destination of first choice for high quality, value for money and memorable customer experience delivered by skilled and passionate people.” The mission of the strategy is to increase overall economic value of the marine tourism sector from £360m to over £450m by 2020.

Whether the activities involved are above, below or beside the water, it’s clear that every part of water based activities can play a proactive and positive role in working towards delivering the strategy.

The following are some of the actions that have started and which will be built upon:

  • A greater emphasis in promoting events and festivals. Whether, they are regional, national or international, they have an important role in providing authentic experiences.
  • Improving the initial contact with the Scottish offer through planning and booking improvements. Whether it’s improving the digital connectivity, liaising with other partners or equipping businesses to cater for marine tourists, the work has started to improve the offer.
  • Finally, targeting where best to invest to develop the high quality sustainable infrastructure. Developing the physical infrastructure for cross multi use offerings as well as investing in the people resource via improved skills and leadership training are critical in taking the strategy forward.

The Action Plan is already being worked on by partners and this will continue in the weeks, months and years ahead. The SSACN have a role to play. Members of the SSACN will be well aware of the opportunities and threats posed by facilities in the country. I encourage you all to make your voice heard and play your part as your full participation will not only help conservation, but will also encourage others to take advantage of Scotland’s marine tourism opportunity. We have a huge amount to offer and a vast array of marine tourism activities. It’s our country and the more we promote the water based activities, the more people will take note and get involved.

2015 has been a positive year and step forward and I’m sure 2016 can be even better.

Check out the Scottish Marine Tourism Strategy and Action Plan.

Stuart is the SNP MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde his interests include football, music (he plays the bagpipes), travel and reading.

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