Inverclyde Tourist Group

The Group
The Inverclyde Tourist Group, made up of local residents, has been operating since 2001 and in that time has gained local and national recognition. The group provides tours for passengers from cruise ships calling at Greenock and also carries out research and produces information about the heritage of Inverclyde.  The groups welcomes new members committed to, and interested in, sharing what Inverclyde has to offer.  From the outset the Inverclyde Tourist Group has recognised the importance of working in partnership with other stakeholders involved in tourism and heritage in Inverclyde.

What were they trying to achieve?
In 2003, Inverclyde Tourist Group successfully applied for SCARF funding to undertake research that would inform its development.  The aims were to find out more about visitors' interestes and expectations, and to learn from other places about the development of port tourism.

How did they go about it?
Over a period of 18 months the group undertook the following research:

  • A survey of 170 visitors to Inverclyde to establish why they came and what they would like to see
  • A follow-up analysis of 900-plus feedback sheets from 2300 cruise ship passengers who took the coach tours to establish what they liked
  • A questionnaire survey and follow-up visits to heritage projects throughout the UK from which Inverclyde could learn
  • A survey of Port Authorities to establish the existence of other voluntary groups similar to the Inverclyde Tourist Group and to develop a network of ports and groups to share information with

What did they learn?

  • Inverclyde Tourist Group is in the forefront of volunteer led tourist services in the expanding cruise ship market
  • Inverclyde already experiences economic benefit from cruise ship calls and this is likely to increase
  • A signigicant number of cruise liner passengers expressed their intention to return to Scotland and to Inverclyde
  • Cruise passengers display increasing independence and about 20% do not want to be tied to a ship's tour itinerary
  • All ports contacted expressed an interest in participating in the exchange of information
  • All ports agreed on the importance of getting tourist information to passengers about their own and other ports of call
  • The majority of non-cruise visitors from within a 50-mile radius visit for a day or less and will return several times within the year
  • Visitors who come to Inverclyde are attracted because of the natural beauty of the area
  • Most heritage centres use volunteers to enhance their services
  • Local visitors would welcome a signed waterfront walkway
  • All visitors look for more information about the area both prior to and during their visit

The key recommendations from the research were:

  • Establish a regular exchange of information between ports
  • Encourage other ports of call to involve volunteers to complement the work of tourism professionals, where these exist
  • Make available to others the experience of Inverclyde Tourist Group in this area
  • Highlight to local businesses and authorities the undoubted economic benefits of cruise tourism
  • Signed riverside walkway to be put in place
  • Volunteers to be involved in planning and working in partnership with others
  • Promotion of sporting facilities as a tourist attraction
  • Plan towards the 2009 Year of Homecoming to develop a central role for Inverclyde

What difference did it make?
As a result of the project, members of the Inverclyde Tourist Group enhanced a range of relevant skills including guiding, public speaking, research, report writing and administration. 

Following the research, Inverclyde Tourist Group organised an international conference Cruise Communities: Opportunities and Challenges in Greenock in September 2005, in conjunction with Inverclyde Council, Scottish Enterprise Renfrewshire and Communities Scotland.  The conference aimed to foster co-operation and share knowledge among cruise ship port communities; to explore the potential of both volunteers and professionals working to achieve common goals; to demonstrate the social and economic advantages local communities can gain from cruise ships; to develop a closer understanding of the expectations of cruise visitors; and to explore the potential benefits of establishing a network of cruise ports.

Contact
Inverclyde Tourist Group
Craigend Resource Centre
MacLeod Street
Greenock
Email:  inverclydetouristgroup@hotmail.com