On the 9th of November 2016, Forbes of Kingennie Country Resort provided the setting for an Angus Tourism Industry meeting. Angus Council organised the event as a means of engaging ideas and opinions from business owner and workers that would gain insight into how Angus should approach the needs of local businesses and moreover how it moves tourism in the area forward. A variety of Angus based businesses were invited to attend the meeting.
There were round table discussions where groups rotated to listen to a speaker on different subjects at each table. The speakers were Dennis MacFarlane of VisitScotland, Dr Tom Mathar of LJ Research, Allan James from the Park & Links Hotels in Montrose and David Smythe, Chair of the Perthshire Tourism Partnership.
Dennis MacFarlane spoke of the #ScotSpirit program and what we could do to improve the guest experience. Allan James spoke on what his business had done to attract more guests via promotion and offers. Dr Tom Mathar spoke on the visitor research work Angus were conducting and how we could help.
Finally, David Smyth opened the subject of collaboration and working in partnership with other local businesses to promote an area. As the conversation flowed it became apparent that there was a hunger for a body to exist within Angus that provided this.
Then in February 2017, the same businesses with other representatives of industry related organisations met at Bruce House in Arbroath to discuss the possibility of establishing an ‘Angus tourism leadership group’. The meeting was set up with the help of Scottish Enterprise and Angus Council and follows on from feedback gained from the tourism meeting held at Forbes of Kingennie.
Jim Maxwell from Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS), a group within Scottish Enterprise, related details of other collaborative groups that have been set up in Scotland to promote other areas. As the conversation flowed, the majority of the room agreed that there needed to be a more co-ordinated approach to marketing Angus as a destination with the need for a common vision the whole sector can engage with. To move this forward it was suggested that a marketing workshop be arranged to allow ideas to be shared into how this is accomplished.
Following on from that; a smaller group of volunteers met on the 14th of June 2017 to discuss the idea further and from that the ‘Angus Tourism Cooperative’ or ‘ATC’ was formed.
It was agreed that four initial members who will take their place on the board. Stuart Clark of Balmuirfield House B&B, Tommy Baxter of Glamis Castle, Allison Elliot of Murton Trust and Ann-Marie Black of Blacks of Brechin. The group was to be aided by Angus Council and VisitScotland.
A draft mission statement was produced.
The purpose of the Cooperative was to work collaboratively to improve the tourism offer in Angus and to promote the area as a visitor destination in particular through:
1) bringing together Angus businesses involved in the tourism industry to encourage collaboration and strategic alignment;
2) creating an influential, collective voice to represent Angus at a regional and national level;
3) developing and leading a tourism strategy for Angus;
4) agreeing a strategic marketing plan to promote Angus as a visitor destination;
5) enabling members to act together to identify new business opportunities;
6) providing opportunities for members to share their views and experience, and to network and collaborate;
7) supporting businesses to increase capacity and capability.