Giant Strides

“In my role over the years of Chairman of British Marine Scotland I have known, worked with and alongside James Stuart for around 7 years. In James`s previous role as Chief Exec of RYA Scotland we worked together to create Scotland`s first national strategy for the growth of marine tourism 2015 – 2020, “Awakening the Giant”. James led the direction and drafting and played the major role in producing what has turned out to be a highly successful initiative.

As we entered the next phase it was a natural choice to approach James Stuart again to lead us and our industry partners, assessing progress, changes to market dynamics and through his works also with the team developing the new national strategy for Scotland`s tourism sector as a whole, feeding in national and international trends. James`s leadership has been essential in making sure our industry sector is aligned with national trends and political directions and ideally placed to build a partnership approach for delivery. The process of working with James has been effective, focussed and very time efficient. For ourselves and our partners a very positive experience to work through, creating and taking “Giant Strides” to launching within a challenging but well-structured timeframe.

We would have no hesitation in working with James Stuart again on future projects.

Simon Limb

Co Chair British Marine Scotland, Managing Director, Clyde Marine Ltd.

Sector strategy development for Marine Tourism in Scotland.

The need

As the Scottish marine tourism sector approached the end of the first strategy (Awakening the Giant) James was approach to help lead the development of its successor, including:

A review of the previous strategy,

Engagement with key stakeholders,

Development of a pre-consultation draft and launch at Scottish Parliament,

Reviewing consultation feedback and developing a feedback report,

Redrafting and writing of the final strategy,

Launch of the strategy with a Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary

I was approached as I have the confidence of the sector and key stakeholders, because I have considerable experience in the broader Tourism sector in Scotland and as I had successfully led the same process for the first Marine Tourism Strategy published in 2014.

Key innovations

In developing this strategy, we sought to respond to customer demand, learn lessons from the previous strategy, to reposition the sector and to embrace sustainability and wellbeing approaches fully. This work led to several innovations:

A paradigm shift: beyond classic economics.

This strategy deliberately sought to embed activity to drive multiple outcomes and to escape the narrow focus of economic growth. Of the 14 objectives only one is a directly to do with monetary growth, all of the others seek to drive activities that unlock benefits across a host of other areas. This is illustrated in mapping to the Scottish Government’s National Performance Framework and to the UN Sustainable Development Goal.

New focuses: New Partners.

In keeping with the strategy’s paradigm shift the approach to partners also changed. It draws a deliberate and strong link between sport and tourism, bringing to different areas of government policy and activity together and setting out to drive impacts for both agendas. In so doing this opens up a host of new potential partners who can contribute.  It also takes a radical new approach to delivering against a sector plan.

A new delivery model.

Most current strategies in tourism and similar sectors across Scotland have adopted an action planning approach to deliver aims of the parent strategy. The challenge all have faced is that this model requires central leadership and resourcing which has persistently proved hard to find and almost impossible to put on a sustainable footing. This model removes the need for significant central resourcing and replaces it with self-funding and governing partnerships overseen by a public forum driving peer-to-peer accountability.

A new approach for Cross Party Groups.

CPGs can be extremely valuable forums, linking stallholders to the parliament and creating forums driving action and scrutiny. They can also struggle to find purpose and often limp on as not much more than a talking shop. Over time they will wither and stop. The approach I developed and now adopted by the CPG for Recreational Boating and Marine Tourism provides an underpinning structure that capitalises on the principle virtues of a CPG and also gives a long-term function and purpose to the group. It is based on a simple annual cycle of 4 meetings, the first being the forum to publicly build Partnerships to deliver against the strategy outcomes and the remaining three to review progress and to convene other stakeholders to address challenges to progress of new opportunities. .

Launching the final strategy

James worked with British Marine Scotland, Royal Yachting Association Scotland and Scottish Canals to produce and launch the current five-year Marine Tourism Strategy ‘Giant Strides 2020-25’. He helped shape the content, informing discussions around the strategic objectives and how it would build on the original Marine Tourism Strategy ‘Awakening the Giant’ before translating it into an accessible document. He also helped attract a range of senior stakeholders to the launch event as well as acting as chair, ensuring the session was interactive, engaging and relevant. Feedback from a number of Scottish Canals’ customers and partners, both in the marine sector and beyond, has been very positive.

Josie Saunders, Head of Corporate Affairs, Scottish Canals

Let’s make the world more sustainable.

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