Chamber appoints new manager to champion Lochaber outdoors
LOCHABER Chamber of Commerce has appointed a new destination manager for the Outdoor Capital of the UK.
Chris O’Brien, an experienced digital marketing and public relations professional, took on the role for the tourism destination brand for Fort William and Lochaber at the start of June.
Under the Outdoor Capital of the UK (OCUK) brand, the Chamber of Commerce publicise, sponsor and promote Fort William and Lochaber as the best place in the UK for everyone to experience the outdoors, with a view to developing local jobs.
Despite only being in his late 30s, Mr O’Brien has an enviable marketing pedigree with a career working with the English Premier League, Virgin, Nestlé and a variety of musicians and comedians.
A passionate climber and a regular visitor to the Highlands for many years, Mr O’Brien said it was a privilege to be selected for the job in May.
He said: ‘I am really optimistic because it’s such a fantastic destination. Nowhere else would you find such a variety of activities.
‘I am looking forward to engaging with people in Lochaber. I will also be making a point of meeting as many of the Lochaber business community as possible in the coming weeks in order to build a collaborative and community-led vision for Lochaber going forward.’
Mr O’Brien said that his main priorities over the next weeks and months are a VisitScotland Growth Fund application, a digital content marketing campaign, Lochaber Ideas Week 2016 and a new, more visitor-friendly and user-gener- ated content focused website. He told The Oban Times: ‘We are working on a new website, a truly revolutionary project, that will be based on user-generated content, and be interactive for users.
‘ Visitors will be able to see memories they have created on the website, but Lochaber residents will also be able to put up content to attract people to the area.
‘ We want to celebrate the people who live and work here already, as they are the real heroes.
‘ We are really encouraging people to get involved with us, such as volunteer groups in the area.’
Lochaber will again be applying for the VisitScotland Growth Fund, which was deemed a huge success for the area in 2015, and is hoping to secure between £ 80,000 and £100,000.
Mr O’Brien said that the chamber signed off on the application yesterday ( Wednesday July 6) saying: ‘ We should find out of if we have been successful in October.’
The Growth Fund supports marketing projects which focus on growth in the tourism sector.
‘It is a very ambitious project we are submitting that will raise the profile of Lochaber in a unique video-led way.
‘The campaign concept we have planned will encompass much more of Lochaber and really showcase the local talent and spirit that makes us. We are not just about promoting the Outdoor Capital of the UK brand to the UK and overseas tourists, we are very much about celebrating the amazing community we live in.
‘All will become clear very soon and we will make the details available as soon as possible.’
Mr O’Brien envisions Lochaber having a very bright future, by everyone in the area working together to make the OCUK brand the best it can be.
He continued: ‘Our one real passion is to get as many local businesses and residents involved as much as possible.
‘We have an open-door policy, and we want to hear from people.
‘I want to gather the opinions of all and get as much input as possible on the future of the Outdoor Capital of the UK and what the brand means to the community within the region.
‘In partnership with all in Lochaber, we’ll be able to map out a true vision for the future of the area.’