More than just medals to be won, says Malcolm Roughead
AS SOON as anyone sets foot in Glasgow the excitement is palpable, the city is dressed to impress, the atmosphere is electric and the people somehow seem extra friendly – if that’s possible.
It’s hard to believe that after seven years of planning and organising, we are now so close to the start of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Up to 1.5 million people are expected to visit the city for ten spectacular days of sport and a summer of culture. It is a fantastic chance to promote Glasgow on the international stage.
In addition to celebrating the achievements of Team Scotland, it is also worth applauding the many, many organisations, businesses and individuals who have worked hard to ensure that the Commonwealth Games leaves a lasting legacy long after the closing ceremony.
VisitScotland is among those playing its part in ensuring that this happens within the Scottish tourism industry. The major events of this year will help show that Scotland is capable of holding world-class events, with the infrastructure, skills and standards to support this. This will hopefully lead to more visitors, which in turn leads to more jobs and boosts the economy. For every £50,000 spent by visitors, one new job is created, so it’s vital we continue to be viewed as a place that people want to visit and do business in.
2014 offers a unique opportunity for tourism, the eyes of the world are on us all not just to see how we deliver the biggest sporting event of Glasgow’s history but also how we handle the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in September and the packed Homecoming Scotland 2014 programme – which now boasts almost 900 events across the entire year.
Our legacy for Scotland will focus on making the country even more accessible, more sustainable and even more welcoming.
With partners such as Glasgow City Council, Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, Glasgow Life, Glasgow 2014, Scottish Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland and the Scottish Government, we’ve been developing innovative training programmes and advice workshops to help the industry make the best first impression possible. This includes leading on three official Glasgow 2014 legacy projects, the Greener Glasgow Tourism Project, the Accessible Glasgow Tourism Project and Glasgow Welcomes.
As its name suggests, Greener Glasgow focusses on making Glasgow and Scotland a sustainable tourism destination by promoting environmental practices to all tourism businesses. It aims to help businesses increase their profits by improving their environmental practices.
The next project focusses on ensuring everyone should have the chance to enjoy all that Scotland has to offer by improving access for those with physical, sensory or learning disabilities, the elderly and families with small children. Ahead of the Games, the Accessible Glasgow Tourism Project has been working with a number of businesses to produce access statements to help those with access needs plan their trip. An access statement offers visitors a clear description through words and pictures of the facilities and services they can expect during their trip. It is all about giving people a choice. The accessible market is valued at around £370 million a year and growing so there is huge potential here to do as much as possible to encourage visitors with access needs to come to Scotland.
VisitScotland wants to ensure every visitor to Scotland this year receives a welcome to remember and believes every man, woman and child can play a part in that, especially as 9 out of 10 people rate Scotland as having a warm welcome. Glasgow Welcomes has been designed to ensure a lasting legacy of excellent customer service standards. More than 10,000 tourism and hospitality staff from accommodation providers through to retail staff, visitor attractions and transport workers have undergone, or are due to undergo, specially-tailored training. This will allow them to offer visitors up-to-date advice on what there is to see and do in the city, and facts and figures on Games events, venues and dates.
With the wait almost over, final preparations are underway and the country is ready to rally behind Team Scotland as they go for gold. I am proud of all the athletes and hope their hard work and commitment is reflected on the podium. But I’m also immensely proud of our industry and their commitment to making sure Glasgow and Scotland shines like never before. I look forward to seeing these efforts rewarded and the legacy of the Games living on for many years after the curtain closes on the XX Commonwealth Games.
• Malcolm Roughead is chief executive of VisitScotland www.visitscotland.com