Three years ago a group of businesses in Mid-Argyll joined efforts to promote the rich culture and heritage of the region.
With support from Co-operative Development Scotland they formed the Heart of Argyll Tourism Alliance, an open membership co-operative designed to attract more tourists in Mid-Argyll. The co-operative is a legacy of the Heritage Lottery funded Dalriada Project.
The founding members, including hotels, bed and breakfasts, shops and activity providers came together to create a website, marketing plan and brand for Mid-Argyll. They came up with a set of innovative ideas, including enhanced tourist signage and facilities and dedicated ‘Explore for a Day’ itineraries, all aimed at promoting the region. Their approach is different particularly because it enables various businesses from the area to work together rather than compete.
Andrew Wilson, Chair of the Alliance said the co-operative structure enables the organisation to grow and work well with other groups. “Co-operation is important”, he says, adding that by working together they can help to publicise the area.
The success of these initiatives brought them a nomination for Co-operative UK’s Most Innovative Co-operative Award this year.
Referring to the Award, Mr Wilson said: “As a co-operative we stand together and by doing so, we stand taller.” He explained how the Alliance helps to showcase the tourist wonders of Kilmartin Glen, the Crinan Canal, Iveraray, Tarbert and the unique Scottish Beaver Trial.
The Heart of Argyll Tourism Alliance has also received support from partners including Mid Argyll Chamber of Commerce, Argyll & Bute Council, VisitScotland, Forestry Commission Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and British Waterways Scotland.