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It's open season in the Highlands

Press Release   •  Apr 18, 2017 15:04 BST

Scott Armstrong, VisitScotland Regional Partnerships Director for the Highlands

A World War II Festival, Highland gatherings and cycle sportives are amongst events due to take place in the Highlands over the summer months.

The tourism season will soon be getting underway once again, with a host of activities, things to see and do, and fresh and tasty locally-sourced food and drink on offer.

Scott Armstrong, VisitScotland Regional Partnerships Director, said he was looking forward to another fantastic year:

“As we progress towards the 2017 season, we have much to be excited about. We have just seen the opening of the Inverness Castle North Tower viewing platform – the first element in the redevelopment of the castle into a major visitor attraction – which will add significantly to the city’s draw as a global tourism destination.”

2017 marks Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology and there are events taking place in the Highlands to mark this theme.

One such new event, the Loch Ewe World War II Festival, is being held in May in Loch Ewe and Aultbea, to showcase the intrepid Russian Arctic Convoys that braved the North Atlantic passage to Russia in extreme weather and war-time conditions. Once described by Sir Winston Churchill as the “the worst journey in the world” they brought support to our ally in what was a vital strategic war effort.

The two-day extravaganza of military and naval re-enactments will be complemented with a movie night, Highland Swing band, D-Day Darlings singers to reminisce along with some serious vintage glamour and military style.

Another event takes place at Fort George at Ardersier on the anniversary weekend of the D-Day landings in June, where visitors can meet World War II soldiers who will teach them about the important role the fort and the surrounding landscape played.

Scott said: “We are anticipating another good season in terms of our popular annual events, including the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup at Fort William, Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival, Loopallu, Etape Loch Ness, the Highland Military Tattoo and Highland Games, including the Isle of Skye, Assynt, Glenfinnan and City of Inverness.

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 look forward to continuing our work with the North Highland Initiative and other partners, to ensure we capitalise on the amazing success that the route has enjoyed so far.”

Scott added: “VisitScotland Expo is be taking place at the end of April in Glasgow and once again the Highlands will be well-represented to international buyers with a whole host of businesses, including Cawdor Castle, the Highland Folk Museum, Achnagairn Estate, Nevis Range, Tour Skye Ltd and Venture North.”

The tourism horizon in the Highlands – and indeed Scotland - is constantly changing and VisitScotland has positively responded to the change in the way in which visitors are accessing information and inspiration about their holiday, as well as the welcome they receive when arriving in Scotland.

Scott said: “We have been working with businesses in the tourism industry over the last year or more to take advantage of advances in digital technology and while there is still a lot of work to do, we are pleased with the number of businesses signing up to schemes such as the VisitScotland Information Partner Scheme and digital training opportunities.

“The way we market the Highlands is also changing. With the huge reach potential of digital and social media, we will be focusing on producing digital content for uploading to the major media resources including Facebook, You Tube, Twitter and Instagram. This gives us a huge opportunity to build joint resources which can be used by the industry and provides a much greater reach than was ever thought possible by traditional means.

“I am very much looking forward to the coming season and I trust that both industry and visitors be delighted with the opportunities afforded to them throughout the coming year.”

Notes to Editors

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  • VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
  • The organisation’s core objective is to contribute to the Tourism 2020 Strategy ambition of growing tourism revenues by £1 billion by 2020.
  • 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
    6. Inclusive Tourism: we will strive to make tourism in Scotland inclusive and available to all
    7. Working in Partnership: we will listen to and work with the industry, partners and communities to shape our offering and support
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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.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is supported by £570,000 of Scottish Government funding.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
  • For more information visit visitscotland.com/HHA2017 or join the conversation at #HHA2017