Tuesday, 27 May 2008

A Few Days on the West Coast

We managed to escape for a couple of days over the weekend, despite being a Bank holiday weekend the weather was stunning and although we did quite a few miles it was a very relaxing break.

Now to the serious bit, the west coast was busy, the north coast was quiet.
So the tourists go to the west coast because it's better, no way, I think its more to do with people's perception of where to go for a holiday in Scotland.
The west coast is well known, has had a well developed tourist industry for many years, the north coast has not been promoted to the same level, people come here to go to John O'Groats, to catch the ferry to got to Orkney, for fishing, shooting and a few to tour the area, but we don't get the numbers the area deserves.
How do we change this? Should we expect VistScotland to do this for us? Do we have to do it locally? I guess there is no simple single answer, we should expect VisitScotland to promote the area, but they have a limited budget and will concentrate on areas that pull the majority of visitors, the North Highlands Scotland group is starting to make an excellent job of promoting the area, http://www.northhighlandsscotland.com/ , but this will take time, it's the long haul, should we link with Visit Orkney? It would make some sense, certainly we can learn from them as they have a well developed tourism industry.
I think the real development has to come from the area, but we should be ensuring we ask for, and get the support of VisitScotland, The Highland Council, Historic Scotland, The Scottish Government and any other agencies that we feel can assist us in promoting this beautiful part of Scotland.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Promoting the North Highlands

Unlinked, originally uploaded by North Light.

As with any business advertising is an necessary evil, the tourism industry has many firms promising to increase your sales for a slice of your hard earned profits! After nearly four years in the industry I would say that in many cases the only business to increase it's profits from this in the advertising company. But one would think that the countries national tourism agency would be worth supporting.
Scotland's national tourism agency is called VisitScotland, and along with VisitScotland.com which it part owns provides international and national marketing, booking website, quality measurement and grading, and local tourist offices.
For this we contribute by paying membership fees, quality inspection fees, advertising fees and commission on bookings.
For the last few years I have been hearing rumors that the promotion of the far north by some of these offices was a bit lacking, I would tend to discount these stories as gossip, but last weekend some guests relaid an interesting tale. They had gone to one of these offices and asked about the North Coast and the Orkneys, only to be told that they would be better going to Skye.
Now I think Skye is beautiful, but so is the far north, it's early in the season and we need every visitor we can get, so I have to say I am more than a little peeved that part of the body that is supposed to be promoting tourism for the whole of Scotland is promoting one area above another.
It's difficult enough to get tourists, we could really do without part of our national tourist agency actively trying to persuade them not to come.

Ok rant over!

The photograph is of Sandside Harbour, Reay, Caithness.

Monday, 5 May 2008


Early Birds, originally uploaded by North Light.

I note from the Highland Council's website that they are conducting a online survey on the development of John O'Groats, in their own words "We need your help! Please help us to scope the potential for John O’Groats as a visitor destination"
Now sadly the link to this survey is buried away under "Tourism Development"
Surely this should be a front page item? John O'Groats is one of Scotland's best known locations, yet the Hotel is falling down, the foundations of the next phase of development are overgrown and long abandoned. The Operators of the shops and other facilities there deserve a lot of credit and support for their perseverance in this beautiful corner of Scotland.
This should be the focal point for the development of tourism in Caithness and North Sutherland.

So here is the link to the page, please do the survey, the far North of Scotland is a stunning place and tourism has to be a key part of it's future.