Loch Ness adventure challenge falls victim to coronavirus crisis
A THREE day showcase adventure race event around Scotland's most famous loch, the Loch Ness 360° Challenge, has been postponed until next year as the coronavirus crisis deepens.
The challenge, which was to have taken place for the first time on Sunday May 31, was to have included three marathons over three days around the shores of the loch, a one day mountain biking challenge and an overnight 129km ultramarathon.
Organised by Scotland's first tourism Business Improvement District (BID), Visit Inverness Loch Ness (VILN), the event was designed to showcase the area and is hoped to become a regular feature of the adventure sports calendar.
VILN chief executive Michael Golding said: "Postponing the Loch Ness 360° Challenge is the right thing to do at this challenging time. The team and I are working hard to find a suitable date for 2021 and will provide an update to all of our participants, sponsors and stakeholders, who have been overwhelmingly supportive throughout.
"Our course is over 80 miles in length and there are five events taking place over three days, it therefore requires a significant effort from the team to reschedule the event. We ask for your patience during this time as we look to finalise a date for the first Loch Ness 360° Challenge in 2021."
VILN is also responding to the Covid-19 crisis by deferring all membership levy invoice payments for a period of six months in recognition of the devastating impact the situation will have on the tourism industry over the coming months.
Invoices for the tourism BID levy are issued at the start of the financial year and would, under normal circumstances, have a payment date of the end of May. This announcement means the businesses of the local tourism industry will not have to pay the invoice until the end of November.
The six-month deferral period will allow over £200,000 of cashflow to remain with the businesses during this difficult time.
Mr Golding said: "We are pleased to announce the deferral of our membership levy to support our members through what was a previously unimaginable challenge. The people and businesses in our tourism industry have shown great leadership in reacting swiftly to Covid-19, protecting their staff and supporting the needs of their local community. By working together and acting responsibly we will tackle and overcome the challenge which we all face."
VILN chairman Graeme Bell added:"This deferral, made in partnership with Highland Council, recognises the extraordinary situation faced by the local tourism industry as a result of Covid-19. It forms part of the wider VILN strategy to support the members through this unprecedented challenge. The board and I would like to thank the team for their immediate action to protect the member businesses during this crisis."