Emma-Jane Hannah is enjoying sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm for Ayrshire with others.
Ayrshire and Arran's first Tourism Champion Volunteers were out and about for the very first time during the Ayr Gold Cup weekend, welcoming and assisting the thousands attending this popular sporting event.
The volunteers greeted visitors at Ayr railway station and at Ayr Racecourse for the Ayr Gold Cup making sure they knew where they were going and how to find all they needed to get the most out of their day out.
Tourism Champion Volunteers – a brand-new programme run by the Ayrshire & Arran tourism team – are enthusiastic and dedicated local people who provide a warm welcome and information to visitors to the area, giving their free time to ensure visitors have a truly memorable experience.
The programme is designed to enable people to volunteer in their local area and provide information to people visiting Ayrshire and Arran – whether it is for a day trip or a longer stay. The ultimate aim of the Tourism Champion Volunteer Programme is to improve the visitor experience and encourage more visitors to come and experience Ayrshire hospitality for themselves.
The information being provided to visitors from the Tourism Champion Volunteers includes travel directions, transport information, suggestions for what to see and do, holiday accommodation and restaurant recommendations.
The Tourism Champion Volunteers are very recognisable in branded kit − white polo shirts and blue hi-vis vests, ensuring they stand out from the crowd! They complete induction training, including the Ayrshire Smiles course which mixes customer service training with destination knowledge.
Ayrshire Smiles is designed to inspire people employed within tourism and hospitality related businesses to share their passion for Ayrshire & Arran and give a genuine warm welcome to visitors. It builds on tried and tested destination and service delivery courses and helps create a consistent and quality approach to customer service.
The Tourism Champion Volunteers received a lot of positive feedback following the Ayr Gold Cup event from people who were grateful to have people to personally provide them with information about what to see and do after the racing or the next day. Another group were happy to receive directions to a coffee shop where they could relax and have something to eat after their bus was delayed.
Here is what two of the volunteers, who found out about the Tourism Champion Volunteer Programme through local media and word of mouth, had to say about their experience:
Emma-Jane Hannah, Tourism Champion Volunteer from Prestwick said: "A day at the races was an ideal first setting to greet visitors and help promote tourism. The experience was really fun and I enjoyed getting to know fellow volunteers and mingling with the crowd. Our input varied from providing directions to Ayrshire & Arran attractions. Locals took an interest in what we were doing and thought it was a good idea as Ayrshire has so much to offer."
Louise McCulloch, Tourism Champion Volunteer from Kilmarnock said: "Now that my children are older teenagers they are off doing their own thing, so I have a little more free time on my hands. I spent a few hours on a beautiful day talking to people who were from various parts of the UK and answering their questions as well as chatting to some Ayrshire folk. I had a lovely afternoon and would recommend it to anyone, even if you can only spare an hour or two."
The response of people interested in becoming a volunteer with the Ayrshire & Arran Tourism Team has been great with 22 local people from across Ayrshire & Arran already registered.
Further induction sessions and volunteering opportunities will be taking place throughout October, so to get involved and sign up visit www.ayrshire-arran.org or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. New volunteers always welcome!
For information on Ayrshire Smiles visit www.ayrshire-smiles.com.