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Visitors receive VIP treatment in Dornoch

Press Release   •   May 08, 2018 11:04 BST

Volunteers Peter Wild, Anthea Bannatyne, Joan Bishop, Anne Coombs, Tony Rundle, Annie Macdonald, VisitScotland Chair, John Thurso, and Curator Lynne Mahoney

A five star museum that keeps the story of Dornoch alive for visitors has become part of an impressive network of VisitScotland Information Partners (VIPs) committed to providing local information to visitors.

Historylinks is an independent museum run by Dornoch Heritage SCIO, whose success has been possible thanks to a number of volunteers who support the curator and seasonal assistant.

Local history featured within its walls includes a display on the impact of the Clearances locally, sections on crofting and geology, as well as local notable people. Exhibits include the original Royal Dornoch Golf Club clock, a 200-year-old winch which played an important part in the Highland transport revolution and a 13th century seal matrix, which would have been used to ensure that a letter arrived unopened and unread.

The museum signed up to become a VIP following free World Host customer service training organised by VisitScotland through Dornoch Area Community Interest Company (DACIC) – a volunteer-led organisation that works with businesses to promote Dornoch as a visitor destination. VisitScotland Chairman John Thurso presented staff at the museum with their VIP and World Host certificates on Thursday.

The national tourism organisation has been working in partnership with DACIC for some time, to offer training and to help raise customer service standards within member businesses. The Dornoch Visitor Centre, located within the Carnegie Courthouse, also became a VIP in 2017. Historylinks joins another 84 VIPs in the North Highlands, five of which are in Dornoch (including Historylinks).

This new official accreditation will further improve the visitor experience and add value to the service Historylinks offers, making it easier than ever before for visitors to connect with local businesses.

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.

Joan Bishop, Chair of DACIC said: “Working in partnership with VisitScotland has enabled us to raise Dornoch’s profile, extend our tourist season and develop our volunteers and staff to ensure visitors get a great experience. We are delighted that Lord Thurso has visited today and presented Historylinks Museum with their VIP accreditation.”

DACIC formed a business group to generate a joint marketing fund that enabled a successful bid to the VisitScotland Growth Fund in 2015, to raise awareness of Dornoch as a destination and increase visitor numbers and length of stay in the shoulder months.

Over 80 businesses continue to contribute annually to allow on-going investment in digital marketing through the VisitDornoch website and social media platforms, as well as providing staff in the Visitor Centre in the Carnegie Courthouse and a Dornoch Ambassador to meet and greet on the street.

John Thurso, VisitScotland Chairman, said: “It is fantastic to see Historylinks joining the many businesses across the Highlands who have already signed up to the VIP programme.

“Not only is it a wonderful local museum which tells a fascinating and detailed story of Dornoch’s past, but it’s also a friendly and welcoming place where visitors can expect a high standard of local knowledge.

“The VIP programme celebrates and supports tourism providers as they act as local ambassadors and help provide information, assistance and advice on all there is to see and do here.

“This follows a growing trend among consumers to use online resources to plan their trips and we now have partners throughout the country providing high quality information and advice to visitors with whom they interact.”

The programme forms part of VisitScotland’s focus on information which also includes a global online community to allow Scots and those who love Scotland to bring alive the streets, characters and landscapes of our country.

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 an official certificate 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.

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To find out more about the VisitScotland online community, visit:

For more information on Historylinks, visit

Notes to Editors

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2018 Year of Young People

  • The Year of Young People 2018 will be the next of the Scottish Government’s series of themed years, following the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017.
  • The Year of Young People (YoYP 2018) will inspire Scotland through its young people aged 8 to 26, celebrating their achievements, valuing their contributions to communities and creating new opportunities for them to shine locally, nationally and globally
  • Central to YoYP 2018 will be a celebratory events programme that puts young people at the heart of its development and delivery, creating new and valuable experiences for young Scots and the wider public, with links to the inaugural 2018 European Championships.
  • Over 200 young people throughout Scotland are currently being recruited to become YoYP 2018 Ambassadors. Ambassadors will ensure that people and organisations in their communities know about what’s happening and will lead on projects and activities to create events and opportunities to celebrate young people.
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