A new voice at the top for Argyll’s Isles

The Argyll & The Isles Tourism Cooperative’s AGM took place on 24 November 2020.  In light of current circumstances the event took place on online.  Attendees received a full update on the team’s activity over the last year which saw significant achievements but attention focused on what lies ahead and the importance of collaborative working to pull this all important industry through a phased programme of recovery.

Iain Jurgensen from Portavadie on Loch Fyne continues for a further year as the Chair and is joined by Emma Clark, multi award winning five star guest house operator from Islay as the new vice chair. Emma is picking up the cause for tourism on Argyll’s 23 inhabited islands with a very strong focus on collaboration to help this amazing  destination succeed in 2021.

Emma said “I am delighted to accept the invitation to sit as Vice Chair of Argyll and the Isle Tourism Cooperative.  Along with my colleagues within AITC I look forward to ensuring that Argyll and the Isles are seen as leading the way as a destination and more importantly used as an example of how successful collaborative work can be to break down any barriers to successfully trading and welcoming visitors by our industry colleagues.  My goal is to ensure this is done by working together with each geographical area within Argyll so no one is left behind and we all get the same amazing opportunities that we are already seeing for 2021 through the work of AITC. I look forward to working with Iain and the team and in turn all our members and future members of Argyll and the Isles Tourism Cooperative to ensure the future is bright for us all. 

Iain welcomed Emma into her new role saying “The AITC board is delighted to welcome Emma Clark to the role of Vice Chair, Emma is the owner and operator of the multi award winning Glenegedale House along with husband Graeme on the Isle of Islay. Emma has been a director on the AITC board, representing Islay and Jura for over two years. Emma brings with her immense enthusiasm and a passion for tourism, along with her unwavering entrepreneurial and innovative approach which will certainly be an asset to AITC in the Vice Chair role. I very much look forward to working closely with Emma and the other members of the Executive Team of AITC which includes, Finance Director Gavin Dick and Calum Ross of Loch Melfort Hotel. 

The board remains committed to rising to the opportunities and challenges ahead as the tourism sector looks to survive and recover from the Pandemic and ensure that Argyll and the Isles continues to be positioned as a destination of choice for visitors.”

Attendees at the online AGM learned that prior to Covid-19 impacting in March 2020 AITC had delivered a significant programme of activity including the Heart & Soul of Scotland campaign in partnership with Glasgow Life and all transport partners and, as lead partner, had launched the West Coast Waters campaign last Autumn. There had been significant product development work progressed with local DMOs and individual businesses with the Taste Islay and Jura Food and Drink Festival and Dunoon Dirt Dash events in autumn 2019 and the Write by the Sea festival in early March 2020. New work is underway with the Taste of Place Trails due to be launched in the coming week and profiling Argyll’s incredible food and drink products, producers and experiences.

Throughout lockdown AITC played a key role in supporting the industry across Argyll and the Isles ensuring businesses had access to the latest information and guidance and also providing peer-to-peer support on Whats App and online. A survey conducted in the summer generated over 530 responses which fed in to national deliberations and also allowed AITC to publish the go.wildaboutargyll.co.uk business listings post lockdown. The Extra Mile special edition magazine published by Wyvex in partnership with AITC during the summer profiled individual businesses and the efforts they had taken to survive and offer quality and safe services for their customers and communities.

AITC’s direct membership scheme is now live with a £25 joining fee and subscriptions not being collected until March 2021. The member benefits are considerable with members able to access product development support, digital improvement advice and collaborative marketing opportunities.   AITC’s turnover in 2019-2020 was £280k, similar to the previous year, and looking to the future has funding in place to deliver significant campaign activity to support recovery linked to West Coast Waters, The Taste of Place Trails, sustainable tourism around Loch Awe, coastal cycling opportunities linked to the Caledonia Way and the new active travel carriage being launched by Scotrail on the Glasgow to Oban West Highland Line.