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Highland MSP Kate Forbes becomes ambassador for regional tourism body

By Philip Murray

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Kate Forbes MSP (right) with Yvonne Crook, chair of Highland Tourism Community Interest Company, at Loch Ness. Picture: Trevor Martin Photography.
Kate Forbes MSP (right) with Yvonne Crook, chair of Highland Tourism Community Interest Company, at Loch Ness. Picture: Trevor Martin Photography.

A Highland politician is hoping to lead the way in developing the region as a "world-leading sustainable" tourist destination after she was handed a key business 'ambassador' role.

Kate Forbes, who is the MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, has been appointed as a Highland Tourism Community Interest Company (CIC) ambassador.

And one of her early tasks will be working alongside Highland Tourism CIC to host a roadshow in the coming months to encourage business and community leaders to link up and discuss ways to help ensure the area becomes a world-leader in sustainable development – and also help drive the regeneration of the Highlands.

Her wider role will also see her support the membership organisation’s other efforts to create a world-leading sustainable destination in the Highlands.

Ms Forbes has previously supported the tourism industry as a local MSP, and finance secretary. She will engage with the tourism sector across the Highlands, focussing on strategic tourism development.

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Ms Forbes said: “Highland Tourism CIC’s approach, which is community driven and has private sector investment and buy-in, makes economic and cultural sense. I believe they will get things done, creating immediate and long-term positive impact.

“I am delighted to provide support as an ambassador for the tourism industry. I will do all I can to support Highland Tourism’s ambitions to make significant investment in tourism development for the region and have proposed a series of meetings with business leaders to explore how we can work more closely in the region to make the Highlands attractive to visitors and businesses from around the world.

There are 150 ambassadors in the organisation with a board of directors comprising leading tourism businesses in the region such as Cabot Highlands and Nevis Range. The CIC has had private sector investment to the value of £400,000, of which £150,00 comes from founding sponsorship from Tomatin Distillery.

Yvonne Crook, chairman of Highland Tourism CIC said: “This is a huge boost to our efforts, to have such a hard-working and knowledgeable MSP providing her support. Highland Tourism CIC was established in 2020 with an ambition to invest millions of pounds annually in a tourism strategy that will transform the way we do tourism. Kate has encouraged our work since the very early days and has made a number of fantastic suggestions for progress.

"To have her join our ambassadors underlines the fact that we are here to stay and that we have significant potential value to offer the tourism sector and the Highlands as both a brand and a destination. We are working to unite all key stakeholders and Highland brands behind a regenerative tourism strategy that will enhance our communities, our economy and our environment.

“We are very excited about Kate’s idea of a series of presentations throughout the Highlands to engage business leaders and we will provide more details on that as we finalise our plans.”

Chris O’Brien, managing director of Nevis Range and HTCIC director added: “We have a unique network of ambassadors at all levels of tourism across the Highlands that believe there is a more sustainable way to do tourism business and a far greater opportunity for the Highlands as a whole if we invest together.

"Premium environmental brand Highlands will enable us to attract higher value visitors and invest more in climate change and nature crisis both financially and through our businesses and visitors contributions. We are delighted our ambassador network is now hugely enhanced with Kate’s agreement to give us her support.”

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