A WORLD-FAMOUS Scottish tourism location has reported a strong year, despite the ongoing pandemic.
During an AGM held by the Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID), Visit Inverness Loch Ness revealed that consumer interest in the area has grown significantly.
Becoming the first TBID in the UK, Visit Inverness Loch Ness was established in 2014.
Covering 1,200 square miles in the north of Scotland, this district supports its members with marketing, infrastructure, events, business tourism, business development and lobbying.
Increasing interest in the area over the past year has been shown through social media, online searches and feedback from tourism businesses.
Success has also been found at events organised by TBID, with over 500 businesses attending their 22 webinars across the year.
Featuring high profile speakers, Kate Forbes MSP, Drew Hendry MP and Marc Crothall, Chief Executive were among those to address attendees.
Michael Golding, CEO of Visit Inverness Loch Ness, said: “Despite the unprecedented challenge of the pandemic, I am incredibly proud of what we were able to achieve at Visit Inverness Loch Ness.
“We were there for our members when they needed us most, providing access to funding and business support and our growth in membership this past year is proof that tourism businesses in the region have confidence in our ability to deliver.”
Representing the tourism location, Visit Inverness Loch Ness has also attended 150 online industry presentations this year.
Funding from NatureScot Better Places 2 Fund has also supported the appointment of Loch Ness’ first ranger, in partnership with the Highland Council.
Receiving an award of £80,000 from VisitScotland, plans are in place for a new marketing drive.
From November to March 2022, a campaign will draw attention to what the area has to offer, including authentic experiences, wellbeing and workcations.
Jane Cumming, from Downright Gabbler and Beauly Station, said: “It was good to hear about the campaigns being run on our behalf.
“As a new business due to start at the height of the pandemic we needed all the help we could get and we’ve found the team at TBID really helpful and approachable.
“We’re already seeing real interest in our offering which combines food and drink with storytelling, as well as high quality self-catering apartments.
“I’m pleased to say that bookings are already coming in for next year which is a great boost and our Opt In membership with Visit Inverness Loch Ness continues to be great value and support our recovery from the pandemic.”
Michael added: “We have really upped the ante with our digital assets, investing in our image and video library and increasing the content fivefold so that our members can use this content to enhance their digital presence.
“This new content has led to significant growth in our social media following where we have a reach of 18 million, 62,000 followers, 615,000 engagements and 23,000 shares of our content.”
A new website is also helping to bring visitors up to date, ensuring that both the destination and its businesses remain competitive.
He continued: “We have developed a Winter Wonder Highlands campaign, with VisitScotland and Lochaber Chamber of Commerce, which has already reached 4 million impressions and looks set to bring visitors to the region.
“We will also be bringing international social media influencers to our Inverness Influencer Lodge again next year.
“Our members have told us the initial recovery this summer has been beyond expectations and with our planned activity through the winter into 2022 we are optimistic this trend will continue.”