William MacLean, organiser of the Tiree Wave Classic, winner of HITA’s Best Sporting Event category in 2015
Tourism is regarded in our area as the key growth sector for the immediate future. Without enhanced tourism in the forthcoming years, a rural and outlying community such as Tiree – the most westerly island of the Inner Hebrides – would struggle with its sustainability. Tourism, therefore, is of paramount importance to our part of Scotland.
The Tiree Wave Classic, founded in 1986, is the longest running professional windsurfing event in the world and attracts hundreds of visitors to the island each year, making the event a significant annual economic driver for the island.
As we prepare for the 30th anniversary of the event, it is extremely rewarding to know that its value is recognised not just by the sport and the island community, but also by organisations such as the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards.
Winning a HITA award has raised the profile of the Classic within our sector and the wider tourism industry. It has further established the ‘credentials’ of the event and raised the potential, we hope, of securing further sponsorship for its longer-term future.
The media interest generated around the HITA process and the awards ceremony raises awareness of any organisation involved in tourism and provides additional evidence for funders, sponsors and other event stakeholders that events and businesses are achieving what they set out to achieve.
Entering the awards offers many benefits. It allows event organisers and businesses to come together to discuss their industries and share and exchange ideas. It gives each entrant an insight into other events, innovations and developments in the various sectors and makes them more aware of the overall marketplace. That can only be a good thing, both individually and collectively, for those of us involved in tourism.