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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 04/08/2023

Introduction from Chris Taylor, Destination Development Director

Welcome to the April to June 2023 quarterly edition of our regional industry update for the Highlands with an overview of some of the ways we’ve been promoting and supporting tourism in the area over the last few months. 

With the season almost in full swing, we are hearing encouraging signs from tourism and events businesses about the season ahead. We know that challenges certainly remain for you all, however the appetite for holidaying in Scotland is strong, from both the domestic and international markets. 

The region is already buzzing with events including the Etape Loch Ness, The Gathering and Under Canvas at Eden Court in Inverness. Several local shows and Highland games will also be celebrated in the coming weeks and months. Visitors are also able to enjoy new experiences, including the openings of the Loch Ness Centre, Corrieshalloch Gorge, Strathnaver Museum, and Dundreggan Rewilding Centre.

Chris Taylor

We're excited to see the completion of the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF) project at Falls of Foyers, which includes a new toilet block and waste disposal facility for motorhomes.

The new campsite at Cromarty – which also received RTIF funding - is in its very final stages of completion and we look forward to its formal opening. This will make a huge difference to the village, providing a wonderful new location for motorhomes to stay overnight and putting money directly back into the community. This brings the total number of RTIF projects approved to date in Highland to 31.

One of the big tickets for this summer is the UCI Cycling World Championships. The Mountain Bike Downhill event will take place at Nevis Range from 3-5 August, comprising junior and elite qualifying and finals - putting the Highlands firmly on the international cycling map.

We're continuing our work on encouraging responsible visitor behaviour and are joined up with our key partners to implement this through the Visitor Management Group. Promoting messages on fire and water safety are particularly important this season.

We continue to collaborate with our partners on the Spirit of the Highlands and Islands campaign which promotes our message around extending the season outwith the traditional holiday period and encouraging visitors to explore the whole region, not just our iconic sites.

Read on for more information on our activity to support tourism and events in the Highlands, and promote the fantastic things to see, do and enjoy across the region. 

Scotland and UK press activity

Our corporate PR team work closely with Scottish and UK media to raise awareness of our work to promote the Highlands to visitors and how we offer support for the industry.

Some of the most recent highlights include: 

Read all of our press releases on our media toolkit

Highlands on social media

13.6 million

reached through all Highland posts


engaged with Highland social media posts

1.25 million

views on Highland video content


reactions to Highland content

An update from Portree iCentre

Portree has seen a very busy start of the summer season since early May with visitors from across the UK and overseas. Spring was in full swing at SkyeLive, the annual music festival featuring the best in contemporary Scottish folk music. We welcomed many music lovers from around the world in our iCentre on their way to the venue, which is just around the corner from us. Many of our cruise ship passengers received a warm welcome by our iCentre team, some of whom were handing out maps down at the harbour.

Then, on the sweltering hot Saturday 10 June, several hundreds of runners ran the Skye Half Marathon. The runners were supported throughout with music from Skye’s one and only samba band "MacLoud" as well as the Isle of Skye pipe band who piped the runners to victory. The pipe band are now playing every Tuesday evening in Portree square, providing a warm Island welcome to visitors from all over the world and we are happy to direct our iCentre visitors to some traditional live music.

After the heatwave a few weeks ago, some "normal" Skye weather has returned for summer. The rain might be unwelcome for some, it certainly makes our waterfalls on Skye more majestic. Kilt Rock car park (which was closed due to resurfacing works) has re-opened again. This means that many of our visitors can enjoy this majestic waterfall from up close again.

We look forward to seeing you and your visitors in the iCentre soon, we're always happy to help!

Pop in and say hello!

Our teams of welcoming and knowledgeable staff are always on hand to help you, and your visitors. Pop in and say hello to our iCentre teams – they'd all love to hear from you.

View of Portree harbour
View of Portree harbour

Find the nearest iCentre for your visitors

Global PR

Travel Trade activity

We ran a dedicated familiarisation trip for 10 key international tour operators as part of the Spirit of the Highlands and Islands project and VisitScotland Connect 2023. Spirit dedicated familiarisation trip as part of business-to-business travel trade event VisitScotland Connect 2023, showcasing the natural and cultural heritage of the region to key international & UK buyers.

The itinerary showcased the following Highland businesses:

  • Dolphin Spirit
  • Inverness Castle
  • Dunrobin Castle
  • Downright Gabbler
  • Highland Wildlife Park
  • Kinrara Distillery
  • The Boat Country Inn
  • Royal Marine Hotel Brora
Discover the Spirit of the Highlands Buyers Itinerary

Dunrobin Castle.Dunrobin Castle, Sutherland.

Regional Marketing

We've been promoting the natural and cultural heritage of the Highlands and Islands though our regional joint marketing campaign, Spirit of the Highlands and Islands.

This campaign is a collaboration with High Life Highland and Highland Council to deliver a multi-channel marketing campaign, targeting both UK and international audiences. 

The key focus of the campaign is to extend the visitor season and encourage sustainable and off-the-beaten-track travel. Ultimately, we're working together to increase visits and economic benefits to places where tourism can help stimulate rural economic growth. 

Some key recent activity includes:

Spirit of the Highlands and Islands

  • Multimedia

    We've created three new videos which focus on the autumn. There's also now a wider suite of photo and video content, to showcase the region’s distinctive heritage and authentic connections with rural communities. Watch the videos on YouTube.

  • Campaign website

    On the campaign website, visitors can discover unique locations to visit throughout the region. The platform immerses them in community stories, inspirational video and audio content to encourage visits. The content on site also includes 10 themed itineraries.

  • Paid media

    Our paid media content has included:

    • £60,000 UK Publishing Partnership with The Guardian, which generated 25,000 views and generated £32,000 in spend

    • £185,000 UK & EU digital spring media activity including video on demand on C4, STV, Sky and My5, display banners, paid social and YouTube adverts. This activity delivered more than 35 million impressions, 5.1million video views and more than 79,000 clicks

    •  We're currently planning  further £185,000 phase of activity in the autumn 2023 to include UK & EU digital media (including social media channels and YouTube), a UK partnership with The Guardian and a EU partnership with Die Zeit


Scotland's Year of Stories evaluation

The results from the latest Themed Year, Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022, have now been published. Our new report highlights the significant benefits it brought to Scotland and its communities.

Over 1.4 million people attended a total of 201 funded events which were designed to share and celebrate Scotland’s stories.

Find out more about the full impact of Scotland's Year of Stories 2022 with key insights, learnings and results.

Read the full evaluation

Future Themed Year

We recently asked for your help to scope out options for a future Themed Year. Our Themed Years celebrate the very best of Scotland and its people.

The survey is currently closed.

More details to follow.

Regional partner updates

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) supports businesses, communities and social enterprises of all sizes and within all sectors across the Highlands and Islands. They have new funding and support available, including the fair work support programme, new product development programme and Green Grant Fund. 

Find out more

Related links