Stargazing, food and drink festivals, farmers markets and marine tourism could help attract thousands of extra visitors to the Ayrshire coast, under plans put forward by students from Glasgow Caledonian University.
Students, on tourism, events, fashion and marketing courses, were tasked with generating ideas to boost visitor numbers to Ballantrae and the Isle of Cumbrae, as part of a live industry project.
They pitched their proposals to representatives from local tourism groups this week.
Ballantrae, a coastal village outside Girvan, could market itself as a food and drinks destination, introduce stargazing experiences, launch a gin festival, and exploit the area’s rich history for smuggling with “dark tourism” guides.
Cumbrae, meanwhile, would benefit from targeting the domestic family market, from highlighting its sites and activities on Instagram, capitalising on marine tourism, and promoting itself online as a dog-friendly environment.
Both areas are set to benefit from a tourism masterplan, partly devised by the Moffat Centre at GCU, which aims to create a coastal touring route, across Ayrshire, the Firth of Clyde and Clyde islands, similar to the Wild Atlantic Way and the North Coast 500.
Andy McAlpine, chair of the Ballantrae Trust, said: “The presentations have been fantastic and have exceeded our expectations.
“If we are serious about becoming a family destination and promoting ourselves as a food and drink destination, we need really good ideas.
“The relationship with GCU throughout this project has been very professional, it has become a real partnership.”
Joan Clark, of the Isle of Cumbrae Tourist Association, said: “Every group had at least one proposal we could take away and use.
“From promoting the island on Instagram to producing holiday itineraries targeting a range of different groups, the suggestions have been enormously helpful. We are launching a new website soon and will be looking at social media, in particular.”
Claire Bereziat, lecturer of International Business and Tourism Management, said: “The standard of work was incredibly high and both clients were delighted with results.
“Projects like this give students invaluable experience of real-world consultancy work.”