Venture North, the destination management organisation that promotes responsible tourism in the far north Highlands of Scotland, has announced its plans to launch a new autumn and winter campaign for Caithness and Sutherland.
The organisation is already working with over 250 tourism and hospitality businesses, local community groups and industry partners across the region to help extend the season and bring business to local visitor economies over the quieter autumn and winter months, with a focus on Health & Wellbeing, Active Outdoors, Heritage, Wildlife & Culture, and Luxury Highlands.
The initiative is being geared towards promoting reasons to visit and explore Caithness and Sutherland from October to March, showcasing areas that are less impacted by over-tourism and can accommodate visitors in the quieter season, as well as highlighting the long-established relationship between tourism and wellbeing.
Oldshoremore Retreats near Kinlochbervie, Golspie Inn, Newton Lodge near Kylesku, and Mackays Hotel in Wick are amongst the list of top accommodation providers who have already signed up to the campaign and will be staying open to visitors throughout autumn and winter.
Visitors can look forward to a range of cosy retreats on the coast or in the countryside with a heart-warming menu of Highland food and drink, rustic charm, real log fires and breathtaking views.
From their winter retreat, visitors will also be encouraged to get off the beaten track to enjoy everything from winter walks, wild swimming and cycling, to surfing, fly fishing and guided wildlife-spotting adventures.
Some of the top outdoor activity providers in Sutherland and Caithness are part of Venture North’s autumn and winter campaign, including Assynt Fly Fishing, Hamlet Mountaineering and Sutherland Adventure Company.
Dunnet Bay Distillery and the North West Highlands Geopark will also be offering the famous warm Highland welcome to visitors from across Scotland, the rest of the UK and beyond during the quieter months, including opportunities to explore the natural history, landscape, heritage and traditions of the region.
Cathy Earnshaw is Destination Strategy Manager for Venture North and leads the Tourism Recovery Strategy for Caithness and Sutherland.
“There’s so much for visitors to see and do in Caithness and Sutherland during this quieter time of year, so we’re gearing up to showcase the best accommodation, visitor attractions, outdoor activities and events on offer from October to March, and beyond.
“As the destination management organisation for the region, we are continuing to help local businesses and communities through effective collaboration to maximise the benefits of the visitor economy.
“This includes an ongoing conversation around the staffing crisis and recruitment ahead the autumn and winter season.”
Angela Johnson, owner of Oldshoremore Retreats near Kinlochbervie in Sutherland, said:
“We only started Oldshoremore Retreats as a new business in May 2021, so it’s a great opportunity for us to be part of Venture North’s autumn and winter campaign and reaching new UK-wide audiences.
“We’re now offering Intensive Healing Retreats all year round, so it’s the perfect way to look after your health and wellbeing in Sutherland this autumn and winter.”
Dr Laura Hamlet, Geopark Manager, North West Highlands Geopark, said:
“We’ve recently worked with VisitScotland to create the UNESCO National Trail.
“This promotes visits to the Geopark based on our shared UNESCO values of collaboration, decent work, economic growth and good health and wellbeing.
“There is a powerful opportunity for this kind of thought and messaging to lead to transformational experiences for visitors to the area, including the autumn and winter months as part of the Venture North campaign.”
Rhionna Mackay from the Sutherland Adventure Company, said:
“We’re really excited to be launching our new guided walks, hikes and cycle tours this autumn as part of Venture North campaign.
“Our guided outdoor activities are a great way for people to discover the hidden gems in our area with local guides and will help extend our season throughout the winter months.”
Visitors can also look forward to an exciting rage of public events being staged around Caithness and Sutherland over the autumn and winter, including Northern Stories Festival at various locations across Caithness (7th-16th October), Dornoch Whisky Festival (28th-30th October), and Taste North food, drink and artisan craft festival in Wick (6th November).
Lou Rollason from the Dornoch Whisky Festival, said:
“We’re so excited that the Dornoch Whisky Festival is coming back in full force for 2022.
“This year we’ll be continuing to work with some fantastic brands and do some great collaborations between them and our local businesses.
“It’s such a delightful wee festival emphasising knowledge and learning, regardless of someone’s experience in whisky.
“Since October is such a beautiful time of year in the Highlands, we love that we play a small part in the Highland calendar to encourage people to visit outside of the summer rush.”
Ellie Lamont, Venture North director, added:
“Venture North is delighted to be able to host the return of Taste North in Wick on 6th November.
“We’re looking forward to seeing all our past exhibitors and visitors, as well as being able to welcome new businesses and entice a growing number of attendees to the much-anticipated festival of the best the north has to offer.
“We’re thrilled to have Tony Singh returning as our celebrity chef and expect his entertaining antics to amuse and educate our foodie fans once again.
“We’re planning a programme packed with cookery and cocktail demonstrations, as well as our Taste North challenge competition and family activities.”
Venture North has now devised a series of suggested themed itineraries to help visitors explore Caithness and Sutherland over the autumn and winter months, which are now available on the Venture North website https://www.venture-north.co.uk/plan/itineraries
Venture North has also launched a series of five short films to showcase Caithness and Sutherland to visitors across the UK and beyond this autumn and winter, including ‘Venture North to Caithness & Sutherland’ https://vimeo.com/734728453
Venture North is the destination management organisation for Caithness and Sutherland, which is leading the development and delivery of the Tourism Destination Recovery Strategy (2021-23).
Core funding support is provided by Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd and other funding partners.
Venture North is continuing to work in partnership with local development trusts, communities and representative bodies and tourism businesses from across the region, to ensure a collective ownership and delivery of the Strategy at regional level.
The organisation also supports member businesses and communities across the region through effective collaboration to maximise the benefits of the visitor economy.
More information about Venture North for business and communities in Caithness and Sutherland is available online www.venture-north.co.uk.