A MAJOR marine tourism conference was plain-sailing when it docked in Greenock.

National agency, Sail Scotland, hosted the event in the Beacon Arts Centre recently, welcoming people from all over the UK and special guest speakers, including rural economy secretary, Fergus Ewing MSP, and legendary adventurer, Jock Wishart.

It was held in Greenock for the second time, looking out across the Firth of Clyde, and was supported by Inverclyde Council and Gourock-based Caledonian MacBrayne.

Daniel Steel, chief executive of Sail Scotland, said: "Sailing tourism supports 2,700 jobs and has an economic value of over £130 million, with identified potential to grow to £167m over the next couple of years, so it is no surprise that there is huge interest in the sector.

"We have developed and grown Scotland's Marine Tourism Conference, now in its fourth year, to directly support of the national marine tourism strategy. "With over 100 delegates from across Scotland, it has grown into a key annual event which inspires and challenges delegates to collaborate, innovate, and ensure that we work together to make the most of the opportunities ahead as we plan for Scotland's 'year of coasts and waters' 2020."

Among the other guest speakers were representatives from VisitScotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, West Coast Marine Tourism Collaboration, CalMac, Wales Tourism Alliance, and Superyacht UK.

The chief executive of Surfers Against Sewage, Hugo Tagholm, also gave an international perspective on the challenges of ocean plastics and how communities can act to protect marine and coastal environments.

One of the highlights of the event was maritime adventurer, Mr Wishart, who shared stories of his incredible endurance challenges from leading a six-man team to row to the Magnetic North Pole, and steering a Scots-dominated team to win the 2018 Commodores Cup.

Sail Scotland chairman, Gavin McDonagh, who is also chief executive of Kip Marina, said: "With extensive coast lines and beautiful scenery, it is little surprise that tourism is one of Scotland's key industries - and marine tourism delivers benefits to some of our most remote and rural businesses and communities.

"It was great to see the industry coming together to collaborate, and to think collectively about how we continue to grow marine tourism - as this conference has demonstrated, there is no shortage of ideas about how we continue to move the sector forward."