In a recent interview with Executive, the leading business magazine in the Highlands, Dr Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland, praised the work being carried out by The Outdoor Capital of the UK project (Fort William and Lochaber) in helping to achieve sustainable economic development though adventure tourism in the Highlands.
Dr Mike Cantlay, who sees adventure tourism as an important expansion area for the Highlands, helping to achieve sustainable economic growth, said: “The fantastic work being done on The Outdoor Capital of the UK project is a great example of the kind of thing which will bring results for the Highlands.”
The Outdoor Capital of the UK is a community-focused not for profit membership company with a volunteer board of directors and a salaried staff of three. Through a range of collaborative marketing intiatives and activities the organisation promotes Fort William and Lochaber as the best place in the UK for everyone to experience the outdoors; with a view to developing local jobs and wealth and encouraging sustainable economic growth.
Dr Cantlay also said: “Tourism businesses need to work together and recognize that their neighbours are partners, not the competition.”
Since it was established in 2005 the Outdoor Capital of the UK has been doing just that, encouraging its members to work together on marketing, product development, service quality and sustainability in the sector throughout Lochaber.
Frazer Coupland, Project Director of The Outdoor Capital of the UK, said: “2010 has been an exciting year for the Outdoor Capital of the UK. The project has secured funding for three years and the business membership has increased by 30%.
“VisitScotland's positive endorsement of the project; recognising the hard work and dedication of our member businesses to improve and develop the adventure tourism experience in Lochaber, is yet another boost for the area's tourism sector. This positive note of encouragement together with VisitScotland's growth funding award will enable us to deliver a diverse range of collaborative marketing opportunities for our members in 2011 and beyond.”
The Outdoor Capital of the UK draws it's members from throughout Lochaber and currently has over 130 member businesses. These range from accommodation, food and drink and activity providers to non-tourism focused businesses who support the aims of the Outdoor Capital and acknowledge that tourism is crucial to the local economy. Many of these businesses are SME's and by pulling resources and working as a team the Outdoor Capital achieves the positive results that individually the members couldn't otherwise reach.
Recent Outdoor Capital of the UK initiatives include:
The What's On Guide : Through 2009 and 2010, the Outdoor Capital have developed and improved the What's On in the Outdoor Capital publication, a definitive guide to what is happening in Fort William & Lochaber. Features include suggested itineraries in all weathers, 20 things you really should know about …, a guide to Gaelic phrases and Top 5's including beaches, waterfalls, wildlife watching spots and walks. All Outdoor Capital members receive a listing and discounted rates for ads and editorial.
Collaborative Advertising Campaigns : for many small operators, advertising in some publications is either prohibitively expensive or less able to make an impact. A number of OCUK members have collaborated to advertise jointly in sector-appropriate media.
Who Cares Wins : Local businesses wanted to implement a Quality Initiative in Lochaber. The Who Cares Wins scheme was launched by the OCUK in 2009. In 2010 nearly 100 businesses are participating. As a result members are learning the trends in what makes or breaks a visit to the area. The most common negative comments have been to do with the inclement weather. This resulted in a 'Rainy Day' itinerary being highlighted in the What's On guide and on the website, which highlights things to do indoors, or which are unaffected or even enhanced by the wet stuff!
The current issue of Executive magazine can be viewed here –
For more information on the Outdoor Capital Of The UK go to – http://www.outdoorcapital.co.uk/index.asp
Paddy Cuthbert, Podge Publicity – T: 07968 699636 / E: firstname.lastname@example.org