Robert Gordon University's leading tourism expert, Andrew Martin, who is originally from Elgin, has been appointed as Chair of Moray Tourism Development, a new limited company focused on raising the profile of Moray and Speyside as an internationally-renowned tourist destination.
With support from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE)and The Moray Council, the group's directors reflect a range of interests in the tourism sector. As Chair of Moray Tourism Development, Andrew will develop partnerships to build upon the region's global reputation as the home of malt whisky, its heritage and its natural environment.
Tourism is worth around £106,450M to Moray's economy and Andrew is confident that this figure could be a lot higher if focus is directed to its unique selling points, such as whisky tourism, and allowing the private sector to take more bookings. With over 3,700 jobs already provided by tourism in Moray, growth in the sector could give the local economy a real boost.
He said: “I am delighted to take up this post as I am passionate about what the Moray and Speyside area, and of course Scotland more generally, has to offer. I am very excited about bringing some of the key players in the region together to work on this and I believe that if we can stimulate real belief in our product, together with some clever marketing, then we could be really successful.”
Andrew has written a number of academic papers on the future of the whisky tourism industry and is passionate about its worldwide promotion. He said:
“Visiting a distillery is a brilliant day out. It's such a special experience that visitors become ambassadors for the product. You really do feel a bond to the whisky and the setting, and this makes for some pretty powerful brand loyalty. I'm just a local lad who loves a dram but there's a global market for all things Scottish and we have to encourage more people to come so that they can help us to spread the word.
“There's also the potential to raise awareness of adventure tourism in the region, not to mention key exports like Baxters, Walkers and Johnstons of Elgin.
Moray really is a place for all seasons, with hiking, biking, skiing, walking, and some of the best scenery on earth. And who knows, if Richard Branson decides to fly his spaceships from Lossiemouth, then we could be taking the message even further a field!”
As Director of the Scottish Centre of Tourism (SCoT) at the University, Andrew further explained: “Robert Gordon University is very much part of industry and as The Professional University we can play a key role in the development of the tourism industry in Scotland. I hope that my local, academic and professional links will make a strong contribution to Moray Tourism Development.”
Andrew will be taking over from interim Chair Jim Royan, a well-known local businessman. Jim is also Chair of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival and formerly a Governor of Robert Gordon University. He has been instrumental in the establishment of the new company.
Welcoming Andrew's appointment, Jim said: “It has been a real privilege to have worked for the last year with a group of leading individuals in the tourism industry in Moray with the support of HIE and The Moray Council. Our purpose was to create a vision and structure to raise the bar in tourism in this part of Scotland. Andrew's experience and credibility with the industry here in Moray creates an exciting prospect for us all and will, I am sure, help to turn the rhetoric into reality.”
Andrew will be introduced at the launch of Moray Tourism Development on Wednesday 24 February at the Glenfiddich Distillery. The launch will see key business people from across the region come together to discuss their priorities under the theme 'Making the Connections Work.'