About

Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative Ltd (AITC) is the strategic Destination Management Organisation for Argyll & The Isles on the West Coast of Scotland.

AITC was formed in 2012 as a cooperative with its membership being the local marketing and sectoral groups – representing in the region of 1200 business interests. AITC is supported by VisitScotland, Argyll and Bute Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland, Calmac Ferries, Scotrail, Loganair, Enterprise rent-a-car and West Coast Motors. We work at a local and national level promoting Argyll & the Isles  as a must visit destination.

Argyll & the Isles covers the second largest geographical area in Scotland, which as well as a vast mainland area includes 23 inhabited islands, each with their own identity and culture. By working together we have created a strong umbrella brand which provides a single regional identity.

Our destination organisations cover: Mull and Iona; Tiree and Coll; Islay, Jura and Colonsay; Oban and Lorn; Kintyre and Gigha; Inveraray, Kilmartin and Knapdale; Bute; Cowal and Loch Lomond and the Clyde Sea Lochs.

AITC is influencing policy decisions affecting the wider area and is recognised as a strategic delivery partner by the Argyll & The Isles Strategic Tourism Partnership. The Cooperative has pulled together partnership funding for core costs, capacity building and marketing exceeding £1million between 2011 and 2018. An independent assessment was undertaken late in 2016 to review AITC and tourism growth over the last five years. This assessment reviewed Government statistics and concluded that Argyll & the Isles had comprehensively out performed Scotland as whole in terms of tourism growth in recent years.

The Board

As at October 2018, the AITC board currently consists of twelve directors:


ELECTED 

Neil MacKay – Oban & Lorn Tourism Alliance
Gavin Dick – Cowal Marketing Group
Victoria Winters – Heart of Argyll Tourism Alliance
Niall Macalister Hall – Explore Kintyre and Gigha
Fiona McPhail – Kyles Marketing Group
Donna Chisholm – Visit Bute

CO-OPTED

Cathy Craig – Entrepreneurial Scotland
Iain Jurgensen – Portavadie, Loch Fyne
Andy Roger – Cameron House, Loch Lomond
Daniel MacIntyre – Little Bay Trading
Virginia Sumsion – Food from Argyll
Calum Ross – Loch Melfort Hotel

Iain Jurgensen is the AITC Chairperson and Daniel MacIntyre is the Vice Chairperson. 

Honorary Chairperson
The Duchess of Argyll

Carron Tobin provides freelance development management support, contact admin@exploreargyll.co.uk

Daniel MacIntyre provides digital community management support, contact media@exploreargyll.co.uk

Eve MacFarlane web editor support, contact info@exploreargyll.co.uk  

Jean Ainsley of Ainsley Smith and Co, 21 Argyll Square, Oban, PA34 4AT, provides accountancy services. 

AITC has a team of freelance development agents who have been working with our members to grow capacity at a local level. For contact information for the individual local agents please email admin@exploreargyll.co.uk.

Funding

AITC has secured funding for three phases of development. The Stronger Together campaign was rolled out from 2012-2014 developing the umbrella brand and communication networks for the industry.  This was funded by Argyll & Bute Council, HIE, VisitScotland Growth Fund and Leader.  The second phase of activity between 2014 and 2017 focused on industry capacity building with a network of local development agents appointed.

AITC is now progressing a further three year programme for 2017-2020 which is focused on industry leadership, collaboration and product development.

AITC has received funding support from many agencies and partners with Argyll & Bute Council and HIE providing the core funding which has then been supplemented by support from VisitScotland Growth Fund, Calmac Ferries, Scottish Natural Heritage and AITC Membership Subscriptions. Additional funding is also sourced on a project by project basis from Forestry Commission, Scottish Canals, Sustrans and other partners. 

In addition to supporting the industry through our development team this funding allows AITC to undertake strategic marketing with partners and to attend VisitScotland EXPO and other travel trade events, to develop our digital presence and to have a catalyst budget to develop specific product development projects and campaigns. We also host an annual tourism summit in the region where we report on our progress and explore next steps with the industry. 
 

Wild About Argyll 2017 
During 2017 AITC rolled  out the Wild About Argyll campaign with funding support from A&BC and VS Growth Fund. This year long campaign was primarily digital and aimed at raising awareness of Argyll & The Isles as Scotland’s Adventure Coast. The campaign is aimed at a much younger, more active market than we traditionally enjoy and is the first genuinely pan Argyll campaign rolled out at any scale. The campaign was video led and featured a 12 day epic adventure across the region with Mark Beaumont - who smashed the world record for circumnavigating the globe on a bike in less than 80 Days in 2017.

Heart & Soul 2018
AITC has entered a formal partnership with Glasgow Life and key transport partners – Scotrail, Calmac Ferries, Loganair, West Coast Motors and Enterprise rent-a-car – and secured a VisitScotland Growth Fund grant to promote Glasgow and Argyll as the Heart & Soul of Scotland.  This video led digital campaign presents the area as one amazing destination for short breaks with micro adventures in the city and on the coast.

Tourism Argyll & The Isles 2020 
AITC, working with partners devised the Argyll & The Isles response to the national tourism strategy– Tourism Argyll & The Isles 2020. This forms the basis to the work of the Argyll & The isles Strategic Tourism Partnership Group which consists of A&BC, HIE, VS, Calmac, Scotrail, SNH, FCS, Business Gateway and AITC. For the period 2017-2020 AITC has prioritised adventure tourism, food and drink tourism and events and festivals for product development.  AITC is currently supporting the roll out of Digital Tourism Scotland across the area and including Arran with over 470 people undertaking training workshops and 30 businesses receiving 1-2-1 mentoring. With Customer Care also being a priority, in 2016 AITC agreed to pursue World Host accreditation for local businesses  in partnership with Business Gateway. By June 2018 over 520 individuals had been accredited in The Principles of Customer Care.