Pictured: Director of Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition Robbie Bremner.
Usually a year-round concern, Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition managed to eke out barely seven months trade in 2020 before physical distancing measures and ongoing uncertainty forced them to shut up shop in November.
As Scotland moved into Level 3, the attraction could have re-opened on 26 April, but instead they were contending with a catastrophic flood.
Finally, re-opening to the public on Wednesday 18 August, the owners are keen to put this chapter behind them.
Director Robbie Bremner explains:
“At the end of February this year, we suffered a devastating flood.
“The exhibition’s main fuse boards and control systems were completely destroyed.
“On top of the pandemic, this disaster was absolutely the last thing we needed but, after months of intense repair work, stripping out and rebuilding three storeys of walls, floors and ceilings, we’re back in business.
“Our future looks bright.
“There is plenty of pent-up demand and the holiday season is set to be longer than normal.
“Several of our retailers also operate guest accommodation and they have strong bookings well into September and October.
“As for 2022, many industry experts predict a bumper year.
“Pre-pandemic, our visitor footfall would reach 300,000 per year, if we can get close to that in 2022, we would be over the moon – so too would the operators of complementary shops, restaurants and cruise businesses in Drumnadrochit village.”
Inbound international travel is indeed gathering pace, while staycations are set to remain the British holiday of choice – so much so that reports say that Cornwall, the Lake District and Scotland may replace Spain and France as the UK’s top holiday destinations.
Cruises have already returned to Invergordon, with Marella Explorer arriving on 25 July – the first visiting ship since 2019.
17 ships from six different companies are scheduled for Cromarty Firth in 2021 – a huge source market for Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition.
“Our father, Ronnie Bremner, founded Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition in May 1980 and, up until March 2020, our doors would only ever be shut on Christmas Day.
“It’s been hard to cope with – financially and emotionally – but we are buzzing with excitement at the reopening, and plan to come back even stronger.
“Necessary post-flood redecoration aside, we’ve been investing in our product, revamping the retail space and introducing new brands.
“We now host Scotland’s smallest and newest craft distillery – Great Glen premium Scottish gin.
“They harvest local ingredients, such as heather, red sorrel and frankincense, and add clean pure Highland water sourced directly from Loch Ness.
“Great Glen currently produces 250 bottles per week in the 28m² distillery and they are quite literally flying off the shelves.”