Tuesday, 30 April 2013

How hard is it to market this?

In the raw this is our biggest asset:
Money can't buy what the film makers see here or the free advertising from it
There is much talk of a BID (business investment district) for the entire Lochaber area in order that funds can be levied from business rates and match funding gained so that projects such as:

  • Gateway signage at all entry points to Lochaber
  • Complimentary welcome signage in each main community
  • Three modern, bold breath-taking viewing platforms in key locations across Lochaber
  • A full-time event co-ordinator to help
  • An annual and sustained, dynamic whole-area marketing campaign
  • Co-ordinated work to increase the power and draw from some of our key regional assets: Glencoe, Ben Nevis, West Highland Line.
  • Cruise ships visiting Fort William routinely.
  • Much better access to the water for users around Lochaber.
  • Phase 1 of a marina for Loch Linnhe.
  • Leverage an additional £60k per year from other partners and agencies (eg HIE, Highland Council, VisitScotland).
All this sounds fine and is based partly on Seattle where "The Outdoor Capital" had a visit. It's good to know that those who are members are paying for these trips to get ideas, but I wonder what it really means and who stands to gain in our area. I don't see anything in it for South Lochaber, or as it still is to me North Argyll as I still feel more an Argyll person than Highland.  I see a lot in it for Fort William which as a town seems to be failing badly so a Fort William BID would make sense. None of the proposals will do anything for here and in fact a business levy would be punitive as we might all on this side of Loch Lhinnie vote no, yet still be levied. An event co-ordinator might score with a nice salary though.

Kinlochleven,  Rapidly becoming a must go place for serious mountain biking and a famous and iconic trials bike destination.
My personal view is we have too much signage cluttering our road sides and whats a breath taking viewing platform if its stuck onto the scenery we are trying to protect.  Cruise ships visiting Fort William, maybe but I dont see it.  As for better water access.  We have old ferry slips and a huge coastline along with a very good access code so this is another non starter.  A marina for loch Lhinnie, who for?  A very good pontoon system is at Glencoe, and Fort William could benefit from a similar low cost project.  A marina though?  I dont think so. We are just barely scraping through a near triple dip recession.  Yachts are not selling and frankly are a luxury item unless you are really serious. Who's boats will be bobbing about in the marina?  

Cuil Bay Duror.  Plenty access to the water here!  Duror and Appin are fantastic places to stay with in easy reach of Glencoe and Oban.  Oban - the town that faces the sea, not with it's back to it.
At the Discover Glencoe AGM we are asked what Plan B was if the BID process was rejected.  My Plan B take is that we ignore Plan A (BID) as its devisive and will polarise opinion.  We live in a fantastic area with great natural beauty as a resource.  What we need to help the area is for folks to stay longer and in my opnion we need more for families. I find that my family activities package such as geocaching and personalised maps help.  Again though our mom & pop business is under fire as others with more resources try and squeeze us out. Competing unless there are cups on the table isn't what we are about as we are passionate cyclists not business development types.  

While we wonder about getting more trade then what's happening about key trade thats been lost?  Folk may have noticed a huge drop in the numbers of cyclists on the A82.  That's because the CTC and the many forums are advising folks not to do the JOGLE (john o' groats to lands end) or LEJOG on the A82 as its too dangerous and unfriendly to cyclists.  That includes charity rides. So a few hundred bed nights gone and not much of an advert for an area that purportes to by an outdoor destination, especially as cycling as now the number one growth outdoor sport in the UK.
Ballachulish. A cracking village that deserves a bigger co-op!

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