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Breathing Space campaign aims to get people back into great outdoors and exploring Highlands

Kyle of Tongue. Picture by Angus Mackay.
Kyle of Tongue. Picture by Angus Mackay.

A new tourism campaign has been launched to bring business back to Caithness and North Sutherland after the Covid pandemic.

Independent research for Highlands &and Islands Enterprise estimates that visitor spend is likely to have declined across the region by between £370million and £584million in the financial year 2020 to 2021.

Breathing Space, a campaign developed by Venture North, hopes to promote the region, focusing on quieter areas and seasons in an attempt to create a more steady flow of visitors.

The initiative aims to appeal to people who have spent large periods of the pandemic at home, promoting the relationship between tourism and wellbeing.

Cathy Earnshaw, destination strategy manager for Venture North, said: “The past two years have been a huge challenge for all of us across Scotland’s tourism and hospitality industry, so we’re now delivering a forward-looking sustainable and responsible tourism strategy for our area with our local partner organisations.

“Everyone needs to escape the stresses and strains of everyday life. As travel begins to open up again, Venture North believes it’s more important than ever that everyone has ‘breathing space’ from these challenges, helping our mental wellbeing and health for the future.”

Cathy Earnshaw from Venture North.

An ‘inspiring’ campaign

Angela Johnson owns Oldshoremore Retreats near Kinlochbervie in Sutherland. The accommodation provider and wellbeing retreat believes it will benefit from the camapign.

“Being part of this campaign is so inspiring,” Mrs Johnson said.

“Breathing Space says it all because when you arrive in the far north Highlands and you experience the peace and tranquility, you really appreciate what the region has to offer. It offers you the pause so many people need to recover from their busy lives.”

The campaign is supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) as well as Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd and other funding partners.

Eann Sinclair, HIE’s area manager for Caithness and Sutherland, explained the importance of the tourism industry for the region: “The importance of tourism to the Caithness and Sutherland region cannot be overstated as it is central to our local economy and provides a vital source of employment. Unfortunately, it is also one of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic.

“We recognise that bringing about recovery in the tourism industry will be challenging but look forward to working with Venture North as part of its Breathing Space campaign, as well as our partners and tourism businesses across Caithness and Sutherland achieve a sustainable future for the sector.”

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