New Investment In Tourism
36 million over three years to boost Highland & IslandsTourism
7 August 2001

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A massive 36 million investment to help re-build the fortunes of tourism businesses throughout the Highlands and Islands over the next three years was announced today (Tuesday, 7 August 2001) by Tourism Minister Alasdair Morrison. 

Two special programmes developed and run by the Highlands and Islands Enterprise network will assist quality and competitiveness improvements by several hundred businesses and help create 600 jobs in the area's tourism industry.  The Minister launched HIE Activity and HIE Standards-3 programmes - which have also attracted major European funding - at the Caley Marina boat cruising centre in Inverness.  HIE Activity will target providers in the activity and special interest holidays sector like Caley Marina, while HIE Standards-3 focuses on improved standards of accommodation from hotels and guest houses to bunkhouse and campsite businesses. 

Tourism Minister Alasdair Morrison (right) and Highlands & Islands Enterprise Chief Executive Sandy Cumming

HIE Activity will see a 3.3 million investment from the HIE Network which will be matched with 2.7 million under the European Union's Highlands and Islands Special Transitional Programme (HISTP), alongside a target private sector investment of 12 million.  Support will go to activity holiday providers in three broad categories: * Activity/Wildlife/Adventure, encompassing everything from mountaineering to angling, ski-ing to cycling, as well as more passive activities or special interest pursuits such as crafts or languages. 

* Interpretation/Events/Festivals, this would allow the improvement of interpretation facilities for tourists as well as assisting with the organisation and running of events, performances and festivals.

* Cruising and Sailing, enabling the provision of pontoons and moorings for visiting yachts.  With most visitors to Scotland each year taking part in some sort of sporting or cultural activity, the HIE-Activity programme will help businesses across the Highlands and Islands tap into this growing market through improved provision and the aim is to help realise more than 300 new jobs.

Under HIE Standards-3 assistance will be available to accommodation providers in all sectors to extend or improve the quality of their facilities.  HIE will invest 3.6 million, with a further 2.4 million coming from HISTP. Businesses themselves will invest an estimated 12 million.  Under the previous HIE Standards programmes 324 businesses invested 24 million which was matched with 4 million from the HIE Network, creating an estimated 700 jobs. 

Both programmes will also encourage visitors to stay longer in the Highlands and Islands - bringing increased revenue and underpinning tourism employment.  Chief executive of Highlands and Islands Enterprise Sandy Cumming said: "Tourism is an industry which brings benefits to every community of the Highlands and Islands, and both HIE-Activity and HIE Standards-3 have the potential to develop this even further. For example in the activity holiday category, sailing benefits the rural west coast; wildlife or cultural-based holidays can benefit the Western Isles; green and heritage tourism brings visitors to Orkney and Shetland; and whisky tourism brings people to Moray. 

"Alongside improvements in the activity sector it is vital that accommodation providers across the board compete through global quality standards in the facilities and services they are offering their customers.  That's where HIE-Standards-3 will make a contribution. Where the Highlands and Islands may not be able to compete with other destinations on a cost basis - we
are a high quality destination, visitors expect a high level of comfort and service and the reality must match that expectation. 

HIE's director of growing businesses Douglas MacDiarmid said: "While changing market forces and setbacks such as foot and mouth effects have affected businesses the length and breadth of the Highlands and Islands, the industry has to look beyond this and seek to move forward with continued improvements. Both these programmes will help businesses invest to compete and raise the area's reputation as a quality destination."


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