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Funding boost for Outer Hebrides tourism recovery

The Callanish stones, on Lewis.
The Callanish stones, on Lewis.

Up to four new jobs are to be created in the Outer Hebrides as part of a £710,000 drive to rebuild the islands’ tourism industry in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

A series of new initiatives to boost the sector’s recovery will be launched in a three-year project run by destination management organisation Outer Hebrides Tourism (OHT).

North development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is contributing £375,000 to the scheme.

OHT chief executive Robert McKinnon said the funding would help get tourism “back on its feet and equipped to face the future.”

Joanna Peteranna, HIE’s head of enterprise support, described the sector as “central to the Outer Hebrides economy and a vital source of rural and community resilience.”

She continued: “Prior to the impact of the pandemic, the tourism sector had enjoyed a decade of sustained growth, adding much-needed momentum to the islands’ economy.

“OHT provides valuable co-ordinated support for the sector and has been a valuable voice for the industry over the last year. Its updated strategy identifies the priorities for the sector’s recovery, focusing on communities, employment, businesses as well as the visitor experience.

“It is important that the organisation has sufficient resources to be as effective as possible in delivering against these priorities, and that’s why we have granted this funding”.

OHT will work with its members and public sector partners to deliver its Sealladh 2030 (Outlook 2030) strategy.  It will also continue working in partnership with national tourism body VisitScotland, ferry operator CalMac and others to promote the islands as a tourist destination.

Mr McKinnon said: “The three years of funding will provide the stability required for OHT to co-ordinate the recovery of tourism which is crucial to the island economy.

“Delivering the plan will see the sector evolve to improve both economic resilience, through extending the season as well as increased benefits to our communities.

“We will continue our work on the ground throughout the islands with communities, businesses and our public sector partners to get tourism back on its feet and equipped to face the future”.

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