Bringing tourism best practice to the Tweed Valley

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Representatives from more than 20 local tourism-related businesses gathered at the Union Club, Innerleithen last week to learn more about how best tourism practice from elsewhere in the world can inform plans for the Tweed Valley Tourism Business Improvement District (BID).

Hosted by Emma Guy, Project Coordinator for the Tweed Valley Tourism BID, the evening saw presentations from Ed Shoote, Scottish Cycling’s Tweed Valley Mountain Bike Coordinator, and Gordo Hodge, Team Director of Adrenalin Rehab Bike Holidays. Although both come very much from biking – and in Gordo’s case also snowsports – backgrounds, the presentations were very much about how destinations can create well-rounded tourism products that appeal to a broad range of interests.

Ed, who is also a widely-published cycling journalist and bikepacking adventurer, highlighted a recent visit to Park City in Utah, USA, where he was hosted as part of a media fam trip. As Ed revealed, he expected the trip to be all about bikes, but was instead also treated to many of the area’s other attractions, from great food and drink to live music, fly fishing, horse riding and road cycling.  

His presentation reflected on the many similarities between Park City and the Tweed Valley – not least in terms of terrain, size, proximity to a major airport and the wide range of activities and attractions available. And like the Tweed Valley, Park City is a place that has grown considerably over the past decade, attracting an audience that likes to experience the outdoors in a variety of different ways.

“One of the biggest things that struck me about the trip was what a joined-up offer they had,” explained Ed. “The quality of the bike trails is there for all to see, but they are tied in closely with everything else that is available and the whole culture of the place. It works really well.”

It’s a theme that was continued by Gordo Hodge who discussed his experience of building tourism packages in countries such as Italy and Canada, before outlining why he thought the Tweed Valley bore close comparison to such destinations. Gordo also explained the great appeal of the area and the reasons for bringing his company, which includes the Adrenalin Uplift service at Innerleithen and Glentress, to the Tweed Valley.

“It’s an area with everything,” he said. “Packaged right, and with solid branding, the Tweed Valley could grow to become another of the world’s outstanding destinations for outdoor activities. That’s what the area is good at. I’d say, play to your strengths and build from there.”

And this is exactly where the Tweed Valley Tourism BID will come in, explained Emma as part of the lively Q&A that followed. “I’d like to thank all the businesses who attended, and for all the feedback given,” she said. “It’s exactly this kind of close consultation with tourism businesses that will help shape the BID and, ultimately, enable us to realise the potential of the Tweed Valley to become a world-leading tourism destination.”

Rich Rowe