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Information takes route in Highlands

Press Release   •   Oct 10, 2017 13:52 BST

The road to Kinlochewe with Loch Maree beyond on North Coast 500

VisitScotland and the North Coast 500 (NC500) have today announced a unique partnership to drive up quality and information provision in businesses along Scotland’s answer to Route 66.

The collaboration will ensure that the tens of thousands of visitors who embark on the route every year will have more access than ever before to information on what to see and do while on their journey.

The agreement will mean that the 261 businesses who are business members of the NC500 destination group will be able to become VisitScotland Information Partners (VIPs) for free, ensuring they are equipped to advise, inform and inspire visitors from all over the world. They will also be given a listing on the national tourism organisation’s website visitscotland.com - which receives 20 million sessions per year.

The innovative VisitScotland Information Partnership (VIP) scheme is designed to allow those working within the tourism industry to become local ambassadors for their town or region by providing first-class information to visitors. Launched in May 2016, the VIP programme harnesses the local knowledge, warmth and enthusiasm of partners across the country to help visitors receive the warmest of welcomes and make the most of their trip to Scotland.

The scheme is open to all Quality Assured businesses, as well as community groups, local authority-operated library services and social enterprises. VisitScotland provides the partner sites with official signage and collateral, promotional material and information resources to make sure visitors receive an excellent standard of information about the area and the rest of Scotland. There are currently over 1500 VIPs across Scotland.

The national tourism organisation and NC500 have also committed to working jointly to boost quality of business along the route and will work together on a series of joint roadshows in 2018 focussed on the quality of the visitor experience.

The alliance will begin today and both organisations are confident that it will build upon the already outstanding visitor experience on the 516-mile route through the Highlands, which has become a global phenomenon in just two years.

Referred to as Scotland’s answer to Route 66, the NC500 was created by the North Highland Initiative (NHI). Its aim was to boost tourism in the North Highlands and generate economic opportunities for the area.

A study, carried out by the University of Glasgow Training and Employment Research Unit, estimates the route attracted 29,000 additional visitors and £9 million additional spend in its first year.

Chris Taylor, Regional Partnerships Director at VisitScotland said:

“Scotland’s very own answer to Route 66, the North Coast 500 has been one of the biggest tourism success stories of recent years. The route has captured the imagination of visitors around the globe while also providing a fantastic boost to tourism businesses in the Highlands.

“We’re delighted to be announcing this collaboration with NC500. This partnership is not only unique but also hugely important, allowing us to ensure visitors to the route have the best quality experience possible while in the country.

“VisitScotland’s Information Partnership programme aims to ensure that all tourism providers can be local ambassadors and help provide, assistance and advice on all there is to see and do here, including highlighting hidden gems that take visitors off the beaten track and in turn alleviate particularly busy areas.

“We look forward to continuing our work with the NC500 and other partners, ensuring we capitalize on amazing success that the route has enjoyed so far.”

Tom Campbell, Managing Director, North Coast 500, said:

“The North Highlands have benefited from the creation of the North Coast 500 with more jobs and new investment coming into the area. This welcome added benefit for our business partners will help them make the most of the opportunity the North Coast 500 represents when it comes to marketing themselves to a national and international audience.”

For more information about the North Coast 500, visit here

Notes to Editors

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  • This will be supported by seven overarching strategies:
    1. Marketing: we will market Scotland and its outstanding assets to visitors from all parts of the world, including the promotion of Scotland to people living in Scotland to visit different parts of the country
    2. Events: we will support the national events strategy and its delivery, and sustain, develop and promote Scotland’s international profile as one of the world’s foremost events destinations
    3. Internationalisation and International Engagement: we will utilise all our platforms to enable Scottish-based tourism businesses to better understand international opportunities and market to a global audience and we will work within One Scotland Partnerships to optimise the potential of Scotland’s Diaspora and our strategic partners at regional, European and global levels
    4. Customer Experience: we will provide information and inspiration to visitors both locally and globally via their preferred medium of choice
    5. Quality and Sustainability: we will provide support and advice to businesses, with the goal of improving the quality and sustainability of the tourism sector in Scotland. We will provide quality assurance to visitors through our Quality Schemes
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  • 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology
  • 2017 is the year to delve into the past and discover Scotland’s fascinating stories through a wide-ranging variety of new and existing activity to drive the nation’s tourism and events sector, boosting tourism across Scotland.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology begins on 1 January 2017 and will end on 31 December 2017. It will build on the momentum generated by previous themed years in Scotland including the 2015 Year of Food and Drink, Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Creative Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Built Environment Forum Scotland, Heritage Lottery Fund, Museums Galleries Scotland and Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland.
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