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Visit Scotland hopes local tourism continues in 2021 – and says badly behaving tourists a minority

Visit Scotland regional leadership director Chris Taylor.
Visit Scotland regional leadership director Chris Taylor.

Tourism leaders are hoping for a prosperous 2021 with people from the UK continuing to holiday on routes such as the NC500.

Regional leadership director for Visit Scotland, Chris Taylor, said that although it had been a “tough” year for businesses in the Highlands, local support had been vital.

Although the popular route has been subject to much controversy and anger this year, Mr Taylor thinks any inappropriate behaviour has been committed by a minority of visitors. 

Wild campers were condemned for leaving unwelcome mess and litter and others even camped at lay-bys, cemeteries, play parks and ancient monuments.

Tourists on the route also became renowned for parking in “daft” places and setting inappropriate fires – and one group sparked outrage for pouring their toilet waste at the side of the road. 

But Mr Taylor said that, although a minority of people had been angering locals, many others were phoning Visit Scotland to ask how they were able to tackle the route safely and responsibly.

The group hopes that Scots will again holiday at home in 2021 – to boost the local economy and protect local jobs.

“One of the positives of this particularly challenging year is that Scottish people have been rediscovering what’s on their doorstep,” Mr Taylor said.

“We’re seeing people take more time to travel – visitors are spending more time in places. We’ve also seen a surge of people shopping locally and supporting local – people have realised the importance of that.

“It’s been an overwhelmingly challenging year for businesses in the Highlands – it has been tough.

“If you look at something like the NC500, it has been a huge success for the Highlands and Scotland.”

Research by the Moffat Centre for Tourism found that the NC500 created 180 jobs in 2018 and had generated £22.8 million or the north Highlands economy.

Mr Taylor said this had been “unmatched” and the benefits of the route were “huge”.

Visit Scotland is now hoping for a more positive 2021 with visitors flocking to the area, permitted it is safe to do so.

“What we don’t know yet is how and when international travel will return,” Mr Taylor said.

“But the appetite is still there for people all around the world to visit Scotland and the Highlands.”

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