Pictured: Highland business leaders at Dunrobin Castle calling for ‘North Highland Growth Fund’ from Holyrood & Westminster. L-R: Scott Morrison (Dunrobin Castle); John Murray (Highland Food & Drink Club); David Whiteford (Chair of North Highland Initiative); Ian Sutherland (Go Golspie!) & Neil Hampton (Royal Dornoch Golf Club).
A group of Highland business leaders have made a plea to the Holyrood and Westminster governments to work together to set up a ‘North Highland Growth Fund’ to help North Highland businesses and communities recover from the significant impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Led by the North Highland Initiative, business leaders have written to Michael Gove (Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster), Jamie Stone MP, Kate Forbes MSP and Fergus Ewing MSP, urging ministers in Edinburgh and London to make a special economic recovery plan for the North Highlands, which relies heavily on tourism.
Businesses calling for the ‘North Highland Growth Fund’ include Dunrobin Castle, Royal Dornoch Golf Club, Highland Food & Drink, Go Golspie!, Mackays Hotel in Wick and Kylesku Hotel in Sutherland.
David Whiteford, Chair of the North Highland Initiative, said:
“We’re calling on both the Scottish and Westminster governments to work together and collaborate to make a special economic case for the North Highlands.
“We need urgent investment in public infrastructure so visitors stay longer and spend more to help create a strong economy once again.”
Tanja Lister from the Kylesku Hotel, said:
“There is absolutely no doubt that the North Highlands has untapped potential.
“There are not many places that offer such an opportunity to enjoy nature, wildlife and fine food and drink as this part of the Highlands.
“It is clear, though, that we need a long-term strategy to ensure we deliver the appropriate infrastructure whilst keeping the magic and authenticity of the area.
“We also need some very quick short-term initiatives to manage the immediate needs- such as refuse, parking and toilets.
“Any economic development needs to be managed sensitively – there is a reason these wild, untamed places are so popular.
“We have an opportunity to do this in a way which goes hand in hand with a greener, carbon neutral future.”
North Highland Initiative was established in 2005 as a direct result of His Royal Highness The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay’s involvement in bringing together the farming community, local businesses and the tourism industry to address the challenges facing rural communities in the far north of Scotland.
The NHI also works to build and develop a regional identity for the area.
As part of the overall objective of the charity, NHI operates across the counties of Caithness, Sutherland and Ross & Cromarty to assist in making this amazing part of the UK a place where businesses and communities are sustainable.
The three key areas of activity for the NHI are food and farming, tourism, and community support and leadership.