Today Mairi Gougeon MSP, the newly appointed Minister for Rural Affairs and Natural Environment offers her thoughts on tourism in the Mearns.
Tourism is one of the largest growing industries in Scotland.
Figures from Visit Scotland last year showed the industry was worth more than £11 Billion to Scotland and has a value of 4.5% of the overall Scottish economy.
Over 200,000 people are employed within the tourism sector and this is continuing to grow, year on year.
We have a beautiful country, friendly people and have much to show off to our visitors.
I believe we have the best of Scotland right on our doorstep here in the Mearns and across Aberdeenshire and Angus.
Unspoiled views of the North Sea coastline, an array of beaches, historic fishing villages, the iconic Dunnottar Castle, friendly people, award-winning restaurants and innovative small businesses.
It’s a great place to live, to work in and to visit.
With a number of agencies and community groups involved in the promotion of tourism in this area, I believe we will see many more people discover our incredible region.
Visit Scotland and Visit Aberdeenshire use the latest digital marketing techniques to promote the North East.
Drone footage of Dunnottar Castle spread rapidly on social media with views of the footage now in excess of 1 million.
There are also other groups working actively to promote the Mearns.
Visit Mearns, a community group chaired by Nigel Taylor, are keen to promote this part of Scotland and support small businesses in the process.
Last month, I attended a fundraising dinner at Balmakewan in aid of Visit Mearns as they look for investment in some of the exciting and innovative plans they have for local tourism.
They hold regular meetings that are open to anyone to join and actively encourage new members who have a passion for the area, with fresh ideas on how to publicise and promote local enterprise.
Their plans include touring and walking routes, a food trail and a heritage trail.
While marketing the Mearns to visitors they also want local people to fully appreciate what’s on offer here and, ultimately, help our part of Scotland tap into the burgeoning tourism economy.
Anyone with an interest in tourism in this area should follow VisitScotland, VisitAberdeenshire and VisitMearns on their social media channels.
I’d also encourage people to attend one of the Visit Mearns meetings to listen to their exciting plans and have a say on how we can tap into our incredible tourism potential here in Stonehaven and the Mearns.