26 Feb Loch Ness Hub Ltd
Loch Ness Hub is a recently formed Community Benefit Company, operating from the former Visit Scotland Tourist Information Centre in the heart of the beautiful village of Drumnadrochit, Loch Ness.
Area of interest: Great Glen Way, Loch Ness and Affric/Kintail
After securing funding from The Scottish Land Fund, the Hub’s anchor share holder and community umbrella organisation, Glen Urquhart Rural Community Association, took ownership of the building in January this year. Loch Ness Hub, the Community Benefit Company, was formed specifically to operate from the building and provide a range of services for both visitors and local people, whilst generating profit that can be reinvested in the community.
When it opens in late Spring, Loch Ness Hub will be a visitor information centre and the base from which a baggage handling and transfer business, for walkers on the various long-distance footpaths which pass through the village, will be managed. The Hub aims to provide a world class service, and be a one stop shop for information, tours, tickets, and everything that is Glen Urquhart, Loch Ness and beyond.
The Hub is also working in partnership with local social enterprise company, Soirbheas, to develop a Community Transport Hub, promoting health walks and greener, sustainable modes of transport. Following up the findings of a Transport Feasibility Study which was undertaken for Glen Urquhart and Strathglass,, the partnership has ambitious plans to develop community transport and active travel solutions for the area, for the benefit of both local people and visitors to the Glens.
The first project to be undertaken is an eBike community trial which will be launched in April 2021. This will see a range of eBikes being made available to local people for 3 – 4 week free loans as well as a programme of road safety training and bike maintenance. The project will run for 12 – 18 months, after which the eBikes will revert to a hire scheme for both locals and visitors.
Some of the funding for the setting up of Loch Ness Hub, and purchase of the successful and well established local baggage transfer business, came from external funders, but a large part of the funding – £110,000 – was raised via a hugely successful, and fully subscribed, Community Share Offer. Over 75% of the shareholders are local to our community, which demonstrates the level of support that exists for what we are seeking to do here.
Having secured funding for a range of works and purchases, we are currently undertaking a complete refurbishment and redecoration of much of the existing building, including the public toilets which will also be managed by the Hub. New windows, insulation, heating system and LED lighting will increase the energy efficiency of the Hub, and a Motorhome Service Point will provide a much needed facility. We are also developing a digital booking system and digital signage to provide 24 hour information if required.
We are adopting marketing strategies gleaned from webinars and general information gathering, with the aim of encouraging slow and authentic tourism, enabling visitors to enjoy in more depth all that is to be found in this rich, diverse and historical area. We also want to provide the opportunity to local artisan craftspeople to display and sell work, as well as promoting our own range of branded goods.
We are keen to invite businesses reading this that wish to collaborate, to contact the Hub Manager, Russell Fraser, to discuss any common ground whereby you think we can work on together.