Aberdeenshire councillors back plans to form joint north-east tourism organisation

Dunnottar Castle
Dunnottar Castle

Plans to create a new tourism group to promote the north-east are gathering pace.

Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire council soon team up to highlight the best the region has to offer, by combining Visit Royal Deeside, Banffshire Coast Tourism Partnership and Visit Aberdeen into one group.

Yesterday, Aberdeenshire Council unanimously backed the proposals to form the joint destination management organisation (DMO).

But they said hoteliers also have their part to play in overcoming the oil and gas downturn, and ensuring people still come to the north-east.

East Garioch councillor Fergus Hood said in light of the slump in the industry, the new organisation should “encourage the hotel owners to be more tourism focused, and to lower their room rates to reflect that, and attract more tourism into Aberdeenshire and the city”.

Council co-leader Martin Kitts-Hayes said: “I think we all agree that tourism is very important for the economy of Aberdeenshire. However in some parts of Aberdeenshire, particularly in Ballater, I think again it is absolutely critical to the local economy.”

Councillor Dave Stewart sought assurances that the new group would not focus on certain areas such as Deeside – asking the Kincardine and Mearns area not to be ignored.

Director of infrastructure services Stephen Archer said the new group would celebrate “what it is we have got”, adding: “This is Aberdeenshire-wide. It is not just about Deeside, it is not just about X, it is not just about Y.”

Provost Hamish Vernal will head the organisation alongside SNP colleague, John Cox.

Councillor Peter Argyle made an attempt to vote Banchory colleague Jill Webster to Mr Cox’s position as a substantive member but was outvoted 35 to 30.

Jennifer Craw, chief executive of Opportunity North East, said: “Having a single DMO to promote and develop tourism in the region would be a great advantage, as the city and shire are naturally linked and would benefit from combined promotional efforts.”