Looking back on a memorable year

Jim Clarkson, VisitScotland regional director
Jim Clarkson, VisitScotland regional director

As the year draws to a close, VisitScotland regional director Jim Clarkson has been reflecting on a memorable twelve months for tourism in Angus and Dundee.

Innovative new attractions such as the Oor Wullie Bucket Trail have helped to make 2016 a ground-breaking year for tourism in the regions.

Jim Clarkson, VisitScotland regional director, said: “Evidence suggests that Angus has enjoyed one of the busiest tourism years in recent memory with attractions such as the Discovery Point and Verdant Works among a number of businesses reporting an increase in visitor numbers in 2016.

“A major contributing factor to this boost in numbers has been the introduction of direct flights between Dundee and Amsterdam, connecting the region with one of the world’s busiest aviation hubs. Launched in May, the new route from Flybe has ensured that Dundee, and the surrounding area, is more connected than ever before – giving us a louder voice within key markets.

“VisitScotland are working closely with businesses in Dundee and the wider region to help build demand for the new service and we hope that operational issues, that have been experienced recently, are resolved swiftly.

“The hugely popular Oor Wullie’s Bucket Trail has also been a success story from this year’s tourism season, capturing the imagination of locals and visitors in Dundee while also proving to be a huge hit across Scotland too.”

“The innovative attraction was also one of many events which embraced the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design. From jute to digital design, the year-long programme has shone a spotlight on Angus’ greatest assets and icons, as well as our hidden gems.”

Launched in late June, Oor Wullie’s Bucket Trail, brought the streets of Dundee to life this summer with 70 giant Oor Wullie sculptures displayed across the city while 15 touring Oor Wullies, including VisitScotland’s ‘ScotSpirit Wullie’, spent ten weeks visiting cities across Scotland.

Over 70,000 locals and visitors are estimated to have taken part in the public art event over the summer, either by picking up one of the bucket trail maps or by downloading the Oor Wullie Bucket Trail app.

The trail is also said to have been a contributing factor to a boost in footfall at the Dundee VisitScotland iCentre with visitor numbers up by over 24 per cent compared to the same time last year and retail sales up by 45 per cent between June 27 and August 17.

The sculptures went on to be sold at an action at the Rep Theatre in Dundee, raising a staggering £883,000 for The ARCHIE Foundation.

Dundee and Angus played a starring role in the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design with events taking place throughout the year. Dundee also hosted the grand finale of the Festival of Architecture, a headline event of the year, in November.

This year has also seen a shift in the nature of information provision take place across Dundee and Angus. While VisitScotland iCentre’s remain at the heart of information delivery the national tourism organisation have also been working to harness the spirit of a nation to share our inspirational stories and experiences, marketing Scotland with Scotland.

Entitled ‘iKnow Scotland’, the new online and face-to-face community gives businesses, industry and visitors the tools to enable them to share the Spirit of Scotland with others.

The two new ‘iKnow Scotland’ initiatives, VisitScotland Information Partners (VIP) and the online Scotland community, launched earlier this year and Dundee & Angus are already playing an active role in both.

Jim added: “Next year also looks set to be a great year for tourism in the region, with some fantastic projects on the horizon. With our world-renowned history and knowledgeable and passionate tourism industry, Dundee and Angus is poised to take great advantage of Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for being fantastic ambassadors for Dundee and Angus throughout the year and I look forward to us working together again to make 2017 our most successful yet. Have a happy festive season and a wonderful new year.”