Stuart Black, Director of Development and Infrastructure, The Highland Council
Tourism is the most significant industry in our region, which is why The Highland Council is a leading supporter.
The council is a key partner in the Highland Area Tourism Partnership and shares its vision for the Highlands to be a destination of first choice for a high quality, value for money and memorable customer experience, delivered by skilled and passionate people. It also works closely with VisitScotland and local destination management organisations throughout the area in support of the sector.
The authority’s new programme ‘Highland First’ emphasises the importance of the tourism industry to the regional economy. It states it will “strive to grow tourism by working with partners to retain and develop world class events and promote destination management”.
The council has also been a supporter of the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards since their inception. In a highly competitive industry visitors can choose from thousands of destinations and in order to continue to attract visitors local businesses need to maintain exceptionally high standards and continue to innovate. The sponsorship of awards that recognise quality is therefore an appropriate part of our contribution to the industry.
The HITAs recognise and reward excellence across this vital industry which reaches all parts of our area. Tourism supports 17,000 jobs in the Highlands and generates revenues worth over £740 million per annum and the council is keen to see these figures continue to grow.
Communities lie at the heart of a successful Highlands and a successful tourism industry. We generally support awards that recognise the role of community-based activity or that encourage innovation. A key attraction of the HITAs is that they have always been open to communities or businesses of any size and over the years we’ve seen some wonderful nominees and winners.
This year, despite the challenging financial climate, the council has reaffirmed its commitment to the 2016 World Mountain Biking Championships and the 2016 Scottish Open at Castle Stuart. Both these high profile events not only attract thousands of people to the area, they offer marketing exposure which helps ensure further visits over many years.
The council firmly believes that tourism is everyone’s business and is delighted to support the HITA awards in 2015.