Responsible tourism is top priority at North Highland Initiative conference

The conference will be taking place at Achnagairn Estate

THE North Highland Initiative has announced details of the region’s largest tourism conference to date, focusing on responsible tourism.

Taking place on Wednesday 30th October at Achnagairn Estate, at Kirkhill by Inverness, ‘Responsible Tourism – What Does It Mean For Your Business?’ is an opportunity for business owners and public sector professionals to exchange experiences, views and ideas, and to discuss the opportunities created by the success of the North Coast 500 route.

The North Highland Initiative has partnered with the Federation of Small Businesses to deliver the conference, which will bring together more than 160 delegates from across the North Highland region for a day of talks, presentations and networking opportunities.

The conference will open with a presentation by Professor John Lennon, Director of the Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism Business Development at Glasgow Caledonian University, who will discuss the findings of his official North Coast 500 evaluation report.

Published earlier this month, the official North Coast 500 evaluation report found that the NC500 route generated more than £22.89 million in Gross Value Added (GVA) throughout 2018, created 180 full time equivalent jobs in the North Highlands within the same time period, and boosted visitors numbers to paid attractions by 41.7%.

Speakers will include Councillor Carolyn Wilson, who will discuss the Cromarty Firth ward and how the area has adapted to the tourist market, and David Whiteford, Chair of the North Highland Initiative, who will unveil the company’s new vision for responsible tourism throughout the region.

David Whiteford, Chair of the North Highland Initiative, said:

“Economic growth and business development throughout the North Highland region are top priorities for the North Highland Initiative. The North Coast 500 route has been phenomenally successful in promoting the area as a whole, and has played an enormous role in boosting investment in the area, to the tune of more than £22million in 2018 alone.

“Looking ahead to 2020, our focus must now centre not only on identifying further opportunities for businesses to benefit from this economic boost, but also on responsible tourism and ways in which we can support North Highland communities in order to ensure that tourism growth is sustainable.

“Our autumn conference, ‘Responsible Tourism – What Does It Mean For Your Business?’ is an opportunity for businesses throughout the North Highlands to work together – to meet for one day, but ultimately to strengthen collaborations for weeks and months to come.

“I look forward to welcoming businesses owners and representatives from across the North Highlands to Achnagairn Estate on the 30th October. Spaces are free, however seats are booking up fast, so please do reserve your ticket as soon as possible to avoid disappointment!”

The Federation of Small Businesses Highlands & Islands Area Leader and director of the Kylesku Hotel, Tanja Lister, said: “It is hard to think of an industry where businesses are more interdependent than tourism. While healthy competition between local businesses should always exist, it is much more important that we all work together to keep our customers happy, contributing positively to the North Highlands’ reputation as a great place to holiday in the process. We really are all in it together and cooperation and collaboration are essential.

“For most of the year our business-owner noses are pressed to the grindstone, with little time to think about anything but the here and now, and I believe passionately that conferences like these have a vital role to play in raising our games. Time out sharing experiences and discussing how we can improve as individuals and by working together is time well spent.

“This conference is about helping ourselves, each other, and our great area do even better, and I hope that as many business owners as possible will attend.”

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