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Inverness is open for business as Inverness BID, Visit Inverness Loch Ness and Highland Council work together on a new marketing blitz to welcome visitors back to the city after the coronavirus lockdown

By Ian Duncan

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Inverness BID manager Mike Smith,Visit Inverness Loch Ness chief executive Michael Golding and Highland Council city manager David Haas. Picture: Gary Anthony
Inverness BID manager Mike Smith,Visit Inverness Loch Ness chief executive Michael Golding and Highland Council city manager David Haas. Picture: Gary Anthony

Inverness’s leading business and tourism groups are joining forces to spearhead a post-lockdown recovery for the city.

In a move aimed at encouraging both locals and those from further afield to return to the Highland capital, Inverness Business Improvement District (BID) and Visit Inverness Loch Ness are working with Highland Council on a new marketing blitz.

They hope it will remind Inverness’s own population to “think local” and even explore the city as though they were a visitor, while also promoting Inverness as the ideal choice for short breaks, including overnight stays.

The £45,000 project is supported with £20,000 of Highland Council city recovery funds and marks the first time a specific budget has been set aside to promote the city as one destination using the combined knowledge and skills of both business improvement organisations.

Michael Golding, chief executive of Visit Inverness Loch Ness, said: “The project aims to encourage the responsible return of visitors, empower businesses in their recovery efforts and ensure the sizeable number of people who would love to visit the area are encouraged to do so in line with Scottish Government guidelines.

“The tourism, retail and hospitality sectors are being severely impacted by the pandemic. This, in real terms, puts businesses and jobs at risk while impacting the quality of life for local people – through opportunities for things to do and places to stay.

“This new collaborative recovery project puts the whole city of Inverness and surrounding areas in the strongest possible position, with a greater city appeal, by combining BID areas and the ability to engage more people through recovery activity.”

Mike Smith, manager of Inverness City Centre BID, said: “We are delighted to be joining with Visit Inverness Loch Ness and the Highland Council in this initiative to jointly promote the city of Inverness and the surrounding areas.

“All three parties are very committed to ensuring an early and sustainable recovery for businesses and tourism in the area.”

A total of 16 per cent of all jobs within the Inverness city area are believed to be within sustainable tourism growth sectors, compared with 8.3 per cent nationally.

Neighbouring areas across the Highlands are also heavily reliant on the success of Inverness tourism for their own sustainability and growth.

A recent UK-wide survey showed that, of people considering an overnight stay, 44 per cent would choose the Highlands, with Inverness itself coming out second only to Edinburgh in a choice of Scottish city destinations.

With the tourism and hospitality sectors such important drivers of the Highland economy, it is hoped that the targeted and responsive recovery effort here will help to spearhead a wider boost for the local economy.

A range of digital marketing activity is planned, including online campaigns and website development, with new video and images to be produced and shared with the combined business memberships of both BID organisations.

There will also be a move to host more “influencers” who can help spread the word about what Inverness and the Highlands have to offer, on social media and elsewhere.

David Haas, Highland Council’s city of Inverness area manager, said: “The council recognises the importance of working with the business community to enhance the supreme efforts being made by businesses across the city and area to provide a safe and attractive environment for locals and visitors.

“Support for this excellent joint initiative from the Inverness Common Good Fund is seen by the council as a key milestone on the path to recovery.

“The joint working between two key leading groups representing businesses from a broad range of sectors is considered very important to the recovery of business growth and the council looks forward to further opportunities to collaborate.”

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