Winter is a Perfect Time to Discover Islay

Neil Scott, vice chairman of the Discover Islay group, sent me the following press release which has been issued by VisitScotland after the official opening of the new Discover Islay website last Monday. I thought it would be a good idea, if only to present the full picture, to publish the official version as well, alongside my own meandering thoughts about the new marketing scheme on Islay:

An ambitious marketing project to attract winter leisure breaks to the Isle of Islay has taken its first step with the launch of a promotional web site for the island, The site will form the basis of a programme of activity 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.

Using stunning photography, the new site illustrates the overall campaign’s focus on Islay’s credentials as a unique, high-quality destination for walking, cycling, bird-watching, wildlife and fishing, as well as capitalising on the island’s outstanding whisky distilleries and hidden gems such as the Machrie championship links golf course. There is also a section on genealogy, which will develop to allow visitors to the site to request a report on retracing the ancestors’ footsteps.

The launch was celebrated at a reception at the island’s Columba Centre earlier this week, attended by constituent tourism businesses in the Discover Islay consortium leading the project. National tourism agency VisitScotland has supported Discover Islay with 40 per cent of the project’s total £17,000 budget for its first year.

Neil Scott of the Harbour Inn and Restaurant in Bowmore is Discover Islay’s vice chairman. He said: 'We’re delighted to finally launch the web site and get down to the serious work of Discover Islay: attracting more visitors in the winter months. We’ve designed the site with a strong emphasis on beautiful photography to emphasise our breathtaking landscapes and the huge variety of things to see and do and experience on Islay. 'Our next step is to promote the site to people around the world and put travel packages in place for visitors to get here. We’ll be launching those packages early in the New Year,' he said.

VisitScotland area director for Argyll, Iain Close, was at this week’s launch event. He said: 'We’re working with the tourism industry towards a 50 per cent growth in tourism revenues by 2015, and one of the key ways of achieving that growth is in extending the traditional tourism season and taking advantage of windows in capacity. 'Many people might not immediately think of a winter break in Scotland, but the web site does an excellent job of illustrating just how much there is to do here at this time of year, and that it can be the perfect time to discover Islay.'