Staycation Boom in Highland

The Highland Council welcomes anticipated staycation boom in Highland with the income this will bring, however investment in resources and businesses to take advantage of this boom is essential.

Chair of the Economy and Infrastructure Committee, Cllr Trish Robertson said:

“As lockdown eases, local businesses and the tourism industry across Highland are looking forward to visitors returning and contributing to our economic recovery, however it will require significant investment to enable us to make the most of the anticipated staycation boom.

“Our circular economy relies on visitors and whilst the tourism and hospitality sector experienced a significant loss due to the pandemic and will continue to be impacted by the loss of EU employees and international visitors, it is also Highlands’ strongest asset to recovery across the region.

“A time of change across the sector opens opportunity for those currently unemployed and for young talent to become involved in a growing industry.”

She added:

“However, businesses require continued support from the Scottish Government to help them take advantage of this anticipated staycation boom. 

“Getting it right now will be instrumental in shaping the hospitality and tourism industry of the future.” 

Highland’s unspoilt scenery, beauty and outdoor leisure offerings play a vital role in allowing people to recover and recharge from a really challenging year.

Encouraging people to enjoy the Highland region and support local businesses is vitally important, but everyone must also protect the essence of what makes the Highlands a desirable destination.

The Highland Council’s Visitor Management Plan outlines key areas that are within the Council’s remit to manage and include: amenity and waste; roads, parking and transport; outdoor access; environmental and public health; and seasonal access rangers.

The plan outlines the immediate proposals for visitor management over the coming season.

Cllr Gordon Adam, Chair of Highland Council’s Tourism Committee, said:

“Visitors are very welcome in the Highlands, but we must encourage everyone to respect what makes it a beautiful and unique place. 

“While the rurality and large geographical spread of the Highland area opens many opportunities to travel and experience the unique culture it also brings challenges.

“We have begun to make significant changes to the infrastructure required.

“Not everything that needs to be achieved in the Highlands to adapt to the increase in visitor numbers can be completed in a short time frame.

“Communities and the private sector have an important role to play.

“This is particularly true in providing safe stopping off places for campervans.

“The Council will shortly be publishing guidance on how small scale “Aires” can be set up rapidly with the minimum of regulation.

“Volunteers in many communities are also keen to engage with visitors, and enhance their understanding of the local environment, its history and culture.

“The Council’s newly recruited rangers will provide support and training.

“We ask everyone to enjoy the outdoors but to do so responsibly, bag up litter and take it home if bins are full. 

“Do not leave bin bags at the side of full litter bins, not only is this unsightly and impacts communities and visitor’s enjoyment it is also a serious threat to wildlife and the environment. 

“Leave no trace and take only memories.”

The responsible tourism promise – Let’s Keep Scotland Special and #RespectProtectEnjoy are key messages that are important for all to remember whilst enjoying the Highlands.

Sustainable tourism is one of Scotland’s key growth sectors identified in the Scottish Government’s Economic Strategy and is the Highlands’ most important industry generating significant economic benefits for all areas of Highland.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic tourism had seen a number of years consistent growth.

By 2019 Highland’s 7.5m visitors generated:

£1.13Bn of direct spend by those visiting the area.

a further £265m of indirect expenditure by the tourism industry purchasing local goods and services.