Caithness has become the first region in Scotland to gain national recognition for its commitment to customer service to tourists.
The area has been awarded WorldHost Recognised Destination status after 25% of tourism businesses in the area received training accreditation from the tourism service training body.
The well-known WorldHost programme has already been used to train over 10% of Scotland’s tourism workforce. This customer service training represents an investment of over £2 million since it was launched in Scotland.
Trudy Morris, chief executive of Caithness Chamber of Commerce, who has been leading on the initiative across the region, said: “It’s a fantastic achievement for the local businesses who have embraced this initiative and have demonstrated a real commitment to be customer-focused. Through their collective efforts, Caithness is able to lead from the front and be the first region in Scotland to achieve this accolade. We want the world to know, there is a warm welcome awaiting visitors to this area.
“Even though destination status has been achieved, the initiative is still running and businesses are encouraged to be part of the continuing success story, not just in Caithness but in Sutherland as well.”
David Allen, director for Scotland at People 1st, congratulated Caithness on its achievement. He said: “Becoming a WorldHost Recognised Destination is fantastic achievement and it’s incredibly encouraging to see so many businesses willing to go the extra mile for their customers.
“Customer service is vital to the future success of tourism in Scotland with research showing that 88% of employers see it as the most important skill needed in their business in the next five years.
“This training means that Caithness will be well placed to meet that challenge, and I have no doubt it will have a positive impact on our tourism offer not just in the Caithness region, but across Scotland more broadly. Congratulations to all the businesses and trainers involved.”
Lawrence Durden, Key Sector Manager for Tourism at Skills Development Scotland, said: “The awarding of WorldHost destination status to Caithness reflects the commitment shown by businesses across that area to workforce development and excellence in customer service.
“Enhancing visitor experience is one of the key themes of the Skills Investment Plan for Scotland’s Tourism Sector, and the WorldHost Regional Destination initiative is playing an important role in driving this forward.”
The latest findings from Visit Scotland’s Visitor Survey 2015, published in March 2016, confirm the important role that employees play in the visitor experience – with over 82 per cent of visitors agreeing that local people add to the overall holiday experience.
Fergus Ewing MSP, Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism for the Scottish Government commented: “It is clear from the recent VisitScotland Visitor Survey that those working in the Scottish tourism industry continue to play a vital role in its success.
“The WorldHost Destination initiative helps businesses to upskill their workforce and maximise the benefits that a high quality visitor experience can offer and in doing so it is helping to shape our future tourism offer.
“I would like to offer my congratulations to those in Caithness behind this achievement. As the first region in Scotland to achieve WorldHost Destination status, they have put Caithness firmly on the map.”