Ur­gent meet­ing as tourism body ‘ne­glects re­gion’

Visit Aberdeen­shire ac­cused of be­ing too fo­cused on city at­trac­tions

The Press and Journal (North-East) - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVID PROC­TOR

TOURISM chiefs have been told their fas­ci­na­tion with the bright lights of Aberdeen is pre­vent­ing large parts of Aberdeen­shire from get­ting the vis­i­tors they de­serve.

Com­mu­nity lead­ers in Banff­shire have been called to an ur­gent sum­mit to thrash out a means of shin­ing a spot­light on the county. The meet­ing is be­ing ar­ranged by Banff coun­cil­lor John Cox and is backed by Des Cheyne, owner of the Spotty Bag Shop and one of the town’s most prom­i­nent busi­ness­men.

Banff­shire boasts at­trac­tions in­clud­ing Duff House, the Mac­duff Marine Aquar­ium, the vil­lage of Pen­nan, pretty har­bours and fine walks.

But Mr Cox said Visit Aberdeen­shire was more fo­cused on “the cruise ships com­ing into Aberdeen and the new ex­hi­bi­tion cen­tre” than show­cas­ing its de­lights to the world. “What we want to do is raise the pro­file of this county and get ev­ery­one be­hind the po­ten­tial of tourism in this area,” he said.

Last night, Visit Aberdeen­shire chief ex­ec­u­tive Chris Foy said it was “com­mit­ted” to pro­mot­ing at­trac­tions to vis­i­tors com­ing to the north-east and stressed Banff­shire is part of that drive.

He said: “We fully recog­nise the fan­tas­tic vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ences on of­fer on the Banff­shire coast, from great ac­com­mo­da­tion, to her­itage at­trac­tions, won­der­ful food and drink and unique events.”

Tourist chiefs have been ac­cused of over­look­ing huge swathes of the north-east as they pri­ori­tise sell­ing the bright lights of Aberdeen to the world.

Visit Aberdeen shire’ s ef­forts to pro­mote the Banff­shire coast and its many at­trac­tions have been dis­missed by dis­mayed busi­ness lead­ers and Banff coun­cil­lor John Cox.

He is call­ing for an ur­gent sum­mit to en­sure his home town and the sur­round­ing area do not be­come an af­ter­thought.

Lead­ing vis­i­tor at­trac­tions, re­tail­ers and pub­li­cans have all been called to a “brain­storm­ing” meet­ing in two weeks’ time.

Mr Cox fears the loss of the ded­i­cated lo­cal tourism body he helped found – the Banff­shire Coast Tourism Part­ner­ship, which was wound up in 2017 and merged into Visit Aberdeen shire–has ham­pered the area’s abil­ity to pro­mote it­self.

Visit Aberdeen shire has said it was fully com­mit­ted to pro­mot­ing and de­vel­op­ing the “fan­tas­tic vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ences on of­fer on the Banff­shire coast”.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion is in­volved in the mar­ket­ing of Banff­shire’s most pres­ti­gious event, the Scot­tish Tra­di­tional Boat Fes­ti­val at Port­soy.

It at­tracts par­tic­i­pants from around the world each year and in ex­cess of 16,000 spec­ta­tors.

Mr Cox, how­ever, wants more done to en­tice vis­i­tors into places like his­toric Duff House, the Mac­duff Marine Aquar­ium, the vil­lage of Pen­nan, into its beau­ti­ful har­bours and on to its stun­ning coastal paths.

He be­lieves the des­ti­na­tion man­age­ment or­gan­i­sa­tion is too fo­cused on projects like cruise ships land­ing at Aberdeen har­bour and the £333 mil­lion The Event Com­plex Aberdeen (Teca).

The coun­cil­lor said: “I’m not be­ing crit­i­cal be­cause, of course, Visit Aberdeen­shire has a job to do.

“But they seem to be more fo­cused on the big­ger things such as the cruise ships com­ing into Aberdeen and the new ex­hi­bi­tion cen­tre, which will draw peo­ple away from this area.

“We want to do the re­verse of that and say ‘if you are com­ing to Aberdeen, we are a short dis­tance away and we have so much to of­fer’.”

Mr Cox hopes to bring the com­mu­nity to­gether at a meet­ing in the next fort­night in the be­lief it will prove use­ful to have ideas from those op­er­at­ing busi­nesses in the area.

“I will be hav­ing a meet­ing of a few folk with some brain­storm­ing and I’m sure we will have some good ideas,” he said.

“What we want to do is raise the pro­file of this and get ev­ery­one be­hind the po­ten­tial of tourism in this area.”

Banff-based en­tre­pre­neur Des Cheyne said he will be go­ing along to the gath­er­ing and be­lieves now is the time to give tourism in Banff­shire a boost.

He said: “It is my in­ten­tion to at­tend be­cause it is im­por­tant to keep the Banff­shire coast on the tourism map.

“It is def­i­nitely the right time to rein­vent our­selves as a place for tourists to come to and it is good of Mr Cox to do some­thing like this.”

Chris Foy, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Visit Aberdeen­shire, be­lieves the or­gan­i­sa­tion is work­ing for the ben­e­fit of Banff­shire.

He said: “We are com­mit­ted to pro­mot­ing and de­vel­op­ing tourism as­sets across the whole of Aberdeen­shire.

“We fully recog­nise the fan­tas­tic vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ences on of­fer on the Banff­shire coast, from great ac­com­mo­da­tion, to her­itage at­trac­tions, won­der­ful food and drink and unique events.

“Our cam­paigns en­cour­age vis­i­tors to go a lit­tle fur­ther to ex­plore the north-east, and our team work very closely with busi­nesses based through­out the re­gion to help con­nect them to vis­i­tors and tour op­er­a­tors.

“We have a ded­i­cated re­source for the north of Aberdeen­shire.”

“Get be­hind the po­ten­tial of tourism in this area”

ON THE WATER: Banff har­bour and its pic­turesque ma­rina is one of the at­trac­tions for vis­i­tors ex­plor­ing the Banff­shire coast re­gion

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