Lochaber is ours to enjoy…responsibly

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Lochaber Chamber of Commerce, as the custodians of Lochaber’s destination brand ‘The Outdoor Capital of the UK‘ has been working with VisitScotland and other key tourism partners during the pandemic to create a new Scotland-wide visitor management plan and marketing activity.

Last week VisitScotland announced a responsible tourism campaign with the title ‘Scotland – Yours to Enjoy. Responsibly’. This campaign aims to raise awareness of the importance of exploring the outdoors responsibly with the focus on asking people to leave no trace of their visit and protect Scotland’s stunning countryside. This campaign will also help to share responsible tourism messages via social media using the hashtag #RespectProtectEnjoy.

The campaign includes a responsible tourism film and script which will be broadcast across radio, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram alongside billboard and outdoor digital screen advertising in all of Scotland’s main cities. This work will be supported by a dedicated responsible tourism page on visitscotland.com, and advice for the tourism sector on the corporate website.

The Education and Marketing Group is led by VisitScotland along with partner organisations , including Lochaber Chamber of Commerce, working together to influence people across Scotland to enjoy our outdoor spaces more and in a respectful way.

Some of the issues the groups have been addressing since last year include:

  • Littering – dropping and leaving litter, leaving camping equipment, broken glass
  • Environmental damage and fire hazards – damaging fences and signage; lighting fires in unauthorised locations or in unsafe ways, felling trees, damaging surrounding wildlife, and risking spread of wildfires
  • Unsafe waste disposal – people not using designated toilets or appropriate facilities and leaving waste outdoors
  • Poor preparation – a lack of understanding of rapid weather change and challenging terrains, sometimes resulting in visitors getting into trouble or requiring assistance
  • Traffic and inappropriate parking – increased demand on hot spots, parking in passing places or areas that are not safe or block access to land managers or residents

Whilst the new campaign will be visible over the forthcoming weeks and month, the collaborative marketing and communications work across the groups will continue throughout the year as tourism begins to reopen.

A family enjoy a country walk on the foot trail at Conic Hill. Photography of the responsible tourism video.

Working together for the good of everyone

Tourism businesses are at the very heart of Lochaber’s business community. Throughout this incredibly hard year, tourism has been one of the hardest hit of all industries. At Lochaber Chamber we’ve worked hard to help support all our tourism businesses – offering practical support and advice and creating one of the first track & trace apps to help hospitality businesses easily record the customer details they were required to keep.

At the Chamber we’re passionate about working together for the benefit of everyone in Lochaber. As members of Lochaber Chamber of Commerce, our business members are also part of a network of over 12,000 businesses throughout Scotland that make up the Scottish Chambers of Commerce network. That gives us a strong collective voice to stand up for what our businesses need.

Throughout the pandemic we’ve worked closely with our colleagues at the other Highland Chambers to support each other and we’re delighted to be a part of the Highland Tourism Partnership.

The Highland Tourism Partnership brings together destination organisations, Visit Scotland, HIE and Highland Council to ensure a joined-up approach to the challenges and opportunities that tourism in the highlands faces as we plan for the re-opening of the sector.

There are four key pillars to the work of the Highland Tourism Partnership – Survival & Recovery; Visitor Management; Talent Attraction and Visitor Experience.

 

The first priority the Highland Tourism Partnership will focus on is Visitor Management and Recovery. Working across the agencies, the partnership will ensure that businesses are well positioned to fully embrace the work that has been carried out throughout lockdown, that includes Education and Marketing, Infrastructure and Investment, Prevention, Regulation and Reassurance.

 

 

Frazer Coupland, CEO of Lochaber Chamber, has recently been appointed Chair of the Highland Tourism Partnership. He believes working together is vital for our communities as well as our visitors:

“The time is right for uniting the extraordinary work of the Highland destinations, delivering crystal clear messages in order that visitors, businesses, our valued communities, economies and our natural environment can enjoy a vibrant future. We can only do this if we work together.”

Chris Taylor, Regional Leadership Director at VisitScotland said:

“As we look ahead, it is crucial that we all work together to help manage tourism in a responsible way. Consumer trends still show strong demand for the Highlands in the future – visitors are still keen to explore our scenery, landscape, culture, and heritage when it is safe to do so. Importantly, Scottish people are also rediscovering their own country.

In 2020 we saw visitors seek out opportunities to slow down, to linger a bit longer and to support the great many local producers of food, art, crafts, and textiles. We can build on this. We can work together to improve the crucial infrastructure that our visitors rely on, but that our local people benefit from too. And we can help spread the season, ease and manage pressure at honeypot sites and help communities to derive real benefit from tourism.”

 

Tourism assistance at the tap of an app

Lochaber Chamber of Commerce was one of the first organisations in Scotland to create a bespoke track & trace app to help hospitality businesses easily record the customer details they needed to keep.

This easy-to-use mobile web app was made available for free to all Lochaber hospitality businesses and will be available for all businesses to use when hospitality opens up again to local guests on 26th April.

Businesses can sign up to the app to get ready for reopening now – simply visit protect.outdoorcapital.co.uk and follow the simple steps to sign up and take the hassle out of managing guest details.

 

Plus, if you’re looking for all the latest insights into tourism check out HIE’s ‘Tune into Tourism’ podcasts, back for a new series very soon.

The ‘Tune into Tourism’ podcast is designed to offer you a great way to access relevant advice and information wherever and whenever suits you. Just subscribe to the podcast and listen whenever you fancy – walking the dog, doing maintenance, or relaxing with a cuppa.

The series will look at a number of common themes impacting tourism businesses and the sector as we look forward to re-opening and restarting the tourism industry.

Initial episodes will tackle topics including staff returning to work, resourcing, wellbeing, and operational issues amongst others. Tourism businesses from Lochaber and Skye will feature in episodes on Tuesday 13th and Wednesday 14th April.

Never miss an episode – search for ‘Tune into tourism’ and sign up to hear what’s coming up.

 

 

 A taste of…the West Coast Wild Food Festival!

Prepare for some delicious news! Lochaber Chamber of Commerce has exciting plans to host an outdoor ‘West Coast Wild Food Festival’ in the Outdoor Capital of the UK this May (restrictions permitting).

We all know that Lochaber is home to world-class food and drink producers and has a wealth of great places to eat. Now that things are opening up again, Lochaber Chamber of Commerce believes the time is right to celebrate the amazing variety of fresh local produce that we’re lucky enough to have right here on our doorstep.

We’re inviting local chefs to participate in an outdoor cooking celebration that highlights our fantastic fresh produce, drink, and amazing scenery, while also showcasing the best ways to explore and cook responsibly in the great outdoors.

We’ll be supplying all the outdoor cooking equipment – all each of our plucky chefs has to do is create a delicious meal in a stunning outdoor location, using the best fresh and foraged local food and drink that Lochaber’s natural larder has to offer!

We’ve already got lots of people interested in taking part – if you’re a food producer or chef and you’d like to join them, please contact us on

membership@lochaberchamber.co.uk.