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Stornoway-bound for Board meeting

Press release   •   May 08, 2017 13:43 BST

Lord Thurso (centre) with Outer Hebrides' tourism representatives

VisitScotland Chairman John Thurso visited the world-famous Calanais Standing Stones as part of a recent visit to the Outer Hebrides with the national tourism organisation’s Board.

In Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archeology (YoHHA), Lord Thurso toured the Calanais Visitor Centre and visited the famous Calanais Standing Stones - a mysterious and impressive monument built 5,000 years ago - before meeting key representatives from the tourism industry, who were invited to join him for a round table discussion on tourism.

A number of local tourism representatives attended the meeting, including Angus Mackenzie, Manager of Calanais Visitor Centre; Donald MacArthur, from Loch Roag Guesthouse and Whitefalls Self Catering; Lynne Buchanan, Manager at Seatrek Tours and Caroline Maclennan, Manager of the Hebridean Celtic Festival.

The following day, the VisitScotland Board members held their meeting at Lews Castle, which was followed by a stakeholder lunch. As part of the Engagement Strategy of the VisitScotland Board, meetings will be held around the country to meet stakeholders and get a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing the tourism industry.

Stakeholders who attended the lunch included Alexander Macleod, Chief Executive of Stornoway Port Authority; Jim Currie, Fire Manager at Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL); Ian Fordham, Chairman of Outer Hebrides Tourism; Dr Ann Murray, Assistant Principal at Lews Castle College UHI; Markus Carrington, General Manager at Natural Retreats; Mairi Buchanan, Senior Development Manager at Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Iain MacAulay, Chairman of Comunn na Gàidhlig.

Following lunch, Board members enjoyed a guided tour of Lews Castle, by Markus Carrington, General Manager at Lews Castle, before hearing a presentation from Lynda Johnston, Head of Business Development at HIAL. This was followed by a meeting with Outer Hebrides Tourism.

Lord Thurso said: “This was a very interesting and informative visit to the Outer Hebrides, both for myself and VisitScotland Board members.

“It is very important that we, as the national tourism organisation, are always listening to our colleagues in the industry. Only by getting out and visiting the locations and people that really demonstrate the Spirit of Scotland can we do that effectively. This also gives us the opportunity to discuss the challenges they face as well as the fantastic job they are doing of selling the country to the world.

“It was very fitting that we were visiting the stunning Outer Hebrides during Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, as we were surrounded by the Gaelic language, Celtic roots, and the rich heritage of these islands, which is what brings visitors flocking here year on year.”

Ian Fordham, Chairman of Outer Hebrides Tourism said: “Outer Hebrides Tourism was delighted to meet with the VisitScotland Board in Stornoway. We discussed the importance of tourism to the local economy, and highlighted actions in place in the Outer Hebrides to grow our visitor numbers and value to local businesses.

“We are looking forward to an ever more close co-operation with VisitScotland, and especially to working with the marketing team to promote the Outer Hebrides to a worldwide audience.”

With over one third of visitors drawn to Scotland for its history and culture, VisitScotland has hailed the 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology as an exciting opportunity to relive Scotland’s fascinating past through a range of events and activities. Only recently, as part of World Heritage Day celebrations in the Outer Hebrides, participants built, excavated and explored the captivating archipelago of St Kilda through the popular Minecraft video game.

For more information on YoHHA visit

For more information on visiting the Outer Hebrides, visit

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 or join the conversation at #HHA2017