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Could there be a tourism boom in the north once lockdown ends?

By Staff Reporter

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VisitScotland regional leadership director for the Highlands, Chris Taylor
VisitScotland regional leadership director for the Highlands, Chris Taylor

There is a rare bit of good news for the Highlands’ tourist industry, with some experts expressing cautious optimism the region could benefit from a rise in staycation bookings.

With the prospects of summer holidays abroad all but disappearing, beleaguered local tourism businesses could get the chance to cash in.

The news came as reports indicate more than half of Scots want to holiday in the Highlands this year.

EasyJet also announced this week that domestic flights in and out of Inverness Airport are among those it plans to reinstate from June 15, with passengers and crew required to wear face coverings.

This would be a huge boost for one of the region’s most important business sectors.

Although some hospitality leaders still fear this season will be a write-off, others see tentative signs of hope.

Self-catering facilities and campsites are expected to be the first to see an upsurge in interest, although hotels, guesthouses and other hospitality businesses could lag behind due to social-distancing difficulties.

Chris Taylor, VisitScotland’s regional leadership director, said it was working on a recovery plan to help the industry.

“We expect the first stage of the recovery to focus around domestic tourism, with people travelling to locations close to home,” he said. “But we are also gathering data and marketing intelligence from international markets to be able to gauge where we focus our efforts once international travel restrictions are lifted.

“As the lockdown measures ease, we will continue to support businesses and help the tourism industry become an economic and social powerhouse again; this is at the heart of everything we do.”

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