VisitAberdeenshire has produced a review of “a phenomenal period in our lives” – setting out its activities during 2020 and early 2021.
The tourism body says it delivered 36 webinars, with 773 attendees, and 232 tailored one-to-one sessions. There were also 52 product development sessions, which led to 30 new products.
In the most challenging of years for the tourism sector, VisitAberdeenshire says it concentrated on adapting its marketing and development activities to meet rapidly changing circumstances.
Our marketing plans were re-shaped, retargeted, paused, then reactivated.”
Chris Foy, VisitAberdeenshire
Spearheading its work during the period was its business recovery programme, aimed at helping hospitality and tourism businesses build resilience in an uncertain market.
The programme was geared towards business needs, with themes including digital marketing, interpreting customer and market insights, and advice to develop new products and experiences.
VisitAberdeenshire chief executive Chris Foy said: “The recovery programme has been the talismanic project of the last 12 months, giving industry some much-needed guidance and steer, delivered by our tourism development team alongside industry experts from across the UK.
Another wave of activity looms
“Our work in this space continues as we look to implement another wave of activity in the coming months.
“In addition, our marketing plans were re-shaped, retargeted, paused, then reactivated, and our endeavours to secure long-term business from tour operators and conference organisers adapted as normal routes to market were closed.
“This continues to be a team effort across the region, with tangible outcomes demonstrating the value of the continued support for tourism from Opportunity North East (One) and our two local authorities”
Funding partners’ continued investment ‘essential’
One chief executive Jennifer Craw said: “In what has continued to be a challenging
time for the tourism sector the role of VisitAberdeenshire, together with Opportunity North East’s continued investment, has been essential to support recovery and drive longer-term growth.
“The combined focus of a comprehensive and highly relevant recovery programme, together with ambitious transformational projects, will ensure the region emerges as a thriving, sustainable tourist destination that offers an exceptional visitor experience, delivers business growth and creates new jobs.”
City council culture spokeswoman Councillor Marie Boulton said: “The annual review makes for really encouraging reading, and as one of VisitAberdeenshire’s main funders we are really pleased with the outcomes it highlights – particularly with the imaginative use of online technology to build new products aimed at helping the tourism sector, which plays such a vital role in the local economy.
“Aberdeen City Council has used similar approaches to maintain our cultural offering, with hugely popular events such as Granite Noir switching to an online format this year.
“We have also maintained digital access to our libraries and award-winning art gallery throughout the most challenging of periods.
“It is great that we and our partners are all pulling together to ensure innovation lies at the heart of the post-pandemic recovery.”
Aberdeenshire Council deputy leader Peter Argyle said: “The past 18 months have been
exceptionally challenging for the whole of the tourism industry and the north-east has not been immune from the effects.
“As we emerge from the pandemic rebuilding this important sector is a key priority for
Aberdeenshire Council and VisitAberdeenshire. There are opportunities as well as challenges, and we all need to work together to develop the former while facing up to the latter.”
Pre-pandemic, direct tourism expenditure in the north-east contributed more than £730 million to the local economy every year, supporting almost 18,500 jobs across nearly 1,400 diverse businesses.
Earlier this month, it emerged the arrival of the Tour of Britain – Britain’s top cycle race- in the north-east during September could inject more than £2m into the north-east economy in a single day.
Business recovery programme case studies
Covid 19 brought the Grampian Transport Museum to a shuddering full stop for the first time in four decades. Always looking for positives, we used the time to take stock, look to the future, and press reset. A number of key organisations were there for us from day one. Prominent among them was VisitAberdeenshire.”
Mike Ward, curator, Grampian Transport Museum.
“I found VisitAberdeenshire’s business recovery programme invaluable. I involved relevant team members… and we all learned new skills. The specialists who delivered the webinars were excellent, with lots of practical advice and useful tools which we used as a road map to give structure to recovery planning. We also benefited from interaction with other businesses, and from sharing common challenges and best practice.”
Mary Martin, director, Aberdeen Douglas Hotel