Far north listed among Lonely Planet's worldwide destinations for 2024
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Tourists around the globe are being told that next year is the perfect time to visit the far north after the area was chosen by a top travel guide.
Lonely Planet included “Far North Scotland” among its 50 Best in Travel destinations for 2024.
The Caithness and Sutherland area is one of only two UK locations featured in the coveted annual list.
It is recognised in the top 10 regions in the world alongside locations such as Tuscany in Italy, Montana in the USA, southern Thailand and Donegal in Ireland.
The travel publication highlights the area’s special habitats with the Flow Country’s extensive blanket bog system, while focusing on the site’s aim to achieve Unesco World Heritage Site status.
Lonely Planet describes 2024 as “the perfect time to make a trip to the far north of Scotland, exploring both its unsung boggy interior and a coastline of heartbreaking beauty”.
Lord Thurso, the chairman of VisitScotland, said it was a huge achievement for the far north to be included on the Best in Travel list for 2024.
He said: “It shows that despite the challenges facing the industry, the world continues to recognise our distinct offering and the effort that goes into our renowned visitor experiences.
“Our scenery and landscape are among the things that makes Scotland so special. We all have a duty of care to preserve these natural assets for future generations. This is why VisitScotland is encouraging responsible travel, inspiring visitors to discover more of the region, stay longer, visit during quieter periods and take time to really immerse themselves in a destination.
“As a resident of the area, I can assure you that with its awe-inspiring landscapes and diverse offering, Caithness and Sutherland is an ideal location to do that. This helps support local tourism, in turn creating jobs, sustaining communities and contributing to the wider visitor economy.”
Dr Steven Andrews, Flow Country World Heritage project coordinator, pointed out that the extensive bog system stretches across over 200,000 hectares of the region.
He said: “Undoubtedly people will want to visit to see what makes it so special. As well as the value the blanket bog holds in fighting climate change, it has created a landscape of immense beauty.
“It really is a landscape that comes alive with colour in every season. Allied with the rugged north coast and the flagstone cliffs of the east, the far north of Scotland really is an incredible destination and therefore rightly recognised in the Lonely Planet’s best travel destinations for 2024.”
Tourism minister Richard Lochead described it as “gratifying” that the far north was being recommended alongside other renowned destinations.
“Our ambition to become a world leader in 21st century tourism is outlined in the national tourism strategy – Scotland Outlook 2030 – which highlights how we are growing our visitor economy in a sustainable and responsible way,” he said. “This honour shows that what Scotland has to offer is truly unique.”
Cathy Earnshaw, destination strategy manager for Venture North, the destination management organisation for tourism in Caithness and Sutherland, said: “We are delighted to be recognised as one of the top 10 regions to visit in the world. It is a true testament to our passionate local communities and the incredibly stunning natural environment of Caithness and Sutherland.”