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Business Focus: Inverness BID boss welcomes the return of public events as Christmas comes closer

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by Mike Smith, Inverness BID manager

I’m sure everybody recognises that the Christmas and new year period is a crucial trading time for both retail and hospitality businesses.

I always remember being told by a local independent retailer, whose business isn’t particularly Christmas-focused, that 40 per cent of their annual sales are achieved in the festive period!

For those in the food and hospitality sectors the figure is potentially higher.

Having missed out due to Covid restrictions last year, it is so important that we all work to make 2021 a financial success for these businesses.

In a normal year, city centre footfall would have the benefit from high profile events at Bonfire Night, the Christmas Lights Switch On and Hogmanay.

Recently appointed in the role as the council event delivery agent, I think High Life Highland has done a great job in looking to create a series of lower key “experiences” which still entertain the public but in a Covid-compliant way.

Their BOOtanics Halloween shows at the Botanic Gardens won rave reviews from those attending and by the time you read this, they will have staged a fireworks display fired from the safe confines of the Northern Meeting Park but visible throughout the city.

With BID being a member of Highland Council’s festivals committee it has been good to input into the programme for these and the rest of the year.

Alongside this involvement in the city’s economic and cultural wellbeing, BID is also proud to be a key participant in the annual Operation Respect festive safety initiative.

Connecting statutory agencies like police, council, fire and the NHS with third sector organisations like BID and the Street Pastors, this programme has widened from a city centre public safety Christmas initiative by adding focus on the community’s wellbeing, vulnerability and mental health.

In doing so the Operation Respect festive initiative recognises the societal changes brought about by the pandemic and looks to address these issues which are really important to community cohesion at what, for some, can be a difficult time of the year.

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