There was a full house last Thursday as representatives from many Deeside businesses gathered at Balmoral Castle to attend the Royal Deeside and Cairngorms annual conference named “Building the Journey.”
At the all-day event the audience were entertained and enthused by a variety of speakers and well fed by local produce from Country Flavours of Alford.
Garry Marsden, visitor enterprise manager from Balmoral Castle, welcomed the guests and mentioned he was getting ready to open the castle at the end of this month to the first of their 60,000 or so annual visitors. He also added that the castle would host a touring exhibition this year from London of around 40 images of HM The Queen and stressed the importance on social networking when it comes to tourism.
Claire Bruce, chair of Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms DMO, then stressed that 2013 was the “Year of Natural Scotland” and questioned where would be better to celebrate than the rural surroundings they found themselves in.
Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, went through the strategy and action plan to raise the tourism profile over the next seven years. Mr Crothall co-ordinates the Strategy Steering Group who are responsible for delivering the Tourism Scotland 2020 objectives.
Out of the 60-or-so people attending the conference there were representatives from many different tourism businesses and bodies, including the likes of Crathie Opportunity Holidays, Federation of Small Businesses, Visit Scotland, and Marr Area Partnership, amongst many more.
One of the speakers, Willie Cameron who was voted “Ambassador of the Year for Tourism” in 2012, and also described as a “powerhouse of new ideas” gave an inspiring speech.
He told those attending the conference how he started off with nothing and created an industry around Loch Ness. He said, about this area: “I believe you have a lot of history that can be built upon” and gave the advice that “before you start the journey, you need to know where you’ve been, where you are now, and where you want to end up.
‘‘There’s no reason Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms can’t be up there with the big boys as a prime tourist destination. Tourism is everybody’s business”.
Mr Cameron continued with his motivational speech and said that all the tourism businesses need to work together to make a successful tourism destination and said “If the moon listened to all the dogs that barked, it wouldn’t rise each night!”.
He defined tourism as “showing everything at its best and you showing it with passion.
The people who were successful were the people who were passionate” and said - when speaking about the Scotland football team - that fans travel the world over and continue to follow their team, they drive hundreds of miles for only 90 minutes, and said you’ve only got to look at the results to see that that’s passion.
Mr Cameron suggested the area be run like almost like a hotel business: “The man who washes the dishes in as important as the general mmanager at the top. One cannot work without the other”.
He finished by saying: “You have magnificent assets here, your product cannot move overseas or location, but your visitors can” and suggested that those in the local tourism business treated the rest of the world as their competition.