Maybole Regeneration Project.

There is huge and well-justified concern across the whole tourism and leisure sector at the moment as to the lasting effects of Lockdown and the need for social distancing. Visit Scotland has produced a guide for businesses, with advice regularly updated.

Even against this background however, the need to maintain a vision for “life beyond” goes on. So, with no loss of empathy for all those currently experiencing significant difficulty, tourism remains a key focus for future development in Ayrshire.

Maybole – back to the future as a tourism hub?

Anyone walking Maybole High Street as it looks just now could be forgiven some cynicism about the town becoming a tourism hub. However, anyone who remembers the villages of the East Neuk of Fife a few decades ago, would be much less surprised at local ambitions.

Run-down, former fishing villages with rowdy pubs and few amenities, in places such as Crail and Anstruther in the late 20th century, have given way to beautifully restored havens for wealthy incomers and holiday-makers in the 21stC. Demand and wealth attracted to the area has further allowed a variety of galleries, cafes, hotels and shops to flourish.

Like Fife, the Ayrshire coast is rich in scenery, history and interesting stories; from Robert Burns whose parents met in Maybole, to Robert the Bruce, born at Turnberry Castle.

Maybole was the historic capital of Carrick, with official Burgh status and a lively history as a market town and seat of the Kennedys.

With Crossraguel Abbey and Culzean Castle on the doorstep, picturesque harbours like Dunure an easy drive away and the beaches at Maidens and Girvan just down the road, it’s not hard to imagine that what has been achieved in Fife is also within reach, much closer to home.

The latest published tourism figures from Visit Scotland* (pre-Lockdown) suggest that in Ayrshire and Arran alone;

  • Visitors spent £171m a single year
  • 89% were domestic visitors
  • 68% came for the scenery & landscape
  • 72% undertook sightseeing by car/coach/on foot

Councillor Brian McGinley, Economy and Culture Portfolio Holder for South Ayrshire Council said: “Tourism has always been an important sector for South Ayrshire, and crucial to the local economy. It’s a key part of the Maybole regeneration project, that visitors rediscover the town and connect with Carrick’s ancient heritage. We also want local people to be ambassadors for town, take pride in where they live and rediscover all that their town has to offer.”

As Maybole finally sees its £7.5 million regeneration project get underway, key, historic buildings are being restored and the town bypass will remove heavy traffic from the town centre. Grants of up to £25,000 are available to improve shop fronts, and pedestrian and cycling routes are built in to the design of the town centre.

Gordon Smith, Regional Director at VisitScotland said: “Our communities are at the heart of what makes Ayrshire & Arran such a special place and so we welcome the Maybole Regeneration Project.

“Infrastructure improvements like this are vital to boosting community spirit and well-being and will play a significant role in supporting Scotland’s economic recovery in the near future.

“Not only will the project benefit local people but it will provide an opportunity to develop the town’s visitor experience as part of Ayrshire’s wider tourism offering, encouraging people to visit when the time is right.”

Max Agnew of Maybole Community Council adds, “The Covid Lockdown has highlighted the increased appetite amongst local people to walk and cycle local streets and roads while they were quieter and safer.

“It’s my hope that through the Town Regeneration, as the town centre becomes more a place for people, we can create facilities  which can give  the confidence and feeling of safety to sustain any ambitions for local people and visitors to continue to walk and cycle within the town and beyond, by linking with the National Cycle Network NCN 7, the Ayrshire Coastal Path and the proposed Culzean Way”

Duncan Clelland, Project Lead for the Maybole Regeneration Project adds, “It’s not so long since towns like Girvan and Maybole were places families looked forward to visiting as day-trip and holiday destinations.

“With the support of South Ayrshire Council, Historic Environment Scotland, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Visit Scotland and perhaps most importantly of all, the creativity of local people and businesses, the Maybole Regeneration Project is an important step in unleashing a new wave of ambition and a new era for the town.

“We invite everyone to visit the newly launched Maybole Regeneration Project website ( to find