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Talking Tourism in Renfrewshire

Chamber News, Member News 21st October 2019

VisitScotland Chairman Lord Thurso was in Renfrewshire on Thursday 17th October where he met the region’s local tourism industry.

Lord Thurso attended the Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce’s October Networking Lunch at the Glynhill Hotel in Renfrew. This was followed by a tour of Paisley Museum, currently undergoing a £42m re-design and is set to re-open in 2022. He observed the development work before he met with key players in the region’s tourism industry at the University of West of Scotland’s Paisley Campus.

The national tourism organisation’s Chair joined VisitScotland Regional Director Gordon Smith, along with members of the Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce, Renfrewshire Council and local tourism stakeholders on an exclusive tour where they could observe the progress and learn more about what the attraction will offer.

The museum is being transformed into an international-class venue housing the town’s outstanding collections and bringing to the life the stories of the town, its people and the world-famous Paisley Pattern. The revamped museum is expected to attract 125,000 visits a year, almost four times the numbers it experienced before the re-development began.

The Chamber of Commerce lunch was attended by 70 members of the area’s tourism industry. Lord Thurso gave a speech about his experiences in tourism, 50 years of VisitScotland and what the future holds for Renfrewshire and the rest of Scotland. This was followed by a Q&A session before everyone sat down to lunch.

Lord Thurso also walked through the town centre where he was able to view the Spiegeltent, the main venue for The Spree, Paisley’s annual arts and culture festival. It is one of Paisley’s signature events that attracts visitors from out with the region, alongside the award-winning Paisley Halloween Festival, which is supported by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.

He also had the opportunity to observe The Secret Collection, the first publicly accessible museum store on a UK high street, and the site of the Paisley Learning and Cultural Hub – a modern facility housing library services due to open in a formerly-empty High St unit in 2021.

VisitScotland Chairman Lord Thurso, said: “This was a valuable opportunity to talk tourism with local businesses, stakeholders and the Chamber of Commerce. Renfrewshire displays real ambition in its drive for tourism and VisitScotland is delighted to be working with such strong and committed partners.

“We want to champion collaboration, promote local areas and events and ensure that tourism is recognised for the positive impact it brings to Renfrewshire and the rest of Scotland.”

Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson said: “I was delighted to be able to help welcome Lord Thurso to Paisley, and for him to be able to hear more about the work happening to build on the area’s fast-growing reputation as one of Scotland’s must-see visitor destinations.

“Paisley is connected to the world with superb transport links, a unique historic story and a collection of listed buildings second only to Edinburgh.

“The area is already seeing visitor numbers on the rise, including the 160,000 attendees a year to our programme of major events, such as The Spree festival, happening in the town just now.

“That will only grow in the years ahead with the multi-million-pound programme of investment in Paisley’s venues and outdoor spaces, including the £42m transformation of Paisley Museum into a world-class destination showing off our unique and internationally-significant collections.

“All of the above will continue to bring visitors into Paisley and Renfrewshire from throughout Scotland, the UK and abroad, and we are delighted to be working closely with VisitScotland to harness the benefits of that for all involved.”

Bob Grant, Chief Executive for Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “We were delighted to welcome Lord Thurso as our guest speaker. To have high profile leadership focusing attention on the visitor economy in Renfrewshire highlights the crucial role our businesses have in expanding the sector. With VisitScotland’s support and strong partnership our companies can upskill, raise their digital presence and take advantage of the growing profile of Renfrewshire as an exciting destination of choice.”

Lord Thurso was appointed as VisitScotland Chairman in 2016 having already gained a huge amount of experience in the tourism industry. At 27 he became Europe’s youngest Five Star hotel manager as Managing Director of the Savoy Group’s Lancaster Hotel in Paris and then went on to lead a number of hospitality businesses to success including Blakeney Hotels of Cliveden, which became the UK’s highest rated hotel under his leadership.

To learn more about VisitScotland’s Chairman, go to www.visitscotland.org/about-us/our-team/chairman

To learn more about tourism in Paisley and Renfrewshire, go to www.paisley.is

To learn more about Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce, go to www.renfrewshirechamber.com

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