ScotGov Tourism Minister welcomes Highland Tourism CIC

Highland Tourism Community Interest Company has met with Richard Lochhead, Scottish Government Minister for Small Business, Innovation, Tourism and Trade, to discuss a range of challenges facing the Scottish Highlands and potential strategies to combat them. 

Discussions covered a range of issues and Highland Tourism’s agile solutions, which have brought about a number of key successes:

Challenges in Tourism: The dialogue opened with a focus on the existing challenges within the tourism sector and Highland Tourism’s key programmes. Strategies to navigate and resolve these issues were thoroughly discussed, aiming to ensure a move away from an unsustainable model of tourism that depends on more and more day visitors.

Highland Renewables Opportunity: A significant portion of the discussion was dedicated to exploring the potential of Scottish renewable energy and how this sector could synergise with tourism to create a unique and world leading offering to higher value visitors and how this strategic relationship would benefit both the environment and the economy.

Housing Challenges: The housing difficulties affecting both locals and the tourism sector were acknowledged as a major concern. Innovative solutions to provide housing options which would benefit the tourism sector were deliberated, recognising their importance for the overall development and success of the tourism industry.

Visitor Levy Discussions: The implementation of a visitor levy was a key topic, with discussions centred on how it could be utilised to further develop and sustain local tourism infrastructure and services. The aim is to ensure that any potential levy benefits are aligned to premium environmental brand Highlands, with opportunities for an opt in environmental levy being discussed too.

Premium Environmental Product for the Highlands: The ambition to develop the Highlands as a destination for premium, environmentally-conscious tourism was a highlight. This initiative is seen as a way to position the region as a leader in eco-tourism, attracting a new demographic of higher spending environmentally-aware visitors.

Tourism Minister Richard Lochhead said: “I want to thank Highland Tourism CIC for the opportunity to hear about its ideas for achieving our shared ambitions for the Highlands and further harnessing the region’s tourism potential – which is enormously popular with visitors from near and far – while addressing the pressing challenges of the area.

 “We all have a stake in the Scottish tourism sector, and I welcome Highland Tourism’s focus on working with the private sector. Together we can make Scotland one of the most economically, environmentally and socially sustainable destinations in the world.”

Yvonne Crook, Chair of Highland Tourism CIC said: “We are grateful to the Minister for his time in discussing many issues that are important our 170 Ambassadors across the region, the tourism businesses which we represent, and the communities which inspire us. This was yet another milestone in the progress of the organisation and takes us another step closer to achieving our goal of establishing the Highlands as a world class 

Highland Tourism CIC is optimistic about the outcomes of this meeting and the future of Highland tourism. The organisation is dedicated to implementing strategies that were discussed and believes that these initiatives will significantly contribute to the region’s economic and environmental sustainability.

Chris O’Brien, Highland Tourism CIC board member and Managing Director of Nevis Range Mountain Experience where the meeting was hosted, said: “We were delighted to host this meeting and for the Minister to get a first-hand look at the many activities we provide for thousands of visitors all year round. The discussions were worthwhile and we continue to grow.”