Scotland’s tourism boss dived into a marine science lesson at SAMS yesterday (Tuesday) during a visit to the institute's Ocean Explorer Centre, his first regional visit of 2020 - Scotland's Year of Coasts and Waters.
Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland chief executive, visited Oban as part of his annual ‘listening tour’ to gauge opinion within the tourism sector and stopped off at the outreach and visitor centre.
Dr Anuschka Miller, head of communications at SAMS showed Mr Roughead the centre’s exhibits and explained how SAMS research is helping to discover more about the oceans and the changing climate. They were joined by David Adams McGilp, regional director for Argyll, West Dunbartonshire and East Dunbartonshire.
Mr Roughead said: “It was a pleasure to visit the Ocean Explorer Centre and learn more about the SAMS' research on our oceans. It was particularly apt as we celebrate the Year of Coasts and Waters 2020, a year-long programme of events and activities which will shine a spotlight on these vital elements of our landscape.
“Visitor attractions like the Ocean Explorer Centre have a real opportunity to capitalise on this themed year and ensure the benefits of tourism are felt across the local area. People can often look at tourism in a one-dimensional way but it touches all facets of the community. It is a powerful economic driver and in Argyll & the Isles the GDP delivered through the tourism industry is one of the highest in Scotland.”
This was the tenth event in the chief executive’s 2019/2020 listening tour. Mr Roughead explained the listening tour gave him the opportunity to hear from those working in the industry. The information gathered forms a report that aims to highlight common issues and perhaps identify solutions that may be applicable to multiple areas.
During the Oban visit, Mr Roughead also met with representatives of Argyll and Bute Council and the Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative.
Dr Miller said: “It was a pleasure to host Mr Roughead at the beginning of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters. He was very interested in the Ocean Explorer Centre, which is our base for outreach work, as well as a visitor attraction.
“In 2020 we will host two major marine science conferences, bringing hundreds of delegates to Oban and May 23rd and 24th will mark the return of our Festival of the Sea.
“We hope that people across Scotland will use events this year to engage more with our coasts and ocean environment ahead of Glasgow hosting the COP26 climate change conference in November.”
The Ocean Explorer Centre, which provides a snapshot of the research underway at SAMS, welcomed more than 7,000 visitors in 2019. Free to visit, the centre exists to educate people about the ocean environment.