Nessie hunting could be set for a high speed upgrade.
Plans have been unveiled by Scottish Canals for a fast boat – top speed 35mph – at the north end of Loch Ness which could be open by the Spring.
Businesses are now are now being sought to run the new tourism venture from Dochgarroch. There are already rigid inflatable fast boats operating at the south end of the loch.
It is hoped the new boat will get more people on the loch and boost sightings of the elusive monster, as trees are still blocking many views from the roadside.
There have been eight sightings – the latest at the weekend – this year, the highest since the year 2000 when there were 11.
Katie Hughes, director of estates and commerce at Scottish Canals, said: “We’re always looking to offer our visitors incredible experiences on Scotland’s canals and taking to the waters of Loch Ness at high speed with the wind in your hair and iconic sights all around you certainly lives up to that description.”
It is estimated that the Loch Ness Monster – or Nessie – phenomenon is worth more than £60 million to the Scottish economy.
Gary Campbell, leader of the registrar of sightings at Loch Ness, believes the extra boat, which will run from Dochgarroch, can only enhance the visitor experience.
He said: “This kind of venture actually helps solve an issue because the issue is people not being able to see the place with trees on both sides of the road.
“There are a lot of people who want a quick experience as they maybe just have a few hours to see the loch and then go on to some ofhter tourist attraction, and this meets that market.
“People might be concerned that a fast boat might hit Nessie but, over the years, the amount of traffic on the loch has increased and so far she has managed to avoid it. She will hear the boat coming and get out of the way.”
Mr Campbell added that it was a pity that views are still blocked by trees at the roadside, as old photographs from the original building of the A82 road show there were very few.
He acknowledges the trees help stablise the embankment but believes it will be a simple way to improve the experience of Loch Ness.
Businesses interested in the new commercial opportunity on Loch Ness should submit their proposal via www.publiccontractsscotland.co.uk