Published: 15/03/2012 23:59 - Updated: 16/03/2012 00:00

A vital time ahead for tourism

Sir, Scotland's most important industry, tourism, is under the spotlight this week.

Running until Tuesday, March 13, Scottish Tourism Week puts the industry at the top of the agenda for politicians and stakeholders throughout the country.

Businesses from the Highlands will be attending the annual event, organised by the Scottish Tourism Forum, which aims to raise the importance of tourism to the Scottish economy.

As part of Scottish Tourism Week, businesses from the region will be hearing about the "Winning Years" from VisitScotland's Chairman, Mike Cantlay. We have unrivalled opportunities to promote the Highlands from now until 2014.

The Year of Creative Scotland, 2012, presents three fantastic events: the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, the London Olympics, and the release of Disney Pixar's "Brave", which will be hitting cinema screens this summer.

VisitScotland has just announced a unique marketing partnership with Disney and I encourage our local businesses to be pro-active in thinking about how to make the most of these opportunities.

The Year of Natural Scotland will be introduced in 2013 - a fitting theme for the Highlands, which has so much to offer our visitors.

And 2014 sees the next year of Homecoming Scotland, where we will be welcoming visitors to Glasgow's Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup in Gleneagles. The world's gaze will truly be on Scotland, and businesses in the Highlands will be able to reap the benefits.

The Highlands' tourism businesses should work closely with each other, capitalise on funding available through these themed years and develop their product for joint marketing initiatives to help pull opportunities from these incredible international platforms into the area.

Using the world stage offered to us, let's shout loud and clear that we want people here and we're working together to develop our product accordingly, to harness these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

Scott Armstrong, Regional Director, VisitScotland.

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