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Tourism in the Highlands despite COVID-19

3 min read

The Highlands of Scotland is easily one of the most beautiful places in the world.

With attractions like this – the majestic Loch Ness, it’s no wonder that the Highlands welcomes a vast number of visitors from across the world every year, with over 6million tourists arriving on our shores annually.

This influx of wide-eyed visitors spend a massive £1.2bn and support around 20,000 jobs right across the Highlands. That’s money spent in our shops and pubs, restaurants and cafes, hotels and our world-beating attractions.

However, the global COVID-19 pandemic has taken a huge chunk out of these tourist numbers. Lockdown meant that visitors couldn’t travel to sites like this from the 24th of March right the way through to mid-July – a period that should have seen the lion-share of tourists coming to the highlands to enjoy our famous Highland hospitality.

To illustrate this drop-off, just 3 of the 106 cruise ships that had been expected to dock at Invergordon this year will actually arrive on our shores. That’s a loss of over 250,000 passengers who would’ve disembarked at Invergordon to explore the Highlands and the local area this season.

The busy port’s cruise liner business accounts for almost 20% of its £12m annual turnover. The financial impact it will have on the local area and wider Highland economy can only be far greater.

Cancelled tours to local attractions, towns and cities mean money lost in businesses right across the industry. Local coach operator D&E Coaches estimate that they face a £1.5 million loss due to cruise ship tours not operating as they were last season.

More lost trade.

It’s not all bad news though.

Visitors have recently started to trickle into our towns, cities and attractions. With the relaxing of restrictions on the 15th of July, the Highlands have started to see visitors return in smaller numbers.

With many Brits turning their back on international travel for now, discovering the beautiful attractions, landscapes, towns and cities that are right on your doorstep is a real option this summer.

Staycation’ trips are what might save many a Highland business from bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 economic downturn.

Sites like here at Loch Ness are open for business and ready to be discovered.

Loch Ness is a great example of the range of attractions that can be found in the Highlands within a very small area.

Whether it’s the mysteries of this famous Loch and its most infamous resident – ‘Nessie’ that interest you, or the adventure that’s to be found both on the water and in the breathtaking scenery of its surrounding hills – a trip to these waters will leave a mark on all who visit.

Perhaps the turbulent history of Urquhart castle that sits on the banks of the Loch is more your speed? There you can discover more about the people that have lived, fought and died on these famous banks, as well as enjoy gorgeous views over the Loch and the hills that encircle it.

Or just down the road is the thriving city of Inverness. It hosts a glut of vibrant city attractions, great local restaurants, and exciting, authentic local pubs that are great for a wee livener or two.

The options are endless in the Highlands. There are literally thousands of great attractions, adventures, and drams to be tasted right across the region that is famous for its history, landscape and above all, its people.

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