Attracting 250,000 more visitors per annum and positioning Stirling as an “economic and cultural powerhouse” is at the heart of Stirling’s ambitious City Region Deal.
In order to truly drive this ambition, Stirling’s new Tourism and Events Strategy will set out a clear direction for building Stirling’s international profile as a successful tourist and events destination, and will play a vital role in contributing to the growth of the city over the next 10 years.
To deliver this strategy, Stirling has prioritised the positioning of its cultural tourism offer, with the creation of key heritage developments, including the £8.9 million construction of the Engine Shed. This restoration project transformed a disused shed in the Forthside area of the city into Scotland’s Centre for Building Conservation, and is home to Historic Scotland’s Digital Documentation team. The Engine Shed has attracted over 6,000 visitors since opening in July 2017.
Digital innovation plays a central role in developing fantastic tourism products in Stirling for UK and international markets. As a result, interactive Smart Screens are being installed right across the Stirling area, providing a powerful way of engaging with tourists and residents, improving their experience with real-time information about attractions, providing discounts at local hotspots, making suggestions about their travel plans and providing opportunities for businesses in the Stirling area to advertise. The Smart Screens are also designed to deliver “access for all” by offering information in a variety of languages and supporting people with disabilities, a feature will be available from the end of October. At present the Smart Screens are located in Mar Place and Friars Street, and once fully deployed in key locations throughout the city and rural areas, the Smart Screens will provide a wide ranging communications network.
The Smart Screens are already proving to be popular with visitors to Stirling. Holly Jebb and Harriet Weedman, Australia, said: “The digital interactive visitor screen really helped us find our way around beautiful Stirling, allowing us to find some gorgeous places we wouldn’t have known about. It also helped us find a great place for lunch.”
“Super user-friendly for all ages and abilities.”
Stirling’s focus on digital and interactive technology, to encourage both tourists and residents to explore not only Stirling, but Scotland as a whole, will continue with the development of an ‘Explore Stirling’ App. The App will highlight the abundance of walking and cycling routes in Stirling and the surrounding rural area, to encourage residents and tourists to get out there and see them first hand. The App will also feature audio to provide descriptions of key attractions, and provide an opportunity for local businesses to promote themselves by being listed for free on the App.
Councillor Margaret Brisley, Convener of the Finance and Economy Committee, Stirling Council, said: "Through strong partnership working and collaboration with local and national partners, the City Region Deal and our Tourism and Events Strategy will continue to build Stirling's international profile over the next 10 years and support the creation of thousands of new jobs in the city, while delivering a clear message to our priority UK and international markets that Stirling is a must visit destination.
“As one of Europe's most vibrant and popular destinations, Stirling is recognised as a dynamic city in which to live, work, study, invest, and visit, and is already delivering on its ambition to be an “economic and cultural powerhouse”.
Councillor Brisley added: "Tourism is a key driver of economic success in Stirling supporting 3,841 jobs in 2016 and generating nearly £218 million in Economic impact.
"Tourism is more than a holiday experience; it creates jobs and sustains communities in every corner of Scotland all year round and is at the heart of the Scottish economy.
“Our new brand Stirling: Alive with Scotland illustrates that Stirling is full of everything that makes Scotland great: its natural beauty, history, ingenuity, the warmth of its people, and the opportunities it offers. It will provide the perfect opportunity to showcase our unrivalled products and experiences, which will inspire tourists and deliver compelling reasons to visit Stirling and Scotland in the years to come.”