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Aviemore adventure travel firm to create dozen new jobs

By Gavin Musgrove

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Karl Thurlow, head of business operations (right) with other Wilderness Scotland staff at their Dalfaber base.
Karl Thurlow, head of business operations (right) with other Wilderness Scotland staff at their Dalfaber base.

A leading adventure travel firm based in Aviemore is creating up to 12 jobs as it continues its journey back from the impact of Covid-19.

Wilderness Scotland has described the past 20 months as being “unbelievably tough” but is confident a corner has now been turned.

The company is now ramping up recruitment at its Dalfaber base after having to lay off staff during the pandemic.

Karl Thurlow, head of business operations, said: “For the majority of 2020, half the team were working handling customers and cancelling 3000 holidays with multiple trip arrangements, guides, hotels, transport, etcetera.

“All of this was being done with no income at all. In 2020 revenue was down 96 per cent on 2019 and we reluctantly had no choice but to reduce the size of the team.

“However, recognising our commitment to the area as a key local employer, we kept these numbers to an absolute minimum drawing upon the business’ reserves to pay staff and meet other essential business continuity costs.

“Revenue so far for this year is
35 per cent of 2019, so any benefit from staycations has been eclipsed by the complete absence of international travellers.

“However, now the future is starting to look a lot brighter, and we’re seeking to rebuild the team both on the office and guiding side.”

The new positions comprise eight different roles including coordinating operations, in sales, and operations support as well as travel guides.

Mr Thurlow said: “We are now seeing a rising demand for travel next year and these new roles will help us to meet this. We need to set ourselves up for what we hope will be one of best ever years of trading in 2022.”

He said there were good prospects next year for both the staycation and international travel markets.

Mr Thurlow said: “We are seeing an uplift in both, and the continuing reduction in requirements on travel into Scotland will make it easier for many more overseas visitors.”

Wilderness Scotland was recognised as the sixth best small UK workplace in the 2020 Great Place to Work awards.

The firm’s focus is on delivering world-class holidays, journeys and wilderness experiences in the Highlands and Islands including in the Cairngorms.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that from 4am on Sunday, those travelling into Scotland will only need to provide a negative lateral flow test along with photographic ID.

They can be booked in advance from 5pm tomorrow and are around £20 to £30 cheaper than the PCR tests they will replace. The move brings Scotland into line with England.

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