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Visit South West Scotland Annual General Meeting Minutes 14th November 2018

Present: Ian McAndrew, Karen Hall, Jane Henry, Jill Finnimore, Frank Gourlay, Marion McGhie, Fred Findlay, Douglas McMillan, Ronnie Bradford and Patricia Picken.

Apologies: None


Chairman Ian McAndrew welcomed everyone to the AGM. Ian thanked GG’S Yard for providing the venue for this year’s AGM and thanked everyone for coming. Ian mentioned being concerned about the turnout as the Galloway National Park event and other events taking place this week. He is delighted to see so many here and reminded all that VSWS is their organisation and to get involved.

Chairman’s Report

Beginning with an update on the current committee.  Lynda McDarmant has now left due to her business commitments and all other members are committed to VSWS. There is a need for additional committee members and any offer of help even on a part time basis would be very welcome. In the region there are approximately 950 accommodation, 300 attractions and 300 places to eat and drink. VSWS would like to represent all our region’s tourism businesses. Ian read the Social Media report provided by Fred Findlay:

Website /Social Media 2018:

During 2018, we have been busy updating exiting towns and villages pages on our website and also adding new town pages to fill in some gaps and to cater for new members in locations where we had, up until now no representation.

Early this year, we decided to make some alterations to the initial version of the route, with a view to taking in more of our coastline and to include Scotland’s Highest Villages, Wanlockhead and Leadhills which we feel are a USP  

Once the new route was researched and agreed, we asked Kit and his team at Creatomatic to improve the existing page we had on our website to incorporate a full description of the route and to incorporate a searchable route map. The map and route information were added to our site late September and,  coupled with  some plugs on Facebook, tremendous interest was shown with daily views peaking at over 1,000 against the more usual 250 – 300

During the September / early October, we received about 70 new membership applications, most of which, we are pleased to say, joined us. This is a tremendous result and one which we are sure will be improved upon once the new season begins. We are presently working on a new logo for the route and hope that the publicity surrounding this will also help increase our membership 

We also purchased the URL which links through the route section on 

I would mention that work on populating the new map with attractions is not yet complete and will be done as soon as practical.

On Social Media, one of our members, Maggie Findlay, set up an Instagram account for VSWS early in 2018. This has proved very popular and already has almost 650 followers. As with all our social media, there is huge potential to build on this if members who are keen photographers and based on other parts of our area would like to contribute. Several new members have been recruited as a result of the Instagram Account and we are very grateful to Maggie for all her work on this

Our Facebook page likers continue to grow with the total for the main page being 5370 and  our SWC300 page is on the cusp of reaching 1,000 

While we have a Twitter Account with 3700 followers, it is virtually dormant due to a lack of volunteers. This is a great shame as it would give us another great opportunity to promote ourselves and the area.

Finally, we have a Facebook Discussion Group for VSWS members to discuss burning issues or perhaps to seek information etc but we only have 45 group members – a fraction of our total membership.

As we said last year, any offer of assistance with Social Media would be very much appreciated. Even if you don’t have time to contribute, you can still help tremendously by liking, sharing and commenting on our posts.

VSWS have also featured in Newspapers, Magazines and blogs. This coverage is in relation to the route SWC300.  There is a book currently being written about the route, due out March 2019. The author said he could have written three books with all the material he gathered.  The most recent blog was produced by Fiona Russell.  The newspapers were the Guardian and the Herald.

Work was undertaken on the website in 2018. Building pages, adding content and adding an interactive SWC300 map. 35K leaflets produced. SWC300 Facebook page created and with 1000 views daily. SWC300 route has generated approximately 70 new members.

VSWS attended EXPO in 2018; Featuring WSWS and SWC300. The aim of EXPO is to introduce our products to the travel industry. D&G Council are taking a stand in 2019 and have offered VSWS a place.

VSWS have funding applications in process and no final information is available yet. We will update asap.

Adoption of Minutes AGM 2017

A copy of the AGM minutes 2017 had been given to all attendees together with the trading accounts of VSWS(2016 & 2017).

Presented as a true and accurate reflection of the AGM 2017 by Patricia Picken, Secretary.

Proposed by Jane Henry. Seconded by Frank Gourlay.

Treasurers Report

Karen Hall provided everyone with a copy of the VSWS Accounts (2017 & 2018) and delivered the Financial Report to the AGM:


The accounts you have a copy of today are for the year ending 5th April 2018, I present these as a true record of the organisation’s finances at that time.

The Accounts have been audited by Bell Ogilvy of Castle Douglas and I would like to propose that we use their efficient services again for the coming financial year – ending 5th April 2019. 

Can I have a seconder please? Seconded by Patricia Picken


To give clarity to the accounts I had asked Bell Ogilvy, this year, to separate the Organisations income into three main revenue streams, these being; Membership subscriptions, Grant Income and Advertising. 

* I’m delighted to say there has been an increase in Membership subscriptions this financial year. Our thanks go to Jill Finnimore who continues to do a fantastic job!

* The Grant income figure shown came from D&G Chamber of Commerce who had a ‘ring-fenced’ amount allocated for use in tourism and the promotion of the region. This was the cash surplus at the dissolution of the former organisation – Destination Dumfries & Galloway. The Chamber kindly released these funds to assist VSWS with our Visit Scotland EXPO campaign. There was no other external funding received by VSWS this year. 

* Year on year, you will see a fairly drastic difference in the amount of revenue received for advertising. This figure is not unusual but looks low in comparison to the previous year, there are two main reasons for this; (1). there was physically less room on our promotional leaflet for advertising due to the large increase in new Members details and (2). the previous year’s advertising figure actually contained revenue from two leaflets, one published at the overlap at the beginning of 2016/17 and the second published at the overlap of 2017/18 – I hope that makes sense?  


* We spent less on our Website and Social Media Campaigns in this accounting year. However, with the recent launch of the SWC300 this is likely to increase significantly moving forward. We will continue to develop our on-line presence as efficiently and economically as possible.

* There has been a steady growth in our membership base during the year. Opening up membership to all tourism related businesses across Dumfries and Galloway and the wider region has proved beneficial to the future financial sustainability of the group, we are confident that this will continue through the promotion of SWC300. Early indications show that membership is set to increase, and our base widen throughout SW Scotland. Therefore, the figures show a considerable increase in commission charges. These fees are claimed by our commission-based membership secretary. The year 2017 shows commission figures based on 3 months (Jill was appointed during Jan 2017), the figures this year amount to a full twelve-month period, hence the difference.

* The increase in Stationery & Printing relates to some promotional banners which were ordered for use at EXPO, these are generic and can be used for future promotional events.

* A large proportion of the increase you see in expenditure relating to VSWS meetings is due to our AGM 2017 at Arden House being financed by ourselves, with no charge for attendee lunch. The previous year 2016 (which saw the official launch of Visit South West Scotland at Threave Estate) our AGM was funded by D&G Chamber of Commerce from the surplus funds leftover from Destination D&G which I mentioned earlier).

* Just to note: there is now no further ring-fenced funding available from D&G Chamber of Commerce following the dissolution of DD&G.

* Being able to take membership fee payments by card remains beneficial and Worldpay, who are our Card Services Gateway provider, continue to offer competitive rates and their customer service is good. This service will continue to be monitored.

All other lines in the accounts I think are self-explanatory.

If anyone has any questions regarding the accounts, I would be happy to try and answer them? No questions asked.

Proposed by: Karen Hall. Seconded by: Patricia Picken

Election of office bearers/committee

Chairperson: Ian McAndrew

Vice Chair: Frank Gourlay

Treasurer: Karen Hall

Secretary: Patricia Picken

Current committee agreed to stand again: Jane Henry, Fred Findlay, Marion McGhie, Ronnie Bradford and Douglas McMillan. 

Proposed by Karen Hall  

Seconded by Patricia Picken


Paul Seaton of Swallow Theatre – VSWS Website needs up-to-date/current events listings page. Karen Hall said everyone can add to their page(s). Fred said events page is more difficult to edit and work will need to be undertaken on the website to improve this page. Fred will contact Creatomatic.

Vote on Membership fees

Membership Subscription fees 2017 =  £50.

Plus, fee for member’s additional businesses =  £10 per additional business.

Proposed increase for 2018:

Membership Subscription fees 2018 =  £60.  

Plus, fee for member’s additional businesses =  £60 per additional business.

Optional Extra: Add extra info location/link to the interactive SWC300 map. Link/button =  £25 per link/business.   

Proposed: Ian McAndrew. Seconded: Karen Hall.

Vote: For: Majority.  Against: Two.  Undecided: Two

2018/19 Membership now includes inclusion on SWC300 route promotion.  General understanding that VSWS needs to be self-funding, fees have been the same for three years and require a review.  Elspeth Little said she felt it was a big increase for small businesses with more than one property where large businesses may not feel the increase as much.  Duncan McConchie added he felt the fees are cheap. Duncan pays much higher fees to other advertising organisations. Proceeding to update membership fees as per vote today. Fee change rate/date will be published to members via Newsletter/email.

Meeting close

Ian thanked Duncan and staff for their hosting of today’s AGM. Ian praised them for everything going well and congratulated them on the beautiful venue.  Ian thanked everyone for coming along today and for their continued support for VSWS. The committee will look forward to the year ahead working with all tourism businesses and organisations to promote South West Scotland.

2019 AGM will be in November with the date/venue to be confirmed.


Ian introduced Marc Crothall from the Scottish Tourism Alliance, Wendy Cuffe from Stranraer Skiffie Worlds 2019 and Duncan McConchie from GG’s Yard. All provided very interesting presentations.

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