Highland tourism return must respect residents

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Tourism leaders in the Highland area have pledged to give visitors a ‘fantastic’ return but also be sensitive to community concerns about Covid.

The Highland Tourism Partnership, which collectively represents more than 2,000 businesses, said the views of local communities will be ‘key’ alongside the needs of the tourism sector.

Frazer Coupland, the partnership chair and representing Lochaber Chamber of Commerce, announced the reformation of the partnership which represents hotels, B&Bs, visitor attractions, guided tours, and food and drink.

Mr Coupland said: ‘The Highland Tourism Partnership has reconvened with a very clear intention.

‘We want to make sure that visitors to the Highlands have fantastic experiences, while also making sure that we balance that with community expectation and care for our iconic Highland location.’

Chris Taylor of VisitScotland.

Chris Taylor, VisitScotland’s regional director said tourism was vital to communities but it had to be done responsibly.

He said: ‘This last year has been the most challenging ever for tourism businesses across the country.

‘We know however, that tourism is very resilient and will bounce back, again helping to create vibrancy in our towns and cities, supporting businesses and creating much needed employment in our communities.

‘We can only achieve this by working together and I am delighted to be working with tourism leaders across Highland, through the Highland Tourism Partnership, to make sure we grab the opportunities ahead of us, and manage tourism in a responsible way that creates real benefits for everyone.’

It is bringing together destination organisations and public sector partners. These include Lochaber ‘Outdoor Capital of the UK’, North Coast 500 Ltd; VisitScotland; Highland Council; NatureScot; Wester Ross Tourism; Venture North; Visit Inverness Loch Ness; Cairngorms Business Partnership; Visit Moray Speyside; and Skye Connect.

The HTP has also agreed four ‘priority pillars’ for the year ahead which are customer experience, skills, responsible tourism and collaboration.

These are in line with the national tourism strategy ‘Scotland Outlook 2030’ and local tourism strategies.

It said local communities are the ‘heart’ of the HTP’s approach to looking after and developing the Highlands for the long-term.