A drive to attract superyachts to the west coast of Scotland has been launched to help businesses share in its £3.7 billion marine tourism industry.
Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) researchers are involved in Cool Route, a European-funded programme to develop a new yacht-cruising route which would be promoted internationally.
The drive hopes to market the shoreline as one of the most attractive cruising destinations in the world.
Part of the strategy includes attracting superyachts to the area to help remote, local businesses share in the nation’s £3.7 billion marine tourism industry.
An invitational brochure targeting superyachts has been produced and small businesses are being urged to register on an online platform which links local enterprises to ports and provides information on attractions.
GCU’s Moffat Centre is providing logistical, business and marketing support to help increase the number of vessels and bring wealthy tourists ashore.
Giancarlo Fedeli, principal investigator for the Cool Route at Glasgow Caledonian University, said: “One specific part of the project is to target superyachts and a lot of marketing activity will aim at this particular segment. There’s higher spending there.
“We are aiming at small and medium enterprises and trying to get them involved in the booking website, so visitors will consider using their services.
“It is crucial to communicate to all marine operators and beyond, the benefits the Cool Route can bring in terms of visibility and market reach.”
A superyacht owned by US billionaire Richard DeVos was spotted moored in Greenock this summer, while the Eclipse, a 163.5 metre vessel owned by Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich, was seen in Inverclyde and Rothesay in the summer of 2015.
The Cool Route stretches around southern and western Ireland, across Northern Ireland and up the coast of western Scotland, to the Faroe Islands and Norway and is rated one of the most attractive sailing routes globally.
The booking platform offers self-registration for local businesses and more than 300 stopovers have been identified across the route.
Researchers from GCU have joined forces with British Marine Scotland and held workshops with marine operators in Oban and an event for local businesses at Largs Yacht Haven.
The Scottish leg of the Cool Route is split into four sections: Argyll and the Islands, the Firth of Clyde, Skye and the North West, and Orkney and Shetland.
Led by Cork Institute of Technology, the £1.1 million Cool Route project has been funded by the Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme.
The project also involves Donegal County Council, Royal Cork Yacht Club, Derry City Council, Torshavn Port Authority, Blue Seas Marinas and Western Norway Research Institute.
Mr Fedeli added: “It is crucial to communicate to all marine operators and beyond, the benefits the Cool Route can bring in terms of visibility and market reach.”