Alan Armstrong helped sell Scotland with flair

Alan Armstrong in the Assembly Hall in Edinburgh. Picture: TSPL
Alan Armstrong in the Assembly Hall in Edinburgh. Picture: TSPL
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Alan Armstrong, a former director of marketing at the Scottish Tourist Board, has died, aged 81.

Born July 21, 1933, in Coatbridge, Alan Armstrong was one of the first publicity managers of the then Scottish Tourist Board (STB), aiming to create an exciting feeling for those about to visit Scotland. He was always keen to encourage potential visitors to explore the glories and attractions of Scotland and his schemes to promote Scottish tourism were always creative, inventive and far-reaching.

Armstrong cunningly blended the history and magnificence of the Highlands and the wide-ranging sporting and gaming facilities with such major events as the Edinburgh Festival.

William Macleod worked with Armstrong at the STB and preserved warm and happy memories of his friend. “Alan was a real people’s person and had time for everyone,” he said. “He had a warm and outgoing personality and a fine sense of humour – both ideal for promoting tourism.”

Armstrong did his national service in the RAF as a radar fitter and then served in that capacity with BOAC. For a few years he travelled widely in Africa doing casual work and in 1966 he joined the sales team of Alitalia.

Three years later he returned to Scotland to become the tourist manager for the Dunoon area. He left in 1972 to join the STB and was appointed its director of marketing in 1975. He pioneered many inspiring publicity campaigns to attract tourists to Scotland – one particularly successful example was titled “Scotland, a World of Differences”.

In 1979 Armstrong led a major push to increase Scottish tourism from America. He was well aware that America was a vital market and he travelled widely in the States promoting Scotland as a principal destination.

Armstrong was also much involved in the planning of the Gathering of the Clans not only in Holyrood Park but at many other locations around Scotland.

In 1981 he left the Tourist Board to found, with his colleague at STB, Roy Stewart, MDA (Marketing and Design Agency).

Armstrong was an early member of the SNP and a firm believer in an independent Scotland. He was convenor of the Campaign for a Scottish Assembly and a member, from 1989, of the Scottish Constitutional Convention. Armstrong succeeded Jim Boyack as Convenor of the Convention and worked tirelessly for a Scottish Assembly.

In 1993 Armstrong set himself a very different challenge and enrolled at Heriot-Watt University and read Economics, gaining a first class degree.

Throughout his distinguished career Armstrong promoted Scotland with flair and an elegant dash.

Alan Armstrong is survived by his wife Cindy, whom he married in 1966, and their two sons.