Our DAVAA Members and Associates and invited guests came together at the Doubletree by Hilton, Dundee on the 19th of February for our annual general meeting.

Great hospitality is always a core standard for the Association, so we began the event with a fantastic buffet to welcome all in attendance.  A more formal welcome then followed from our Chair, Mike Metcalfe, as we headed into the business end of the AGM. Once the formalities were out of the way, it was time to hear about the work done on behalf of the members by the DAVAA Committee over the past year; drawing a focus on the work that goes on behind the scenes to represent our members and engage with the decisions that affect our sector  –

  • Tourism Tax   after contributing a response on behalf of the Association to the national survey  at the beginning of 2019, our members were encouraged to engage with the second survey in September 2019 from the Scottish Government. A close watch has been kept on all developments on this subject that could impact the accommodation sector going forward.
  • Dundee Food & Drink Network – Bruce Sheridan  and Secretary Stuart Clark undertook a project in the summer of 2019 to bring together the bars, cafes and restaurants within Dundee to form a Food and Drink Network. As an Association that represents the accommodation operators in both Dundee and Angus we recognise the value of our collaborations and through our experiences we have helped improve the development of Dundee as a tourism destination. Bruce spoke of the face to face networking done over the course of a few weeks to engage these stakeholders. This work culminated in an event at V&A Dundee that was well attended but unfortunately exposed several stumbling blocks that moved DAVAA to make the decision to not pursue this project any further. The most noticeable fact from that event was the lack of attendance from bars, cafes and restaurants operating in the City that would form the very backbone of this network. Of the 61 registered; only 6 of these key stakeholders that were hoped to attract turned up. A positive knock on effect of this work is the progression of an Angus Food and Drink group. Bruce has continued his work through engagement with this in the hope that a link back to the city will come inn the future.
  • Scottish Tourism Alliance – Back in 2018 we joined the Scottish Tourism Alliance. Dundee and Angus has had little in the way of national representation by groups operating in tourism and the best way to help influence matters in favour of our area is to be present and take part. DAVAA will be represented at their Signature conference in March and we will be to all the news reporting back to the Association. At this event the launch of the new national tourism strategy will happen. DAVAA were one of the contributes to this, via workshop held in the Dundee.
  • Business Events Development Group  DAVAA have representation in the group being led by the Dundee and Angus Convention Bureau. It exists to – 
    • To develop Ambassadors (Pathfinders) to drive bringing conferences to the area. These Pathfinders are the people that work in specific field with which could become a key driver in making this area a recognised world lead in, eg life sciences. If we can support them, they can help create a more vibrant conferencing landscape.
    • By increasing the conferences we can look to improve the chances of getting a new conference venue that can accommodate new, bigger and better conferences.
  • Tay Cities Meetings – DAVAA have been well represented on the Tourism Strategy Leadership Group that meets quarterly to feed input into the tourism aspect of the Tay Cities Deal. Our members Ronnie MacKay from Apex City Quay Hotel & Spa, Louise Nicoll from Newton Farm Holidays, Dale Simpson from Malmaison, Stuart Clark and Mike Metcalfe have all attended meetings over the past year ensuring DAVAA’s voice is present.
  • Dundee Tourism Leadership Group – recently formed group that will help define and progress actions of the tourism strategy of Dundee over the coming years. Several of our members have been involved in the process with both Mike and Dale sitting on the steering group. 

The limited funds available to the Association has made the Committee focus on the above efforts, which has not required much in the way of DAVAA funding, but has relied on the generosity of spirit of the Committee members to attend and engage in these meetings, workshops and projects.

Our desire, through familiarisation trips and training, to engage the members is still strong but often this is already being delivered by our partners in the city and shire. We have signposted our members to training opportunities with the Chamber of Commerce and Business Gateway and to ‘fam’ trips offered as part of the Creative Concierge programme in Dundee and similar events hosted by Angus Council in Angus.

so although we were light on specific DAVAA events we did enjoy our annual lunch at Dundee & Angus College with a move to a slightly later date and the evolution of it being a Christmas Lunch and we are looking forward to hosting a ‘Spring Lunch’ on the 31st of March.


Our Guest Speakers were up next and we heard presentations on three diverse and some might say ‘hot’ topics.  All of which can influence the way our members do business. First up was Alison Elliott, Chair of the Angus Tourism Cooperative Chair (ATC) on the EU Angus Leader community led tourism project – Flourishing Destinations #FD2020

Alison is Manager of Murton farm, Tea Room and Nature Reserve. They are one of the four delivery partners, along with Flourish 9 and the ATC (represented by DAVAA’s own Stuart Clark) on an ambitious collaborative project that promotes community led tourism development in Angus in partnership with other rural communities in Belgium and Romania. The challenge is to engage with those communities and develop local tourism in an organic way that benefits the wider community and not just those deemed to be specifically a ‘tourism’ businesses.  All is moved forward with a belief that businesses, residents, community groups and voluntary organisations can all play a part in creating the authentic destination that visitors want to visit and experience. 

The management of destinations towards sustainability is a topic that is gathering greater momentum throughout the world and the progress that this relatively small project is making showed the assembled audience the opportunities our collective businesses have to reach out into local communities and engage with customers and fellow businesses in a more meaningful way. Flourishing Destinations began in 2017 and will run through to the end of 2020. Alison was keen to point out that creating a legacy was an important part of the work and effort are indeed being made with the Angus tourism community to make this happen. Alison was recently invited to represent FD2020 at the Travalyst event in Edinburgh in February.


We moved on from one hot topic and straight into another with our second talk from Michele Gautier and Gary Gall from Dundee City Council’s Employability Department. The subject matter of getting enough workers into the growing hospitality sector within Dundee and Angus is definitely one that interests several of our members.

With tourism being one of the biggest employers in the area, the challenges our industry faces in attracting the right people was highlighted in some very interesting facts laid bare in the presentation. Most concerning was the low level of ‘active’ unemployed candidates to fill the roles our business advertise for recruitment within Dundee. The term ‘active’ defines those people actively seeking and capable of doing the jobs they are applying for.

What was equally interesting (and a little more heartening) is the work being undertaken by the Council to address some key issues and help both potential employers and employees. we highly encourage any employer within the area to get in touch with Michelle and Gary to find out more.


Our third ‘hot topic’ presentation came from Paul Jennings on the work being done by partners in the city to create VisitDundee. Paul began working with DAVAA on VisitDundee in 2018 and he spoke about the collaborative work done to create a private sector led partnership that will help amplify Dundee’s marketing message.

He said –  “Since forming in early 2018 there has been a clear and emergent need to tackle the issue of how the city and wider area converts the large growth in day-trippers to the City into overnight stays. For that reason the focus of VisitDundee for the foreseeable future is to help market Dundee as a short break destination, encouraging more visitors to stay in our accommodation base and as a direct result spend more in local businesses.

The major challenge to date has been securing a budget that will be essential to developing and delivering the kinds of campaigns that will directly encourage visitors to stay longer and spend more.VisitDundee has moved to become a Social Enterprise, a shift that will offer further protection to any funds we receive in channelling them specifically to marketing that will target key audiences that we know have great value for us, notably Food Loving Culturalists and Curious Travellers.

We are very clear that our activities should, wherever possible, complement the activities of others in order to add value rather than duplicate effort. We are currently represented on the Dundee City Tourism Leadership Group and which includes a wide range of stakeholders including DAVAA.

Our goal is a simple one, to play our part in helping maximise the economic potential in our tourism (and associated) businesses for the benefit of those individual businesses, the sector as a whole and those who choose to call Dundee home.”


To end the session our DAVAA Chair put some final thoughts on moving forward for DAVAA and tourism in the area whilst echoing our final speakers call and reiterating the need for the private sector to contribute to the marketing effort within the region and issued a rally cry to support the endeavours of Visit Dundee.

 Mike said “DAVAA will continue to work to develop strong links with both Dundee City Council and Angus Council and with all Tourism stakeholders to help develop our Tourism economy.  

The National Tourism Strategy will be launched in March at the Scottish Tourism Alliance Conference in Edinburgh.  At local level DAVAA is involved and contributing to the current review of the Dundee Tourism Strategy helping to create a new 5 year plan.  A Leadership group recently formed out of DTAG will publish the new Strategy in April 2020.   This Leadership group is formed from private and public sector and is making real effort to communicate with the chairs of all key organizations and stakeholders in the Tourism economy. 

 Having established very positive communication links we aim to continue and to develop further our influence within the Angus and Dundee tourism context.  Given the current financial constraint for Dundee City Council to be in a position to place sufficient funds into the current marketing arrangements there is a need to the private sector to contribute in a meaningful way to this. 

In terms of the future for VisitDundee its purpose is to bring the private sector key stakeholders together to contribute and to assist in driving our Tourism Economy in collaboration with the Public Sector.  It cannot operate or be effective without funds which are needed to employ staff to carry out marketing activity and embark on projects, and to compliment the efforts of the Councils.  It has as Paul has said today achieved significant positive reach in its social media activity and has put into the public arena a great deal of digital images of the destination.  It has however yet to carry out marketing projects and cannot do so without funds to employ a team or contract project officers with a marketing budget to work with.  My own view is that we DAVAA need to continue and strengthen our support for the future of VisitDundee.”

DAVAA would like to thank the guest speakers, Members, Associates and invited guests who attended the AGM. Special thanks to Doubletree Hilton Dundee for hosting.