Kilsyth is an historic town with a fascinating and dramatic past, major scenic advantages and an enterprising populace.
Over the past ten years, Kilsyth Community Council developed a tourism strategy in order to encourage the development of existing and new leisure business in the area. The key elements of the strategy are to:
Due to limited space, KCC restricted invitations to people from the business community, politicians, senior officials, and community representatives. Their original intention was to restrict numbers to forty, in order to encourage an informal atmosphere and free dialogue. In practice over eighty people attended, but with careful programming, the event was unpressured and enjoyable, with plenty of free time to network with colleagues.
Organisation was kept simple, with a small project group from the Community Council and a reference group representing three key interests: North Lanarkshire Council, Scottish Enterprise, and British Waterways. KCC obtained sponsorship from Scottish Enterprise for the catering costs, and NLC was very helpful in many other respects, including transport, magnificent floral displays, and expert audio-visual technical support.
The format for the morning was to start with presentations by key speakers, followed by optional coach trips, local walks, and static displays. KCC were able to secure the services of a number of excellent speakers, including Jim Stirling, Director of British Waterways, David Porch, Director of Planning, NLC, and Professor Catherine Ward Thompson, Director of Research for Environmental Studies, Edinburgh College of Art. Brian Thompson, of the Conservation and Greening unit, NLC gave a fascinating insight into the natural history of Kilsyth, whilst John Gordon, a local historian, took us through the major historical events that have shaped the town since the Roman Legionnaires were stationed on the Antonine wall.
In the afternoon four MSPs from the major parties gave presentations on their vision for the future of tourism development.
The conference clearly achieved the objectives set, with many participants giving very positive feedback. For the organisers, the hard work has only started. Some of the ideas generated for further discussion include:
There are already two ambitious plans under discussion for commercial mixed tourism and leisure development, including golf, recreation, canal marina, chalet and hotel developments. The key planning issue is likely to be the balance between the desire for improved facilities, access for people with disabilities, jobs, and visitor numbers, with the need to protect and sustain the high quality environment that already exists. Planning has a vital part to play in striking the right balance between commercial exploitation and community interests.
Photo (right) 6th April 2001: Kilsyth Community Council brought together elected members of all major parties, from both Scottish and Westminster Parliaments, together with distinguished guests, to seek support for our tourism strategy.
Tourism Meeting - Coachman Hotel - November 20th 2001
"Sustainable Development - The Way Forward"
20 November 2001 - Kilsyth Community Council hosted another successful tourism conference, this time at the Coachman Hotel, and open to all interested residents. The panel included Cathie Craigie MSP, David Porch, Director of Planning, North Lanarkshire Council, John Halpin of Town Centre Initiatives, and Councillor Francis Griffin.
"Scotland needs a modern, dynamic, innovative tourist image" said Mrs. Craigie. "Nationally it is worth £2.5 Billion, and provides 180,000 jobs. Kilsyth is ideally placed in the centre of Scotland. The Scottish executive is now recognising the value of tourism to the economy, with new initiatives planned."
Mr Porch said that: "We want to encourage as many people as possible to visit Kilsyth." Discussions are going on about developing a canalside marina and visitor facilities, and whilst it would be a mistake to spoil the Kelvin valley through building houses, this did not mean new tourist developments are ruled out.
John Halpin said that the Council did not own the properties in the town centre, but had invested significant funds. Traders had to take some responsibility for stimulating new business.
A wide ranging question and answer session followed the formal presentations. Some of the many points raised were:
After the meeting, Mrs Craigie MSP told the Chronicle: "Kilsyth Community Council have shown a real commitment to working to promote the qualities of Kilsyth and the surrounding areas. I hope as a result of their initiative, to work with them and the local authority to further their ideas and ambitions to attract more tourists to the area".
Kilsyth Community Council welcomes all inquiries from interested parties, and can be contacted by email at email@example.com