A private sector-backed venture has been launched to lure citybreakers to Dundee on the back of a packed events programme for 2018.

VisitDundee is aiming to crowdfund a new leisure tourism campaign following a £1bn investment programme in the city’s waterfront, including the new V&A Dundee.

The initiative, which is being spearheaded by Paul Jennings of Dundee Heritage Trust, is seeking to raise £20,000 to kickstart a grassroots movement of businesses which could benefit from the activity in the city.

Mr Jennings, a veteran of the tourism industry and Chairman of the new organisation, said: “We have an absolutely first-class events programme planned this year and with 500,000 expected visitors going to the new V&A, I think there’s an opportunity that our tourism-focused businesses in the city should not be missing.

“Much of the footfall for the new attraction will come locally – from Glasgow and Edinburgh – so this is about trying to encourage them to stay in the city, and adding to the economic impact of the visit; it’s not just about having a coffee and lunch at the V&A, these people could be staying overnight, and there are many hotels, restaurants and bars that are coming onstream and who could benefit from that.”

He said Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh all have their own membership-based organisations aimed at promoting those destinations, namely Glasgow Life, VisitAberdeenshire and Marketing Edinburgh. There is a convention bureau for Dundee & Angus (Dundee & Angus Convention Bureau) but no overall private sector focused destination management organisation (DMO) for the city.

“If you Google Dundee, the images you get back are a pretty mixed bag. I think we have a fantastic opportunity this year – [as] there are so many people enthused about what’s happening in the city – to really put Dundee on the map as a tourist destination and capitalise on all the investment going on. There’s never been a better time to do it. This is about getting people to come to Dundee and stay in Dundee, that’s the premise.”

Organisations which have backed the new venture include Dundee Heritage Trust, Dundee Rep, accountancy firm Henderson Loggie, Leisure and Culture Dundee, Volpa, MTC Media, and Insights Learning & Development. TV celebrity Lorraine Kelly, who hails from the city, has also broadcast a message of support of the venture.

Mr Jennings said VisitDundee is also in discussions with David Thomson of the media publishing giant DC Thomson and Chris van der Kuyl, the computer gaming entrepreneur and Chairman of 4J Studios.

The aim of VisitDundee would be to boost takings for Dundee’s visitor economy, including hotels, restaurants, bars, visitor attractions and retail offer.

“If you look across the city, there are very few families who don’t have someone employed in those key industries,” said Jennings.

“There is a wide base of support for the investment going into the city and we would like to harvest that to ensure the growth opportunities are maximised; a rising tide lifts all boats,” he added.

Mr Jennings said the aim would be to install someone in an executive role once the £20,000 crowdfunding target is hit and then to construct a membership along destination management organisation (DMO) lines.

He said the DMO would then work to bring in additional tourism to the city as well as well as to support efforts to position the city as a destination for events and festivals.

For more information visit www.visitdundee.com and www.crowdfunder.co.uk/visitdundee-making-tourism-everyones-business