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Christine Watson from World Host, Jo Watson from Visit Aberdeenshire and Jacky Niven gave presentations at the meeting to put the Mearns area on the arts, cultural and heritage tourism map.

Christine Watson from World Host, Jo Watson from Visit Aberdeenshire and Jacky Niven gave presentations at the meeting to put the Mearns area on the arts, cultural and heritage tourism map.

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An event held last weekend at Balmekewan saw the launch of the Our Mearns Tourism Association, which aims to make the Mearns an arts, cultural and heritage tourism destination.

The Our Mearns initiative was established last year in response to information and knowledge gathered by the Kincardineshire Development Partnership (KDP).

KDP Development Officer Jacky Niven explained: “There are lots of people working hard in the Mearns area in isolation. Our aim is that if we come together as a bigger brand then we can start to market the Mearns, and it might encourage people to stay longer too.”

In addition, as an area affected by the current economic climate there is a need to raise the profile of this part of Aberdeenshire and capitalise on its other assets.

Jacky added: “A project group has been working on the best way to support this area which is already rich in natural resources, community organised events and festivals, heritage and history. The way forward has been identified through forming a tourism association.”

Around 40 people representing local businesses and the wider community turned out to the launch event on Saturday, and 20 people have signed up to the association so far.

Anyone else who may be interested in joining the Mearns Tourism Association or helping to form the committee, which will cover the area south of Stonehaven from Fettercairn to St Cyrus, can contact Jacky Niven by email at jniven@kincardineshiredp.org or phone (01569) 763246.