Bumper year for tourism in the Highlands

The Highlands have enjoyed a very successful tourism season in 2016. Scott Armstrong, Regional Partnerships Director, highlighted four fantastic features of the year:

Highland #ScotSpirit



VisitScotland’s global campaign – the Spirit of Scotland – was launched in February last year. The Highlands featured extensively throughout this activity. In addition, destination and tourism groups throughout the Highlands have been producing fantastic content and campaigns, and the Highlands have benefited from exposure in film and TV blockbusters.


Highlights include:
● More than 60 million views of our Spirit of Scotland short films which include the Old Man of Storr, Glenfinnan Viaduct, and Camusdarach Beach
● Dornoch becoming the only Scottish finalist in the British High Street Awards
● The region featuring in blockbusters including Stephen Spielberg’s BFG and BBC Scotland’s 'Scotland’s Wild Heart'.

Capitalise on this
Join in by sharing your #ScotSpirit on social media. There have been on average 1,000 uses of the hashtag per day since the launch. You can also share this fantastic content and news on your websites and social media. Find out more.

The rise of NC500



The North Coast 500 (NC500) is proving to be a tremendous success, capturing the imagination of visitors to Scotland and giving further opportunity to spread the economic benefits of tourism to Highland communities. Whilst we appreciate there is work to be done, particularly relating to infrastructure, there is much to celebrate.


This includes:
● Many businesses on the route reporting significant increases in visitors
● The total potential reach of NC500 VisitScotland promotional activity (including PR, marketing, Travel Trade exposure, direct email, and social media) reaching over 912.5 million potential visitors
● NC500 being credited as a key reason why Scotland is named the second top country to visit in 2017 by Rough Guides.

Capitalise on this
With so many visitors wanting to visit the Highlands, and sourcing information on the internet, make sure your business is visible and bookable online. A free web listing on is a fantastic platform for this. Find out how to claim and maximise your listing.

Abundant events



The region saw a great range of new and returning events in 2016. A total of £459,880 was invested by VisitScotland in events involving the Highlands in 2015/16.


Highlights include:
● A trio of global events in Inverness, supported by EventScotland - part of VisitScotland's event directorate: World Canals Conference, Social Travel Summit and Loch Ness KnitFest
● Record attendance (almost 22,000) at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Fort William
● Flagship cycling events including Etape Loch Ness and the Tour de Ben Nevis
● The AAM Scottish Golf Open, held at Castle Stuart.

Capitalise on this
This year also looks set to be a great year, with some fantastic projects on the horizon. Keep us informed of your events in 2017, and upload them to for fantastic exposure for free.

New developments and opportunities



The success of the year has given further impetus to the development of new products, services and innovations to harness new opportunities and help make the Highlands a must-visit, must-return destination going forward.


These include:
● Almost 120 Highlands businesses signing up to the new VisitScotland Information Partner (VIP) Programme.
● Gearing up for 2017 – Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology
● The launch of new flight routes to Inverness, including the British Airways Heathrow link and new daily flight from Inverness to Amsterdam with KLM
● The agreement and signing of the Inverness & Highland City Deal after several years of work. This will mean £315 million of funding, with £15 million allocated toward turning Inverness Castle into a visitor attraction.

Capitalise on this
Check out the VisitScotland industry toolkit for the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology and find out more about the VIP Programme. Keep your website, web listing and social media updated with new products, services and hooks.

Looking forward

With 2016 proving so popular with visitors to the Highlands and such a wide variety of things to see and do, Scott and the VisitScotland team are optimistic that tourism will continue to grow over the coming years.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank businesses and residents alike for their hard work this year welcoming people from near and far to the Highlands. Here’s to 2017!

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