Clear vision needed for East Dunbartonshire tourism

The Forth & Clyde Canal is one of the area’s top tourist attractions

East Dunbartonshire must establish a clear vision of what the area has to offer if it is to maximise its potential for attracting tourists to the area.

That is the conclusion of Jo Swinson, who has put her views forward to East Dunbartonshire Council’s consultation on its new Tourism Strategy & Action Plan.

Jo has proposed a number of steps that should be taken to improve local tourism, including:

• Establishing tourism information centres and looking at funding options for a tourism officer.

• Maximising the benefits of the likely award of World Heritage Status to the Antonine Wall in summer 2008.

• Developing and expanding Kirkintilloch Canal Festival, to further promote the town’s canal heritage.

• Promoting active holidays in the area, taking advantage of local activities like walking, cycling, horseriding and boat trips.

• Making the most of Glasgow hosting the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Jo said:

“Any area trying to attract tourists needs a clear vision and brand to sell to visitors. This should get to the heart of what the area has to offer in terms of activities, leisure, shopping, accommodation and the natural environment. In my view there is scope to improve on the vision we use to sell East Dunbartonshire, and this is the key point made by my submission to the Council’s consultation on its tourism strategy.

“This area is in close proximity to Glasgow, acts as a gateway to the Trossachs and offers as wide an array of active pursuits as areas in the Highlands, with much greater accessibility. We have a range of strong local events like the Kirkintilloch Canal Festival and a potential World Heritage Site in the Antonine Wall. East Dunbartonshire has more than enough tourism potential to be a top Scottish destination, but it has to be promoted in the right way.

“One concerning feature of the tourism strategy document is the lack of a measurement of visitor numbers to some of East Dunbartonshire’s key attractions, including the West Highland Way, Campsie Fells and Forth and Clyde Canal. These attractions deserve greater focus; measurements of trends in visitor numbers year-on-year should form an important part of the tourism strategy.

“Overall, the preparation of a new tourism strategy is very welcome. There are many attractions bringing tourists to this area, but too often their potential is not being realised. I am sure the final strategy will help put East Dunbartonshire firmly on the tourist map.”

The consultation period on the Tourism Strategy and Action Plan ran from Friday 7 March to Friday 18 April 2008. This consultation exercise will help inform further development of the plan and a final approved version of the Tourism Strategy and Action Plan will be published later in 2008.

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