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Visit East Lothian: new Tourism Group Steps Forward

Major Tourism Study explores how to Develop our Coastal Areas

It may or may not be a coincidence, but the head of steam that's been gathering in the 3Harbours Regeneration Group since last autumn has been mirrored in a major study approved this month by East Lothian Council. 'Our' 3Harbours Regeneration initiative had unusual beginnings, the wanton destruction of Auld Fowler's HQ and the future of Cockenzie Power Station, but it's certainly vibrant. Iain Gray MSP has relished having the bit between his teeth as Chairman - and done it well too!

In a 300 page Report, split into STRATEGY [Part 2] & TECHNICAL [Part 1] most stones have been turned over to see what's already happening in the county and what can be better done.

To help drive it forward Francis Ogilvie, hard working young entreprenneur and Scotia baronet in charge of his family heritage and more at Winton House, has taken the chair of a re-structured campaign group. Its inaugural meeting is in Haddington for a working lunch on Friday March 19th @ the Eastern Eye. Those who wish to get involved should book a place by phoning Audrey Stevenson on 01620 82 4000 as soon as possible.

Facts of the Matter - and What's Missing?

There's no need to get beyond the Executive Summary in Part 2 to learn that tourism is worth some £224million each year to our county and provides some 5,000 jobs. Our beaches alone attract more than a million visitors a year.

But much of this we are informed is achieved on a fragmented [you could however say 'sensibly focussed'] basis and seasonality presents a major challenge. And there's not a great deal of shared market intelligence across the county.

If you're a research analyst you'll want to abolish the seasons and collate a mountain of data in order to generate a bag ful of options [and your editor here is a professional marketing researcher!]. But the real entreprenneurs who have driven our county's tourism thus far will be rightly cautious of too much more data gathering and too much agonising about macro-networks and infrastructural concerns.

What most would love to see is more powerful micro-networking where those at the visitor-end of the tourism industry meet fellow travellers in tourism delivery, and arrive at pragmatic action lines of their own.

Having laid bare the nature of the industry, it is of course good to see this evidence shared and the present flames fanned, rather than searching for an elusive normative approach.

Fanning flames means promoting the county as the place to play golf, to observe bird life, to delve into the arts, to explore the nation's heritage. These are our macro-product themes and the county can stand proud in each and every one of them, not at the expense of any others but as major vectors for communicating why a visit to East Lothian is going to be very rewarding. Each of these can work together to create annual festivals and shared events where 1 + 1 = 3.

Of course it's true that 'individual' venues frequently stand proud all on their own, whether it is a 'place' such as Port Seton or North Berwick or a venue such as Winton House, the SeaBird Centre, East Fortune, Glenkinchie or Tantallon Castle. But there's a two way/ three way avenue that brings more repeat visits to the big players as well as visits to complementary, often up and coming venues. Not just trillions of leaflets on stands but reciprocal trading agreements and more!

Sir Francis promises to bring a good sense of humour and a sure touch to the process ...

"'s an honour, if dubious delight, to be appointed chairman of Visit East Lothian" he begins.

"... if it's agreed that there is a need for a unified voice we must first establish a mandate to operate ... alongside established sector groups."

Amen. And let the watchword ever be: Action Lines!


PART 1 HERE - Technical Report

PART 2 HERE - Strategy Report

Now Click on the press cutting below to enlarge

Published Date: March 14th 2010

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