The Loch Earn Tourism Initiative, the destination marketing organisation which has integrated and boosted micro-businesses in one of Scotland's most diverse scenic areas, is to host an industry group from Northern Ireland seeking to emulate its successful collaborative model.
Backed by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund, and co-ordinated by Edinburgh consultancy Business Tourism Solutions, the public-private delegation involves Down District Council, Ards Borough Council, Banbridge Council, and Newry & Mourne District Council, as well as representatives from marketing groups Destination Strangford Lough and Destination Mourne. The visitors to Scotland are seeking "to learn how they can grow their businesses working with tour operators to attract more out-of-state and overseas visitors".
Mark Mohan of Down District Council, which is leading the 12-month Grow Your Horizons project, said: "This project is about helping 60 tourism businesses here in Northern Ireland gear themselves up to marketing to visitors from elsewhere in Ireland, from the UK and overseas.
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"We wanted to investigate where tourism operators have successfully collaborated and marketed themselves, and rural tourism businesses in central Scotland were an obvious choice.
"Here, our businesses will meet like-minded businesses in tourism and hospitality, and learn lessons they can apply back home."
Kim Proven, marketing leader and chair of the Loch Earn Tourism Initiative (LETI), now comprising over 40 rural businesses, said: "I was delighted to be asked to speak tomorrow at the closing dinner for our Irish visitors on this leg of their Grow Your Horizons programme.
"Our rural group thrives on collaboration locally and with tourism partners from public and private sectors. We are very happy to share stories about our 20-year journey and how we are evolving."
The Northern Irish delegation will also visit a number of businesses from the LETI area, which incorporates Highland Perthshire, the Trossachs and Breadalbane.
LETI businesses have a combined turnover of £6.35 million in an area with just 900 inhabitants.
The group promotes local information, history and services, accommodation, food, outdoor activities, and events via social media and PR, and its website www.robroycountry.com.