Tourism businesses in the North East Fife area believe that a year on from the opening of the V&A Dundee, any economic spin-offs are a “work in progress”.
A North East Fife tourism industry representative, who asked not to be named, told The Courier there was also a belief amongst many that more needs to be done to “join up the visitor journey” to other attractions in Dundee because she felt it’s still too easy for day trippers to get off a train, spend a few hours at the V&A, then go home again.
“We are really delighted the V&A is there and are looking forward to working with Dundee to improve the tourism experience of the area,” the source said.
“But there needs to be a bit more work done to link those day visits up to become weekend visits.
“It would be wonderful to say ‘yes, we’ve had an amazing V&A effect’. But I don’t hear that from anybody. It’s a big work in progress.
“We had the first year of all the press saying how wonderful it is and ‘Dundee is the new place’. The evidence is maybe not so.
“I think they (Dundee) just need to catch up with themselves and have a big honest look at where things are.
“I can’t help but feel that Tay Cities has been a distraction in terms of trying to use that as a brand for the visitor to the wider area.
“But I think what they need to do is concentrate purely on promoting Dundee.”
Elsewhere, Lindores Abbey Distillery near Newburgh is one of Scotland’s newest tourist attraction and has expressed hope in the past that it might benefit from visitors to the V&A.
However, while a big fan of the V&A building, Helen McKenzie Smith, who helped establish the distillery with her husband Drew, said that so far they cannot attribute any increase in visitor numbers to it.
“We try really hard to establish where our visitors are coming from and our tour guides always endeavour to find out what has brought them to Lindores,” said Helen.
“Currently the majority of our visitors come from Edinburgh and St Andrews and we are sorry to say that I think we could probably count on the fingers of one hand those who are coming as a result of visiting the V&A.
“I really wish we could be more positive about it and hope that as it becomes more established that both the city and the surrounding areas do begin to benefit.
“On a more positive note however, the people of Dundee have responded incredibly favourably towards Aqua Vitae and it is very popular in the cocktail bars.
“Drew and I have always been huge fans of Dundee and so we are really enjoying its resurgence plus it’s wonderful to be part of it in some small way.”
It’s understood the V&A has also had no impact so far on the Old Course Hotel at St Andrews. The hotel has expressed hope that during the quieter winter season when it’s less dependent on golf tourism, it could attract more visitors using the V&A as a hook.
However, former Fife Constabulary Chief Constable Peter Wilson, who leads the Cruise Forth project – a voluntary organisation that was set up in 2011 to welcome cruise ships arriving at Rosyth – said he was continuing to support efforts to attract more cruise ships to Dundee, with the V&A being a major draw.
“We have supported the V&A’s engagement with cruise ship visits by getting their information to the arriving guests, and last September I believe there were visitors from the cruise ships which visited immediately after the opening,” he said.
“We are again seeing engagement of the V&A with the two ships visiting Dundee over the next couple of weeks.”
Caroline Warburton, VisitScotland Regional Leadership Director, said: “The success of the V&A Dundee since its launch last year has undoubtedly drawn many more visitors to the city. In the lead-up to the opening, there was also significant investment in the hotel sector, something that was needed in the city.
“Combined with our other visitor attractions, including Discovery Point, the McManus Gallery and Verdant Works – as well as great parks, shops and places to eat and drink – the city has a great buzz about it.
“This has resulted in both an increase in the number of beds and the range of experiences on offer to overnight visitors. There is the opportunity to increase occupancy levels in the city and VisitScotland is working closely with tourism partners to help raise the profile of Dundee as a quality destination.”