Tourism group appoints first chief executive in ‘exciting’ new chapter

Cathy Craig is taking on the newly created role of chief executive at AITC.
Cathy Craig is taking on the newly created role of chief executive at AITC.

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A tourism organisation which works locally and nationally to promote Argyll and the Isles as a ‘must visit’ destination has announced the ‘significant appointment’ of its first chief executive.

Argyll and Isles Tourism Co-operative (AITC) has appointed Cathy Craig to take on the newly created role which, it says, marks the beginning of an ‘exciting chapter’ for the destination management organisation.

Cathy, who has more than 20 years’ experience with highly skilled roles in marketing and business development, will lead ambitious growth plans to boost visitor numbers to the area, building upon the strong Wild About Argyll brand.

She has played a key role in AITC in recent years following a four-year stint as volunteer director and has been on the board of VisitScotland for six years, bringing great experience of national strategy and an understanding of the challenges for Scotland.

Cathy was born in Manchester and sees herself as an ‘adopted Scot’ having lived in Scotland for eight years with her Scottish husband and sons.

She has a wealth of experience from her commercial and marketing director roles at CalMac and ScotRail and, most recently, four years as commercial director at Entrepreneurial Scotland.

Now living in Inverclyde, she is very passionate about the area.

Cathy is considered a positive changemaker, working collaboratively with others, naturally customer-focussed and always in pursuit of the mutual outcomes required.

She said: ‘I am very proud to have been selected to lead AITC’s ambitious delivery plans over the coming years.

‘My passion to see Scotland succeed economically and socially, combined with my deep affection for Argyll and the isles, equips me with the drive needed to deliver in this role.

‘I’ll be joining an amazing team and working with our many supportive partners to realise our collective goals.

‘Covid-19 has had a major impact on the tourism sector and, looking forward, I’m excited to work with the vibrant destination management organisations and businesses across Argyll and the isles to identify opportunities to bring back our much-missed visitors and to support business leaders to achieve their own ambitions.

‘My vision is to drive activity, which is not only recovery-focused, but opens up new opportunities for collaborative working across the region, resulting in positioning Argyll and the isles as the ‘must visit’ destination.

‘We can do this by building capability and capacity within our industry and underpinning that activity with financially sustainable funding.

‘It’s imperative that we collectively shift our thinking and actions to responsible tourism; we must consider the needs of our industry and visitors and the impact on our environment and communities in all that we do going forward.’

AITC is already a strategically important destination management organisation in Scotland with an enviable track record of high profile, successfully delivered products and campaigns which has supported £364 million direct visitor spend across Argyll and the isles, according to a report for Global Tourism Solutions Ltd.

The co-operative is working its way through a busy delivery period to make the most of the summer season and beyond.

Iain Jurgensen, AITC chairman, has welcomed the appointment.

‘On behalf of board of directors of AITC, I am delighted to be able to announce the appointment of Cathy Craig to the newly-created position of chief executive,’ he said.

‘Cathy’s appointment marks the start of a new journey for tourism in Argyll and the isles.

‘Her appointment underlines the ambition, mission and vision the board has for tourism in the region, positioning itself as Scotland’s ‘adventure coast’.

‘The board wishes Cathy every success in this new and exciting role.’

The role is funded for three years by HIE to support strategically important tourism destination management organisations, as part of wider support for the sector’s recovery.

By the end of the three years, AITC will look to have established financial sustainability for the organisation.