Scottish tour operator on the road to growth thanks to £2m funding

29/05/2024

A TRAVEL operator offering unique experiences of the Scottish Highlands has upgraded its existing fleet thanks to a £2m funding boost from Lombard, part of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group.

Headquartered on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, Highland Experience Tours has chartered trips that offer tourists an alternative way to explore Scotland’s rural landscapes since it was founded nearly two decades ago.

Ran by a team of expert tour guides, Highland Experience’s trips focus on exploring less travelled routes, meaning customers can enjoy an authentic travel experience and avoid notoriously crowded spots.

Starting out with just one vehicle, the firm’s leadership team has since grown its fleet to nearly 30 luxury mini-buses and small to full size coaches. Lombard’s support will allow Highland Experience to purchase an additional five Grand Toro coaches – a move which will result in the creation of more than 20 new jobs and a boost to the rural economies it works in.

The travel provider is committed to promoting sustainable tourism and has been awarded a Gold Green Tourism Business Award in recognition of its work to protect the environment, prioritising local suppliers wherever possible and providing eco-friendly driving training to its coach operators.

Despite enjoying steady growth since 2005, the firm faced unprecedented challenges during the pandemic and was forced to downsize its previous fleet in 2020. This new investment marks a renewed period of growth for the team, who are currently gearing up for the 2024 summer season as they prepare to welcome more customers on board.

The £2m deal was afforded by Lombard and managed by Royal Bank of Scotland.

Michael Bremmer, Managing Director at Highland Experience Tours, said: “Ever since we first started Highland Experience Tours, we have been passionate about creating an authentic way to explore Scotland’s hidden beauty which also gives back to the communities and landscapes we operate in.

“Like many in our industry, Covid was an incredibly challenging time for us, and we had to essentially halt our services with no real idea of when we’d be able to begin again. This obviously took its toll, but we remained determined to come back stronger than ever and have been able to grow the business to beyond even pre-pandemic levels.

“Investing in this new fleet marks a new chapter for us, and we’re incredibly grateful for the support of Royal Bank of Scotland and Lombard in helping us reach this milestone.”

Steven Gillies, Senior Relationship Manager at Royal Bank of Scotland who facilitated the deal with Lombard added: “Having worked with Highland Experience Tours since 2019, it’s been a privilege to watch the team recover from the pandemic and continue to grow their services and offering.

“Royal Bank of Scotland is committed to supporting enterprise and Highland Experience Tours is a great example of a resilient business who are focussed on looking to the future.

“Its unique approach to tourism is helping to promote Scotland’s rural landscapes to the world – bringing a significant economic boost to the communities within them – and we look forward to continuing our banking relationship for years to come.”

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