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Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID) Visit Inverness Loch Ness chief executive Michael Golding confirms a strong year despite Covid-19 and is optimistic for the future

By Ian Duncan

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Michael Golding at Dores beach.
Michael Golding at Dores beach.

An organisation aimed at promoting Loch Ness and Inverness has revealed significant growth in consumer interest at its Annual General Meeting (AGM).

The AGM was held virtually by Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID) Visit Inverness Loch Ness and evidence was taken from social media, online searches and feedback from tourism businesses in the area.

It was an opportunity for the team from Visit Inverness Loch Ness to report on the work undertaken during the pandemic to support its members and to ensure that the region remained high on the wish list for visitors from all over the world.

Highlights included:

• That every £1 received by the TBID from member businesses equates to £3.13 being invested in the area;

• The TBID organised 22 webinars for members which featured high profile speakers such as Kate Forbes MSP, Drew Hendry MP and Marc Crothall – chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance – and more than 500 businesses attended these events;

• Visit Inverness Loch Ness represented the destination at 150 online industry presentations;

• The TBID appointed the first Loch Ness ranger with partners at Highland Council thanks to funding from NatureScot Better Places 2 Fund;

• Visit Inverness Loch Ness has been awarded £80,000 from VisitScotland for marketing and this will see a November to March campaign centred on the themes of authentic experiences, wellbeing and workcations.

There was also a big push on marketing with Visit Inverness Loch Ness creating content for Inverness City Recovery Marketing; a project jointly funded by the Inverness Common Good Fund, Inverness BID, Visit Inverness Loch Ness and The Highland Council.

Further marketing activity undertaken by the TBID included a staycation campaign promoted on radio, a Welcome Back campaign in the Inverness Courier, a national See You Soon campaign, as well as the Dream Now Visit Later, the Best of Both Worlds and When Did You Last campaigns.

Michael Golding, the chief executive of Visit Inverness Loch Ness, said: “Despite the unprecedented challenge of the pandemic, I am incredibly proud of what we were able to achieve at Visit Inverness Loch Ness.

"We were there for our members when they needed us most, providing access to funding and business support and our growth in membership this past year is proof that tourism businesses in the region have confidence in our ability to deliver.”

He said they had really upped the ante with digital assets, investing in its image and video library and increasing the content fivefold so that our members can use this content to enhance their digital presence.

“This new content has led to significant growth in our social media following where we have a reach of 18 million, 62,000 followers, 615,000 engagements and 23,000 shares of our content. We are proud to continue to support our members via social media with 2,000 member inclusions over the last year. Our new website, created by the same agency as VisitScotland, was also a step changes and helps this destination and its businesses remain competitive,” he said.

“I am also optimistic about the future and there is a lot to look forward to. We have developed a Winter Wonder Highlands campaign, with VisitScotland and Lochaber Chamber of Commerce, which has already reached four million impressions and looks set to bring visitors to the region.

"We will also be bringing international social media influencers to our Inverness Influencer Lodge again next year. Our members have told us the initial recovery this summer has been beyond expectations and with our planned activity through the winter into 2022 we are optimistic this trend will continue.”

Jane Cumming, from Beauly based Downright Gabbler and Beauly Station, said: “It was good to hear about the campaigns being run on our behalf. As a new business due to start at the height of the pandemic we needed all the help we could get and we’ve found the team at TBID really helpful and approachable.

"We’re already seeing real interest in our offering which combines food and drink with storytelling, as well as high quality self-catering apartments. I’m pleased to say that bookings are already coming in for next year which is a great boost and our Opt In membership with Visit Inverness Loch Ness continues to be great value and support our recovery from the pandemic.”

• To find out more about the benefits of Visit Inverness Loch Ness membership for businesses, please visit here.

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