Highland tourism must not become victim of its own success warns expert
A VisitScotland boss says managing success has been one of the major challenges of his role in the Highlands in the past year.
Chris Taylor, VisitScotland regional leadership director for the Highlands and Outer Hebrides, said: “There is now a widespread recognition of tourism as a major driver of economic growth in the Highlands.
"Every community is touched by tourism, which creates jobs right across the region – 15,000 of them to be exact.
“There are around 2.2 million overnight visitors, totalling over nine million nights.
"While domestic tourism has slipped back slightly from 2017 levels our 512,000 international visits have seen both the length of stay and spend increasing.”
However, he also warned: “The Highlands has a global reputation and we need to ensure that every visitor has a quality experience when they visit.
“This relies on continued investment and innovation from the industry to consistently exceed expectations.”
Communities which have experienced challenges resulting from a rapid increase in visitor numbers can seek financial support to help deal with these issues through the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Funding (RTIF).
Mr Taylor pointed out that a further £3 million in funding has been announced for qualifying projects and £3 million has already gone to 13 Highland projects to address tourism pressure points in places such as Glenfinnan, Skye, Glenmore and along the North Coast 500.
“Our ambition is to continue to extend the season, encouraging visitors to explore the Highlands year-round and as well as to get off the beaten track and help spread the benefits of tourism to communities right across the region,” he added.