We finally signed off the VisitHebrides 2009 brochure today. It looks great, the front cover image (by local photographer James Smith, www.oisevalgallery.co.uk) in particular is a cracker, but all the way through the brochure it is, once again, an improvement on the last one. This is the 6th one we’ve done and, I’m pleased to say, each year visitor numbers have gone up. Unfortunately this may be the last one we do as the Scottish government are creating a closed list for suppliers and if you don’t make it onto this list you can’t be considered for any public sector work.

The process to be included on this list began in February and it is still ongoing. There was an initial PQQ and then in August the tender document itself. We made a decision several years ago not to chase public sector tenders, the amount of time, effort and work that was required to simply fill in the documents was making them prohibitive and we always retained the impression that no one was going to give the business to an agency they had no experience with, no matter what they might say to the contrary. However we enjoy the work we do with the team in Stornoway and I’ve a personal connection with the Outer Hebrides and I want to see their economy grow and the islands prosper. Plus the team in here have a bank of knowledge and experience gained over the years which, bizarrely, won’t be available to the client next year if we don’t make the list of approved suppliers. So we’ve filled in the forms, tried to answer the questions and supplied all the information they’ve requested. We’ll now just have to wait and see what happens.

One thing than hasn’t been made to clear to me though is why the list is closed? Why not keep it open, set your criteria, let the industry know what it is and when, or if, an agency attains it let them on the list. This, after all, is public money, why should certain businesses be excluded from it. Business changes, it is fluid, some grow, some don’t, and over the course of 3 years, the length of this closed list, agencies can completely transform, it makes no sense to exclude anyone indefinitely. I wonder who would have excluded RBS from a banking tender 2 years ago. Our country, far less our industry, is facing challenging times; it’s in everyone’s interest that the best resources are available to everyone, all the time.