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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Highlands Tourism is the Business

The strength of the north’s meeting and incentive facilities has been showcased to a group of influential conference and incentive organisers from London.


The two day ‘Highland Agency Challenge’ event, hosted by VisitScotland’s Business Tourism Unit, saw the group of 12 visit Inverness-shire and the Cairngorms to take part in a host of creative challenges, as well as off-road segways and a safari dinner. The group met a number of top service providers and sampled the range of unique and purpose-built venues for holding meetings and incentives. 


Rocpool Reserve, Highland Voices, Kingsmill Hotel and Kingsclub Spa, Eden Court, Waterside Hotel, Glen Mhor Hotel, Glenmoriston Hotel, Achnagairn House, Macdonald Aviemore Resort and Conference Centre, Rothiemurchus Estate, Boots N Paddles, and Culloden House Hotel all took part in the familiarisation trip which aims to encourage conference and event organisers to bring business to the Highlands.


Business tourism plays an integral role in the Scottish economy; the most recent research showing that 2.6m business trips were taken in 2011, contributing £878m to Scotland, which equate to 19% of total tourism spend.


The two day event was designed to bring together meeting planners and let them experience first-hand some of the Highlands’ best venues, suppliers and event providers, enhancing the status of the north and Scotland as a world-class destination for meetings, incentive travel and corporate hospitality.


Leo Platt, UK managing director of destination management company Allied PRA, said: “The Highlands has some great product, stunning scenery and fantastic dining options. I very much hope to bring some business to your area in the not too distant future.”


VisitScotland’s Business Tourism Unit promotes Inverness as a key conference destination and also operates a programme for local Ambassadors wishing to bid to bring larger conferences to the city.


Neil Brownlee, Head of the Business Tourism Unit said: “The importance of business tourism and the role it plays in Scotland cannot be underestimated. Not only is business tourism recovering well, there is clear evidence that it is on track to being a £1billion industry.


“It is imperative that we continue to highlight the breadth of quality on offer for conference and business planners when coming to the Highlands and I believe that the businesses visited give a great flavour and insight of what delegates can expect.”


With a new code share agreement between KLM and Flybe via Amsterdam, the Highlands are well placed to capitalise on more incentive business from the 150 destinations worldwide that can be accessed though this link.


Business tourism in the Highlands was also given a welcome boost last month as conference organisers were invited to make Inverness their next conference location with the availability of funding support from The Inverness Common Good Fund. Members of The Highland Council’s Inverness City Committee agreed earlier this year to allocate £40,000 of Common Good Funding available in the financial year 2012/13 to attract conferences to the city with a new maximum grant of £17,500 for any single application.