As we seek to rebuild tourism and look toward the future of the industry, it's important we put the welfare of communities and our natural environment at the heart of our approach.
The priority now is to reset tourism in a responsible way; to work with communities to ensure that visitors and locals can both have a fantastic experience, with enough resources for both.
As lockdown restrictions change in Scotland, community engagement is key to our activity.
On Thursday 22 April, we virtually held a community session with local community development groups and key partners across the Highlands to facilitate conversation around the restart of tourism.
If you missed the session, or simply want to look over the content again, the two presentations given by our Regional Leadership Director, Chris Taylor, and from Highland Council are now available to download.
You asked, we answered
Thanks to everyone who took the time to ask a question and get involved. We’ve pulled together a copy of the questions asked and the answers given.
What's your approach towards the pre-testing advice before visitors come to the island(s)?
We would encourage potential visitors to the islands to plan ahead and as part of this planning, although the testing is not mandatory, we would encourage visitors to adhere to the advice to take the lateral flow tests if possible.
What will be the difference between the countryside rangers and the access rangers? Will having separate responsibilities dilute the existing ranger service?
The new access rangers will not be visiting schools for education purposes, while the traditional countryside rangers will continue doing these school visits.
The access rangers have been appointed specifically for addressing the issues seen from high volume of visitors and irresponsible behaviour. Their main role will be to educate visitors by providing advice and guidance while they patrol specific locations.
How do we know how much time a ranger will spend in a given location – e.g. one for the east coast, based in Golspie but covering Helmsdale to Dornoch?
The rangers will be mobile and will be able to travel to where their services are needed to address any pressures.
How to contact a ranger and the sharing of information to/with Rangers are still to be confirmed.
In addition to the rangers, have Highland Council considered online rangers, who can give advice on the various social media groups dedicated to doing the NC500 and looking to wild camp in campervans?
Discussion of ranger capacity and the use of social media/digital services are still being looked at.
VisitScotland also offer a chat service online via VisitScotland.com and through Facebook where we are able to provide advice and guidance to potential visitors to Scotland.
VisitScotland and Highland Council are in discussion about a joint approach with the ranger service for information sharing with visitors.
What powers will rangers have to be able to implement to address unacceptable behaviour? And will communities be given a contact number to reach their local ranger if worrying behaviour is spotted?
A contact system will be created for contacting rangers where specific issues are. However, may not be worthwhile sharing 17 contact numbers, therefore, the council are still looking at how to do this effectively.
With regard to the powers that the rangers will have, they will be able to provide advice and may be able to move people on but it is possible that the police services will be required if needing more authority. The council are working closely with the police and will be able to call on these powers, particularly if there are any offences being committed.
[To the Highland Council] Have you worked with community councils on their infrastructure issues/barriers to tourism with regards to the management plans?
Yes, the council consulted with communities on our tourism infrastructure in winter 20/21 which raised a number of issues and we have also taken comments from communities via community council engagement with ward managers and Councillors. The council will continue consulting with local community councils and welcome comments on specific issues in their areas. These issues are also discussed at Tourism Committee meetings.
There are a number of ways to keep this conversation going and to make sure you're equipped with all the information and support that you need. To help, we've pulled together some useful links:
- Find out more about responsible tourism, and get involved with our new Scotland-wide visitor management plan and campaign
- Share the new "Let's keep Scotland special" film and campaign imagery, from our recent responsible tourism campaign, across your social channels
- Take a look at Highland Council's Visitor Management Plan for the Highlands, which is available on their website
- Find the latest coronavirus support, news and information for the tourism industry
Keep in touch
For more information about what we're doing please subscribe to our Tourism Insider e-newsletter and for more regional content, join our Highland Tourism Industry Facebook group. You can also keep up to date by following us on Twitter and LinkedIn.