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By Hugh Boag
Businesses on Arran believe a new tourism initiative can help the island become a year-round attraction.
The season has already been stretched far beyond its previous reach, with the island still busy at the end of October.
The new initiative, known as The Coig – Five Scottish Routes. One Great Adventure, is being seen as the ideal online tool to attract visitors over the winter.
Gaelic for five, The Coig is a series of five tourist routes covering Arran, Bute, Cumbrae and mainland Ayrshire offering people an exciting new way to explore the unique coast and countryside on their doorstep.
Each route has been specially designed to showcase the outstanding natural beauty, history and heritage and food and drink, as well the wide range of outdoor and family activities on offer across the region. Visitors can follow a choice of routes as part of a day trip from Glasgow or Edinburgh, or as a longer staycation experience.
The regional tourism leadership group for The Coig is made up of key tourism industry representatives from the public and private sector and members of national tourism organisations. The group has now set out its plans for the region’s new tourism initiative and how to best maximise this new development to add value to businesses, visitors and rural communities.
One of the those backing The Coig is co-founder and managing director of Auchrannie Resort, Linda Johnston.
She told the Banner: ‘As we enter the autumn and winter months, we’re now gearing up to showcase the best winter walks, weekend drives and cycling trails and wonderful food and drink available across each of our five routes. Authentic Scottish hospitality and a warm welcome awaits everyone to the region and we can’t wait get started.’
And in a boost for the initiative, it has attracted Formula One presenter Lee McKenzie to take pole position as the official ambassador for new campaign.
Linda added: ‘We’re really lucky to have Lee on board to help drive forward this exciting new campaign for Ayrshire, Firth of Clyde and Clyde Islands. Lee’s personal affinity with the region, local knowledge and special sense of adventure makes her a perfect ambassador for The Coig.’
Born and bred in Alloway, near Ayr, Lee is one of the most recognised faces on the nation’s TV screens, having presented Formula One over the last decade. Lee also presents Channel 4’s rugby and Paralympic coverage and has covered the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and Wimbledon for the BBC.
As part of her new role with The Coig, Lee hopes to reinvigorate people’s interest in the region as a top choice for outdoor adventure, healthy activity and fun, family days out.
Lee said: ‘I was born and raised in this area and it holds so many happy memories for me, so I’m really proud to help people get out and active across the region this autumn, winter and beyond.’
Gordon Smith, VisitScotland regional director, added: ‘The timing of this new initiative is particularly apt as we prepare to celebrate the Year of Coasts and Waters 2020. This year-long programme of events and activities will shine a spotlight on these vital elements of our landscape.’
Councillor Alex Gallagher, cabinet member for economy at North Ayrshire Council, said: ‘The Coig is a fantastic new tourism initiative which will support businesses and communities by helping to boost visitor numbers into our towns and villages. It’s an exciting time as we near the launch and this campaign will put Ayrshire on the map nationally and internationally, showcasing the beauty and diversity of our countryside, coast and islands.’
For more information on The Coig visit www.thecoig.com or email email@example.com. People can also follow The Coig on social media.