The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Friday, 27 December 2013

Scotland ready to welcome the world

Tourism industry to benefit from bumper year of activity

Scotland’s tourism industry is set to benefit from a multi-million boost during 2014 as the country takes to the global stage, playing host to the Commonwealth Games, Ryder Cup, MTV Europe Music Awards (EMA) and Scotland’s second year of Homecoming.


The Commonwealth Games will be the biggest sporting and cultural event Scotland has ever hosted and, with over 90 per cent of available public tickets already sold, the early demand has not only exceeded all expectations, it has surpassed all previous Commonwealth Games. The legacy of the Games is already being felt with around 30,000 jobs supported as a result of Glasgow 2014 procurement. 

Around 75 per cent of contracts for the Games have gone to Scottish firms, generating around £250 million for the economy. This is in addition to £1 billion worth of transport infrastructure which is helping to open up Glasgow and West Central Scotland to further economic opportunities.

The Ryder Cup is due to attract more than 250,000 spectators over the course of the week, with Homecoming 2014 expected to bring in around 70,000 visitors and at least £44m in additional economic benefit to Scotland. The MTV EMA will also showcase Glasgow and Scotland to nearly 700 million households through MTV’s global network of channels. 


Hogmanay celebrations in Edinburgh (pictured above), Stirling, Stonehaven, Biggar and Inverness will kick off the Year of Homecoming, with other key events throughout the year including the John Muir Festival that will involve countless communities in a celebration of this great Scot’s life and legacy; the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn in June and the Highland Homecoming, celebrating contemporary Highland culture, including the Inverness Highland Meeting, Masters World Championships and culminating with Mòd Nàiseanta Rìoghail - The Royal National Mòd. 

Tourism Minister, Fergus Ewing said: “During 2014 we will see two of the world’s biggest showcase sporting events and one of the world’s biggest showcase music events coming to Scotland as well as our second Year of Homecoming. 

“The momentous year in Scottish history will not only position us on the international stage as a dynamic and creative country, it will also significantly boost our already buoyant tourism sector. 

“Every tourism event attracts a potential new business or leisure guest – and provides more jobs and investment. We are already seeing the benefit of this through the 30,000 jobs supported as a result of the Commonwealth Games. 

“The legacy of the Commonwealth Games, Ryder Cup, MTV EMA and Homecoming 2014 will also be felt for years to come through the boost the events will give to the Scottish economy, through the local jobs created and through the improved infrastructure created. 

“Our vision is for a world class tourism experience. This is why the Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2014 has named Scotland as the third best country to visit in 2014 citing Scotland’s jam-packed schedule of world-class events as reasons to visit in the coming year. 

“CNN also included Edinburgh in its list of ‘Ten Best Cities for a Winter Vacation’, an accolade which recognises that Edinburgh has a great deal to offer visitors all year round – from its stunning vistas to its diverse range of historic and interesting attractions.

“2014 is a chance of a lifetime for everyone – from taxi drivers and shop assistants to hoteliers and restaurateurs – to play their part in extending the warmest welcome to guests from near and far.

“We will continue to work with VisitScotland and our enterprise agencies to build on this growth throughout 2014 and beyond.”


Monday, 23 December 2013

James takes the helm at Ayr Renaissance

An Ayrshire man who was instrumental in the campaign to save Dumfries House has been appointed Chair of Ayr Renaissance – the regeneration company established by South Ayrshire Council to deliver regeneration activity within Ayr town centre.


James Knox (pictured above), who has served on the Ayr Renaissance board since 2009, takes up the position – which had been filled on a temporary basis over the last ten months by fellow Ayr Renaissance board member Evelyn McCann – with immediate effect.

James was born and brought up in Ayrshire – where his family have been rooted for many generations – and has known Ayr all his life. He has a degree in art history from Cambridge University and a Master of Business Administration from the international business school, INSEAD. His career has been spent as a publisher, writer and arts consultant and he is currently managing director of The Art Newspaper, the bible of the international art world. Although his job takes him all over the world, James continues to live at his family home near Coylton. 

In 2007, he launched the campaign in Scotland to save Dumfries House, arguing from the start that saving Dumfries House would act as the key to the regeneration of Cumnock and Auchinleck. Overcoming enormous obstacles – and with the backing of the Prince of Wales – the campaigners raised £45 million in three months and the house and estate were saved for the nation. James remains a trustee of the house and estate, which has become a model for cultural regeneration in action. He is also a trustee of the National Trust for Scotland and of the Boswell Trust, a charity set up by him and his wife to assist in the regeneration of Auchinleck through the restoration of biographer, James Boswell’s mausoleum in Auchinleck churchyard, and the staging of the annual Boswell Book Festival at Auchinleck House, which has attracted star authors and actors. 

James’s business career has been spent turning round independent publishing companies with troubled financial histories, most notably the Spectator magazine (the oldest publication in Britain). This has required a hard- headed business sense as well as the ability to generate ideas and think creatively. As an art consultant, he has worked for the Royal Collection, and commissioned a sculpture park for the Boots company round their factories in Nottingham, which was the largest private millennium commission in Britain. 

James has written a number of books, including the biography of the great architectural campaigner and travel writer, Robert Byron, and most recently The Scottish Country House (published in the UK and US) which features Dumfries House. 

Councillor Bill McIntosh, Leader of South Ayrshire Council and a member of the Ayr Renaissance board, said: “I’m delighted James has been appointed as the second Chair of Ayr Renaissance and look forward to working with him in his new role. James has a wealth of skills, knowledge and experience, which I have no doubt we can all benefit from, and make full use of, to achieve what we want for Ayr town centre.

“It’s a really exciting time for the town with lots of positive and productive partnership working developing between Renaissance, the Council, town centre retailers and the local community and James’s drive, passion and ambition will take all of that to the next level.

“On behalf of the board and the Council, my thanks to Evelyn for steering things along over the last few months, and our congratulations to James on becoming Chair. I look forward to working with James, Evelyn, the rest of the board, local elected members and the people and businesses of this great town to help ensure we do what we can to help it achieve its full potential.” 

Following the confirmation of his appointment, James Knox said: “I have known and loved Ayr all my life. It is one of the most handsome towns in the south west of Scotland, and yet, in recent years it has suffered a sad decline, like many town centres across Britain.

“Ayr has so much going for it – a fascinating history peopled with the likes of Wallace, Bruce and Burns, a tempting collection of specialist shops and cosy cafés,  a wonderful sea front with breathtaking views, and so much more. 

“In leading Ayr Renaissance, I want us to think creatively and learn from the successes of other towns with similar problems. Above all, we must come up with answers inspired by Ayr itself and find a way to tap into the energy and ideas of the towns people themselves, who are truly passionate about the future of Ayr.

“I do not underestimate the challenge, and do not want to raise false hopes, but Ayr needs to reclaim its role as the jewel in the crown of the old county of Ayrshire – rising again as a vibrant town brimming with activities and businesses that are the pride and joy of its inhabitants. That’s the lasting transformation I want Ayr Renaissance to work towards and that’s what I want to help us achieve.”

South Ayrshire Council is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.