Council’s Commitment To Highland Tourism Industry

The Highland Council’s Planning Environment and Development Committee today agreed funding of £495,000 towards VisitScotland’s local operations in recognition of the fact that Tourism is the Highland’s biggest industry. This contribution helps strengthen the close working relationship between the Council and VisitScotland that has been forged since the 2005 reorganisation of VisitScotland.

With VisitScotland’s funding government being used for central services and national marketing activity the level of local activity that can be undertaken is dependent on local funding – primarily from local authorities. The Council’s funding therefore ensures that key services such as a dedicated Highland brochure and a network of Tourist Information Centres across the Highlands are retained.

The funding will also allow for additional projects to benefit the Highland tourism industry such as enhanced marketing in the cities with new air routes to Inverness and marketing in Scandinavia to support the Smyril Line ferry that sails into Scrabster. Joint activity between the Council and VisitScotland in the last year has seen the number of sailings on this route increased bringing an expected increase in passengers from 5000 in 2007 to 7000 this year.

Prior to today’s decision, VisitScotland’s Chief Executive Philip Riddle presented to the Council’s Planning Environment and Development Committee. As well as outlining VisitScotland’s proposed activities for the coming year Mr Riddle also described how VisitScotland with partners can work towards achieving the government’s target of increasing the value of tourism by 50% by 2015.

After the presentation he said:  “I was delighted to be here today and glad to see the priority the Council is giving to developing the tourism industry.  The session has been very valuable in getting feedback on the progress made as well as looking forward to the future. By offering spectacular scenery and a distinct culture along with a wide range of attractions and activities the Highlands is well placed to capture much of this new business.”

Chairman of the Committee, Councillor Drew Hendry said:  “We’ve literary pushed tourism to the top of the agenda.  A quarter of the £4.2 billion tourism brings to the Scottish economy is generated in the Highlands so we have a very important role to play.  All of the £495,000 of funding will be spent in the Highlands on Highland projects.  Sustainable tourism is a growing industry which is becoming very competitive so we need to use partnership working to ensure the best use of every pound.”

Notes for editors

Tourism is the Highlands’ largest industry and in 2006 accounted for
• £637million of direct expenditure
• £153million of indirect expenditure
• 14,500 jobs (14% of the workforce) – excluding the tourism related self employed

UK residents made 1.93million tourist trips to the Highland area in 2006 with visitors from overseas making a further 0.52million trips.

Smyril Line commenced sailings from Iceland, the Faeroes and Norway to Scrabster in 2007 carrying around 5000 inbound passengers. Schedule changes and additional marketing of the route are expected to lead to around 7000 passengers coming into Scotland in 2008.
Philip Riddle was appointed Chief Executive of VisitScotland on 16 July 2001. In 2007 he was awarded an OBE for services to the tourist industry.


28 May 2008