Frazer Coupland (pictured), CEO of Lochaber Chamber of Commerce, has been [nominated and] appointed as the new Chair of the Highland Tourism Partnership, a collective of tourism groups from throughout the Scottish Highlands, working across the industry, encouraging collaborative working between public and private sectors.
From the start of what has been described as an ‘unimaginable year’, appointed leaders of Highland destinations have regularly met informally to overcome the challenges and find creative ways to work with the region’s vital tourism businesses.
As attention now turns to recovery both destination leads and public sector partners collectively felt that those businesses fortunate enough to survive would benefit from a re-established and stronger Highland Tourism Partnership.
Destination organisations across the Highlands are already signed up to and fully engaged with the Partnership.
They represent more than 2000 members fully engaged and ready to embrace a new set of challenges.
Having been asked why the Highland Tourism Partnership is so important, Frazer Coupland answered:
“There is never a better time for businesses to collaborate than when faced with a crisis.
“Whilst I understand that there are some fish that love to swim upstream, there are more people, like me, who want to overcome challenges.
“I believe that working closely with public agencies who have committed to taking a supportive role in the partnership, embracing Outlook 2030 and STERG plans, whilst embracing the work done by each of our areas’ destinations, we have a strong and unique brand which we can build upon.
“With great management we can now start to think about Highland recovery and embrace the challenges ahead.”
Michael Golding, CEO of Visit Inverness Loch Ness, said:
“The Highland Tourism Partnership will once again bring together destination organisations and the public sector to work together and create collaborative opportunities for our tourism industry.
“Whilst the pandemic has brought significant challenges it has enforced new ways of working such as virtual meetings, it has at the same time created opportunity.
“Many of the destinations that are geographically distant have been meeting weekly, working together and sharing challenges.
“It has also led to the creation of multiple joint recovery projects.
“Highland tourism is facing a tremendous challenge.
“However, the representative industry organisations are working closely on behalf of their memberships to achieve the strong Highland wide recovery that we all wish to see.
“Visit Inverness Loch Ness fully supports the appointment of Frazer Coupland as Chair of the Highland Tourism Partnership.
“With his industry experience, extensive network and insightful approach, we are confident that the partnership has the right leadership to find an effective path to recovery and continue the collaborative Highland wide relationships that the partnership creates.
“We look forward to working closely with Frazer in his new role as Chair.”
Over the forthcoming period the Highland Tourism Partnership will focus on Visitor Management and Recovery.
Working across the agencies the partnership will ensure that businesses are well positioned to fully embrace the work that has been carried out throughout lockdown, that includes Education and Marketing, Infrastructure and Investment, Prevention, Regulation and Reassurance.
Chris Taylor, Regional Leadership Director at VisitScotland said:
“I’d like to congratulate Frazer on his appointment as Chair of the Highland Tourism Partnership.
“Frazer has a strong track record in working with others as well as the drive and ambition to make a real difference.
“As we look ahead, it is crucial that we all work together to help manage tourism in a responsible way.
“Consumer trends still show strong demand for the Highlands in the future – visitors are still keen to explore our scenery, landscape, culture and heritage when it is safe to do so.
“Importantly, Scottish people are also rediscovering their own country.
“We have a unique opportunity right now to pause, draw breath and to re-set our ambitions for tourism.
“In 2020 we saw visitors seek out opportunities to slow down, to linger a bit longer and to support the great many local producers of food, art, crafts and textiles.
“We can build on this.
“We can work together to improve the crucial infrastructure that our visitors rely on, but that our local people benefit from too.
“And we can help spread the season, ease and manage pressure at honeypot sites and help communities to derive real benefit from tourism.”
Frazer Coupland added:
“The time is right for uniting the extraordinary work of the Highland destinations, delivering crystal clear messages in order that visitors, businesses, our valued communities, economies and our natural environment can enjoy a vibrant future.
“We can only do this if we work together.”