The Marine Tourism Symposium saw more than 120 members of the industry gather at the Scottish Parliament to hear how the Marine Tourism Strategy Action Plan could increase the value of the industry from £360m to £450m by 2020.
It is also aiming to increase the value of sailing tourism from £101m to £145m in the next five years.
A strategic framework for Scotland’s marine tourism industry – entitled Awakening the Giant – was launched earlier this year and today will see the announcement of the practical steps needed to make the vision a reality.
The five-year strategy, which was developed by the marine tourism industry with the financial support of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, outlines the potential and opportunity to grow Scotland’s revenue by enhancing the world-class marine tourism destination by focusing on three key themes: “Providing Authentic Experiences”, “Improving the Customer Journey” and “Building our Capabilities”.
The steps included in the action plan include:
• Building on and co-ordinating international, national and regional events, including maximising the links and profile of the World Canal Conference 2016 in Inverness.
• Identifying infrastructure gaps in coastal facilities and cruising routes and developing identified opportunities to create an enlarged contribution from the marine sector into the Scottish Tourism Economy.
• Developing a co-ordinated approach to skills development across the sector. Work is under way with British Marine Scotland, Skills Development Scotland and other educational establishments to assess requirements for training and relevant delivery of training to the sectors.
• Development of Sail Scotland brand to increase awareness of world-class product via content and targeted marketing throughout marine tourism industry activity.
• Collaborative marketing through Sail Scotland’s new toolkit and via VisitScotland and the marine tourism industry’s content channels.
• Working with Cool Route – a European-sponsored project seeking to connect and generate increased cruising participation between; Scotland, Norway, Faroes, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland – to develop themed routes around Scottish shores.
Fergus Ewing, Scotland’s Tourism Minister, said: “The Marine Tourism Action Plan shows how the sector is already collaborating to help bring additional business, jobs and prosperity to communities around the entire coastline of Scotland and along our inland waterways.
“This helps showcase Scotland as a world-class destination and encourages increased participation in sports and recreational activities. The action plan from the Marine Tourism Development Group shows how all sectors in Scotland - public, private and third sector - need to play a role in realising the full potential of our wonderful marine and coastal assets.”
Stuart McMillan, West Scotland MSP and Convener of the Cross-Party Group on Recreational Boating and Marine Tourism, said: “The Cross-Party Group on Recreational Boating and Marine Tourism has led the way on highlighting Scotland’s Marine Tourism opportunity and I’m delighted to be chairing this second symposium. Our first event two years ago set three challenging targets: The creation of the first marine tourism strategy, the creation of a data collection tool and a second symposium to ensure progress is being made.
“All three challenges have been met and now Scotland is about to progress the Marine Tourism offering even further.”
Alan Rankin of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, Marine Tourism Project Manager, said: “Marine tourism has enormous potential to grow in the years ahead. We have some of the most stunning locations in the world that are easily accessible to our UK and overseas markets. That, coupled with a broad range of innovative companies, progressive local business communities and an aligned stakeholder-led strategy makes for a really positive future for the sector. The planned growth will come from businesses providing brilliant customer experiences as part of a joined-up partnership approach across the industry.”
The Scottish Marine Tourism Development Group comprises: British Marine Scotland; The Crown Estate; The Firth of Clyde Forum; Highlands and Islands Enterprise; The Royal Yachting Association Scotland; Sail Scotland; Scottish Canals; Scottish Development International; Scottish Enterprise; the Scottish Tourism Alliance; and VisitScotland.
Earlier this year, Scotland was voted the ‘World’s Best Cruising Ground’ in the prestigious Sailing Today Awards - beating the warm weather destinations of Greece, Turkey, Canaries and St Vincent and the Grenadines.