A popular Highland attraction has thrown open its doors to visitors for the first time in nine months.
Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition was hit not only by Covid last year, but also a “catastrophic flood” in February.
But as they reopened their doors, boss Robbie Bremner said their future was bright and team is raring to go.
The director of Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition, said: “At the end of February this year, we suffered a devastating flood. The exhibition’s main fuse boards and control systems were completely destroyed.
“On top of the pandemic, this disaster was absolutely the last thing we needed but, after months of intense repair work, stripping out and rebuilding three storeys of walls, floors and ceilings, we’re back in business.”
The future looks bright
The team at Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition is encouraged by the increase in inbound travellers to Scotland and the rise in staycations which will bring more people to the Loch Ness area.
Mr Bremner added: “Our future looks bright. There is plenty of pent-up demand and the holiday season is set to be longer than normal.
“Several of our retailers also operate guest accommodation and they have strong bookings well into September and October. As for 2022, many industry experts predict a bumper year.
“Pre-pandemic, our visitor footfall would reach 300,000 per year, if we can get close to that in 2022, we would be over the moon – so too would the operators of complementary shops, restaurants and cruise businesses in Drumnadrochit village.”
Mr Bremner said it had been tough to see the five-star attraction closed for so long, as since his father – also Ronnie – had opened it in 1980 it had only ever shut on Christmas Day before the pandemic.
He said: “It’s been hard to cope with – financially and emotionally – but we are buzzing with excitement at the reopening, and plan to come back even stronger.
“Necessary post-flood redecoration aside, we’ve been investing in our product, revamping the retail space and introducing new brands.”
“We now host Scotland’s smallest and newest craft distillery – Great Glen premium Scottish gin. They harvest local ingredients, such as heather, red sorrel and frankincense, and add clean pure Highland water sourced directly from Loch Ness.
“Great Glen currently produces 250 bottles per week in the 28m² distillery and they are quite literally flying off the shelves.”