North Coast 500 criticised for alcohol marketing plans

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Scotland’s North Coast 500 route has been condemned for plans to link up with alcohol sales.

The spectacular route – billed as Scotland’s answer to America’s Route 66 – has been acclaimed as a tourist attraction, but the proposal to trademark the name to sell alcohol has been criticised by Alcohol Focus Scotland and Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (Shapp).

Campaigners have said that linking driving with alcohol is “irresponsible” and “inappropriate”.

A consortium behind the promotion of the road has applied to the Intellectual Property Office for the brand to be used to promote whisky, gin, rum, vodka and cider.

North Coast 500 Ltd, a tourism initiative, said it had registered trademarks “to protect against exploitation by third parties”.

A spokeswoman for the initiative said: “Where other tourism initiatives rely on public subsidy, the North Coast 500 has developed a successful new model based on income generation. Our website carries detailed information on careful and responsible motoring, which obviously includes not drinking and driving, but we will take advice from the experts and adjust our wording for the sake of absolute clarity.”

Alcohol Focus Scotland responded by saying that encouraging a positive association between alcohol and driving was “wholly inappropriate” and “potentially irresponsible”.

Dr Eric Carlin, director of Shaap, also expressed concern and said that any kind of linkage with alcohol and driving would be “really problematic”. He added that Shaap opposed the plan to use the name for drinks.

The North Coast 500, stretching 516 miles across the UK’s northern coastline, was launched in 2015 and had attracted an estimated 29,000 visitors, bringing about £9m to the region.

 
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