Friday 30 September 2011

Framework for Golf... Where is it?

Been doing some research this morning for a golf client of ours which included looking through a whole host of word documents dating all the way back to 2001 and came across around two dozen golf tourism related reports in a research folder.

What I did find specifically was a document entitled "The Future of Scottish Golf" published by the Scottish Golf Union as part of their planned Scottish golf takeover. The document referred to a Framework and referenced heavily the idea of "One Plan for Golf in Scotland."

I remember at the time being involved with Golf Tourism Scotland at the time in producing a report on developing a structure for the delivery of Golf Tourism Scotland at the time and all the positive work done on the way forward for the key golfing regions was simply folded up and put away to be replaced by Hamish Gray's big idea as stated in the closing paragraphs of the Framework Proposal.

"We do feel, however, that there is a strong argument for the need for a strong leader within a lead organisation. The role is to lead, drive and motivate the team to ensure the vision is delivered. There is consensus that the Scottish Golf Union Ltd (SGU) is the body best placed to adopt this role. Reporting to this leader (as far as the Framework project is concerned) will be lead individuals for each key performance area. We envisage these individuals coming from bodies which have the relevant capabilities to deliver the results in each area. So, we see the structure as shown in the diagram below.
The core team is thus six people plus administrative support. They are likely to meet monthly, at least in the first year of activity. The bigger group – which has contributed so much in starting this initiative – would meet twice a year. The SGU has indicated its appetite to further investigate taking the lead role within such a structure. However, the additional resources required to do so have yet to be identified. "
As far as I can see from a tourism perspective there remains fragmentation, duplicate activity and no sign of a joined up delivery mechanism or even communications structure for Scottish golf tourism marketing and development.

Just curious if anyone out there knows what happened to One Plan for Golf and The Proposed Framework for delivery for which the SGU made themselves clearly champions. This project was being purported by VisitScotland, EventScotland and SGU as being the best way to bring together the public and private sectors and was the key reason as I recall it for the proposals by GTS for a Regional Golf Tourism structure not getting off the ground. It was torpedoed as unnecessary under the new Framework.

Couldn't be another example of vested interests again surely? What it is for sure is something that just never seems to be learned when it comes to tourism projects or destination planning at local, area or national levels - you cannot develop a strategy however well put together without having solid structures in place to build around.

Anyway, if you're completely bored you could have a read at the documents just to see what our esteemed golf industry leaders had cosy chats over.

"The Future of Scottish Golf" SGU 2008
"Regional Golf Review" Golf Tourism Scotland 2007

Tuesday 27 September 2011

Golf Tourism Scotland Changes

Scottish Tourism Forum have recently moved from Edinburgh to Stirling so all correspondence for Golf Tourism Scotland should be directed accordingly to the new address below

Elaine Townsend
Admin Office
Golf Tourism Scotland,
Old Town Jail,
St John Street,
t: 01786 459224
f: 01786 451037

Company Registered in Scotland No. SC285639

Tuesday 20 September 2011 - Tell Us Something We Didn't Know...

According to Investor website Priceline the company behind have shown an International sales surge of "90% to $612.9 million. Gross bookings, or the value of all travel services booked by customers, popped 70% to $5.8 billion. International gross bookings rose 98%. U.S. gross bookings grew 13%."

According to the report has enjoyed the strongest showing in Europe, where it boasts the biggest supply of hotels online on the continent, says Susquehanna Financial Group analyst Herman Leung he also then continued to say that Priceline's dominant supply position in Europe has helped it stifle competition.

The word stifle was the analysits choice of phrase in the initial article and not added by us! We wouldn't dare to suggest that the strategy of bidding for hotels own names on Google Adwords would ever stifle competition nor lead to switch selling buyers from going direct to buying through We would suggest however that it increases the cost to the individual hotels if they wish to secure their own brand and leads to less direct traffic for them.

An extranal analyist, Wedbush Securities Edward Woo, comments further, "The reason why is the preferred site is it has a lot more (inventory) of all the hotels, while others have a smaller percentage of hotels," adds also has a savvy search engine marketing team, says Leung, which has been able to leverage its dominant supply position in Europe to buy a larger and more targeted set of keywords for the hotels Google (GOOG) users may be targeting. See above!

Amazing growth figures for sure but which part of the industry is really paying for it all?

Faith Tourism Opportunities?

Being based in Ayrshire we sometimes are a little more sensitive to the effects of the loss of flights into the area and hear how the loss of golfers from Scandinavia and Germany have for example affected hoteliers and golf courses alike.

In circumstances where markets are changing so dramatically it is those that are fleet of foot and see the opportunities that flourish. Sitting back and waiting for someone else to develop new routes is just not going to happen. Developing new products for current markets is a lot more feasible for Scottish tourism producers than attracting new markets.

The following was extracted from a tourism review website and certainly offers some food for thought given the Polish flights still coming through Prestwick Airport

According to the report more and more Polish travelers go for religious tours with France and Spain being amongst the most popular destinations.

"Although not the cheapest, religious and spiritual tours are growing in popularity among Polish travelers. Religious traditions are deeply rooted in the lives of Poles and thus traveling to destinations connected to their faith is high in demand.

The industry of faith tourism underwent considerable changes in the country. In the past, pilgrimage traveling was mostly associated with pensioners and the prices were quite low. Today, tourists from various social groups want to travel to Rome, Lourdes and Fatima, the most popular faith tourism destination.

The quality of offered services went naturally up and now full board and quality accommodation are a standard part of a religious tour. Tour guides are usually experienced and have extensive knowledge about the destinations and sights. The level of religious tours is increasing steadily. Among the popular tour destinations for Polish travelers are various cities in France, Spain and Greece that have some connections to apostles and other Biblical personas. Mexico and Israel are also high in demand."

Okay my understanding of religion in Poland is quite limited but is I think mostly Catholic and whilst it may not be celebrated by all the opportunities to develop specific faith tours (not only to Polish catholics) must be a nice little niche to fill some off season bedspaces and coach seats.

The associations with all of those Saints? Columba, Mungo, Patrick oh yeah and that guy Andrew!

Not for all for sure but that's what added value tourism is all about is it not?

Thursday 8 September 2011

Oliver discovers his own Scottish island paradise

Television historian fronts new VisitScotland campaign

That cheery, laid back never too intense TV celebrity Neil Oliver is urging people to explore some of Scotland’s 700-plus islands.

But having been going through some of my old archives and listening some old eighties rock stuff the question I want answered is whether Neil Oliver (picture here on the right we think) has ever been seen in the same room as Stevie Doherty former guitarist and vocalist with Glasgow rock band of the eighties Zero Zero (Mr Doherty has also done a numberof other things inclduing fronting the Sensational Alex Harvey Band.)

Everytime I see Mr Intense Oliver on screen I think that perhaps they were separated at birth or that the TV career is the reason that Stevie D has not played in Scotland for a number of years? Can anyone verify that the DNA is the same? Or at least the mullet?

Anyway, the historian or guitar vocalist, is fronting a new VisitScotland campaign in connection with the Year of Scotland’s Islands, and was speaking during a trip to the Italian Chapel on Orkney.

Mr Oliver, star of BBC television series such as Coast and A History of Scotland, (and also perhaps the writer of such great rock tracks Heroes Live Forever and Rock Me (Rock All Night)) said the iconic chapel was only one example of the country’s unique offshore locations. 

Mr Oliver, who provides the voiceover (in the key of A) for VisitScotland’s new Surprise Yourself television adverts, said: “Scotland has some of the most amazing islands on earth - historically intriguing, boasting outstanding natural beauty and filled with stunning wildlife. There is so much to see and so much to explore, from uncovering Skara Brae, the Neolithic village on Orkney, to whale watching on Shetland, or taking in the magical Faerie Glen on Skye.

You can see him (or Mr Doherty if they are not one and the same) in the eighties video for Rock Me below.

Mr Doherty was unavaible for comment but he can be seen performing live in England and you can catch up with him and ask him if he knows bugger all about history on his Music Facebook page

Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland, said: “Television programmes such as Coast and An Island Parish have helped boost interest in Scotland’s islands, and our Surprising Island Trails will show visitors that there are so many more wonderful things for them to discover."

He then didn't go on to state that he looked forward to a reunion of Zero Zero and perhaps a support tour with Strangeways later in the year. Such activities he though (but didn't enunciate) work wonders for Scottish tourism and he felt that they could even do the soundtrack for Brave if he could be a backing vocalist

The Year of Scotland’s Islands runs until April 2012 and features more than 100 events.

Zero Zero will return...

British Airways merger with Aer Lingus Possible?

Reports from TravelMole that BA could merge with Aer Lingus after the Irish government and Ryanair indicated they may both be willing to sell their share in the Irish flag carrier.

The Irish government is expected to announce later today that it will dispose of its 25% stake in Aer Lingus and, according to a report in The Times, Ryanair has confirmed that it will sell its 29.8% shareholding.

BA's parent IAG has already stated that it wants to lead consolidation in Europe and chief executive Willie Walsh was previously head of Aer Lingus, which is the fourth largest airline at Heathrow where it holds 3% of all take-off and landing slots.

Could it lead to a Heathrow slot to Scotland? We doubt it very much...

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Simpsinns Continue their Ayrshire Expansion

WORK on a £2m futuristic restaurant on the site of the former Golf Hotel could start in as little as six weeks as hoteliers Malcolm and Karen Simpson complete the transformation of their latest venture.

The couple say the Irvine project will be their top priority after The Waterside at Seamill opens for business.

The Irvine couple who own The Gailes Hotel and the Old Loans Inn are only weeks away from opening the revamped Waterside Hotel near Seamill and have to date invested around a million and a half on creating a New England-style restaurant and bar and according to the local newspaper The Irvine Herald, plans are well advance for an October opening of the new landmark Ayrshrie restaurant.

“After months of planning, all the hard work behind the scenes is coming together in what promises to be a unique bar and dining experience on the north Ayrshire landscape,” said Malcolm.

On arrival, guests will immediately be struck by the New England design of the building which utilises its location adjacent to the beach to offer front row viewing across the bay – scenery you will never tire of.

“We just fell in love with the views and we are sure people who dine here will too.

“The building will look entirely different from before and the moment people walk through the door we want them to see our open kitchen and Rabata grill.”

But the couple won’t sit back for long as straight away they will start work on phase two at The Waterside – a hotel and banqueting suite while at the same time beginning work on building Si! Restaurant on the site of the Golf Hotel in Kilwinning Road.

The ambitious project, creating 40 new jobs, boasts a two-storey restaurant and bar complete with a balcony for al fresco dining.

Malcolm went on: “We decided to complete phase one of The Waterside and then move on to Si!. “We will have to knock the Golf Hotel down but it will be all hands on deck to get it open soon.

You can find out more about Simpsinns at their Group Website or the hotel websites for Gailes Hotel or The Old Loans Inn