The Isle of Islay is set for a major new step in its growth as a tourism destination, as an ambitious marketing project undertaken by a group of local businesses has attracted a funding boost from the national tourism agency VisitScotland. Under the name ‘Discover Islay’, the group of diverse tourism businesses aims to increase Islay’s international reputation as a quality Scottish holiday destination, with particular emphasis on developing the winter season, when there is greater capacity in the island’s accommodation.
VisitScotland’s funding award will contribute 40 per cent of the project’s total £17,000 budget for its first year, which will support the development of a high-quality Discover Islay brand logo, a new web site, promotional print and a programme of press trips and media activity.
Discover Islay has plans to bolster the campaign still further by seeking additional support and forming strategic partnerships among a wide range of local and mainland enterprises. The campaign will focus on Islay’s credentials as a unique, high-quality destination for walking, cycling, bird-watching, wildlife watching and fishing, as well as capitalising on the island’s outstanding whisky distilleries and hidden gems such as the Machrie championship links golf course.
Professor Derek Reid, chairman of Discover Islay’s Executive Board and a former chief executive of the Scottish Tourist Board, said: 'I believe this is a wonderful opportunity for Islay and its tourism-related businesses to work closely together to develop the enormous potential of a very special and unique part of Scotland.'
VisitScotland area director for Argyll, Iain Close, said: 'Each of the member businesses in Discover Islay understands that the island offers an exceptional tourism experience and that there is huge potential for growth. They also understand the importance of partnership working in achieving that growth. 'Our Challenge Fund was designed to encourage partnership working within the tourism industry, and so contribute to our shared ambition for a 50 per cent growth in tourism revenues by 2015. Discover Islay is a great example that the principle works,' he said.