Planning for tourism’s future

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It was great to see so many people at the inaugural Midlothian Tourism Conference, held recently at Newbattle Abbey College, writes Ian Gardner (Midlothian Tourism Forum).

More than 50 people attending heard a range of inspiring and practical presentations about trends in Scottish tourism today, how to make tourism more accessible, making the most of digital marketing opportunities and how we can all learn from our own visitors and customers.

The conference also saw the launch of the Midlothian Tourism Action Plan, 2016-20. The plan sets out Midlothian Tourism Forum's priorities and links in with the national tourism strategy and with the programme of forthcoming themed years. So what will the forum be concentrating on?

The priorities play to our strengths and reflect the key tourism assets in Midlothian - outdoors and nature, built and local heritage, food and drink, events, cycling, youth tourism, business tourism and town centres.

For each year of the strategy, an action plan will be developed to outline activities to be undertaken or planned for each area. We will be looking at new ways of working together, such as developing agroup to help co-ordinate the area's growing events programme, and we will be starting some new initiatives, such as 'Midlothian Heritage Week' in 2017, linking to the national Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology. We will also look at how we can build up skills across the industry and see how marketing, accessibilty and transport, such as this year's test of the Explorer Bus, can be enhanced. The work will be led by the members of the forum, in partnership with Midlothian Council and VisitScotland.

Membership of the forum, at £50 a year, is open to any business or organisation with an interest in developing tourism in Midlothian. We have exciting plans and, if you are not already a member, hope that you will email to find out more.