The Giant Strides strategy is the latest step in over ten years of activity. The early stages of this work saw the formation of the Cross-Party Group for Recreational Boating and Marine Tourism. This helped to bring many of the organisations operating in and working with marine tourism and boating together. In turn this built the platform for the development of the first marine tourism strategy – Awakening the Giant. It also helped to raise the profile and potential of Marine Tourism with Parliamentarians and Government.
Awakening the Giant
This work came at the same time as the launch of a new national tourism strategy – Tourism Scotland 2020 [insert link]. This strategy was a step change on earlier versions and the first joint public/private strategy to be developed by the tourism sector. Awakening the Giant [link] was developed in a similar way with agreement from across the sector and from government. It also linked directly into the national strategy, adopting the same framework – often referred to as “the rocket” – and a derivative of the national vision to ensure strong alignment.
The strategy was very successful, inspiring and supporting a mix of investments and activity across Scotland. A practical insight to the success Awakening the Giant supported and inspired came direct from a charter boat owner who contributed to the consultation ahead of the latest strategy:
”A major break-through in developing and implementing the marine tourism strategy has been to bring together the various stake holders. This is in contrast to the factionalism evidenced a decade or so ago.
This harmony has secured the political drive (and funding) necessary to make changes and should be safeguarded as a priority.
The step-ashore investments made to date on the West Coast have been substantial. In the last decade or so I have seen new pontoons or mooring buoys established at many locations including: Girvan, Campbeltown, Lochranza, East Loch Tarbert, Rothesay, Loch Ryan, Millport, Port Bannatyne, Brodick, Lamlash, Otter Ferry, Portavadie, Irvine, Rathlin Island, Port Ellen, Gigha, Craighouse, Oban, Fort William, Easdale, Loch Aline, Tobermory, Salen, Kilchoan, Arinagour, Rum, Canna, Mallaig, Isle Ornsay, Kyle of Lochalsh, Plockton, Portree, Acairsed Mhor, Loch Torridon, Gairloch, Ullapool, Lochinver, Kinlochbervie, Castlebay, Eriskay, Loch Boisdale, Loch Maddy, Leverburgh, East Loch Tarbert (Harris), Scalpay and Stornoway.
The list is not exhaustive, but I have bored you with this list of 46 locations to emphasize the degree and rate of change.”
As both the national tourism strategy and Awakening the Giant came to the end of their cycles, work began on the next steps. At the national level that saw a notable shift in emphasis, responding to global mega trends and consumer behaviour in Scotland, to make communities and the environment much more prominent. The new national strategy – Outlook 2030 [link] - was published in early spring 2020.
Our next strategy was developed in parallel and drew from national work and insight as well as a consultation exercise across the marine tourism sector. The report [insert link] directly informed the development of Giant Strides.
The new strategy was officially launched in spring 2020.
Giant Strides is a different kind of strategy. It takes a much broader and fuller view of marine tourism and its unique role in rural, coastal and island communities. It marks a pronounced shift away from the classic narrow focus on financial growth to become a strategy that drives multiple benefits across communities, the environment and the economy.
This is intended to be a strategy of influence and takes a partnership approach to strategic development. The five-year plan aims to boost Scotland‘s reputation as a world-class sustainable marine tourism destination by meeting changing consumer, workforce, community and environmental needs and grow the industry’s economic contribution to over £500 million by 2025.