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Lanarkshire targets £9 million annual tourism growth

 VisitLanarkshire - Chatelherault
The group behind VisitLanarkshire.com, VenuesLanarkshire.com and BeLanarkshire.com, is targeting 2.5 per cent annual growth, roughly £9 million per year, in the region’s tourism sector by 2020. The ambitious target, which aims to increase both visitor numbers and jobs, has been revealed in the Lanarkshire Area Tourism Partnership’s recently published Tourism Lanarkshire 2020 report.

The report has been developed following in-depth research in partnership with private, public and third sector organisations. The three main areas identified for growth are leisure tourism, business tourism and customer service training to encourage repeat business. The strategy is based on the following themes:
• Turning assets into quality experiences • Improving the customer journey • Increasing digital capabilities • Leadership and collaboration  

As well as the Partnership’s overarching tourism aspirations, local authorities and independent businesses are investing heavily to attract leisure and business visitors. Ongoing projects include a £3.5 million upgrade at the David Livingstone Centre and improved conferencing facilities at Dakota Eurocentral as well as a £4 million investment, funded through the Regeneration Captial Grant Fund, for the Muirfield Centre in Cumbernauld. Hotel developments include £429K invested by the Q hotels group in new spa facilities at Westerwood Hotel and the newly opened five-star Crossbasket Castle hotel near East Kilbride.  

Lanarkshire Area Tourism Partnership’s coordinated approach to attracting tourism has helped lead to a 12 per cent growth in tourism-related jobs since 2012. Annual visitor numbers to the region are also up by more than 100,000 in the same period, and the accommodation provision has increased by 12 per cent since 1999 to almost 8,000 beds.  

The trend of increasing visitor numbers is expected to continue with major improvements being made to the area’s transport links. Lanarkshire is currently within an hour of many major towns and cities in Scotland. The £500-million-pound road improvements to the M8, M73 and M74 including the Raith Interchange which are due to be completed during 2017 will improve access from Glasgow and Edinburgh as well as journeys around Lanarkshire.  

Lanarkshire has a wealth of attractions for tourists from stunning country parks to UNESCO World Heritage sites, museums, indoor and outdoor activity centres, cosy hotels and a high quality local food scene. Lanarkshire has a wealth of venues for events and meetings including a Duke’s former hunting lodge and a horse-racing course. Lanarkshire has also been the stage for world-class sporting events such as the Commonwealth Games rowing and triathlon events at Strathclyde Country Park and the Pearl Izumi Tour Series road cycling race in Motherwell.  

Lanarkshire’s tourism growth targets are aligned with national targets as set out in Tourism Scotland 2020. Across Scotland tourism accounts for five per cent of total GDP equating to nearly £9 billion last year according to the Scottish government.  

Chair of the Lanarkshire Tourism Association, Mark Calpin, said: “Our 2.5 per cent year-on-year growth target is ambitious but achievable. By 2020, we want to cement Lanarkshire’s reputation as a destination that offers excellent quality, value for money and accessibility for all.  

“The tourism sector in Lanarkshire is already thriving with every £1 invested returning around £56 to the local economy. We anticipate seeing this rate grow over the coming four years. The area enjoys some of the best food and drink, transport links, accommodation, heritage and businesses in the country.”  

“We can only achieve these targets with the ongoing support of the local authorities, businesses and tourism groups in the region. By pulling together in the same direction, we believe we can exceed our targets and help Lanarkshire’s tourism economy thrive.”

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