A new budget hotel has opened in Moray amid hopes the tourism sector is remaining buoyant in the region.
Travelodge has built its 61-bedroom site on the eastern outskirts of Elgin to help boost accommodation available in the area.
Concerns have been raised in recent years about the lack of available space for visitors to base themselves while touring the region.
The new Travelodge, which has become the firm’s most northerly location, has created 20 jobs as part of the development.
Manager Ann Howie explained the hotel was expected to be busy during the festive period with families eager to see loved ones while potentially not being able to visit their homes.
She said: “Opening a new hotel is very stressful at any time but during a pandemic it goes up a good ten notches.
“As the nation’s spare room provider, we are getting geared up for a busy festive season with local resident’s family and friends staying with us whilst they visit their loved ones.
“This is great news for the local economy as research shows our customers will spend on average double their room rate with local businesses which equates to an annual multi-million spend.”
The hotel has been opened on the £12million Elgin Business Park next to the A96 Aberdeen road on the eastern approach to the town.
A new petrol station with a drive-through Starbucks has also been proposed for the site, which has been backed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
Meanwhile, local firms S & D Harper and Speyside Scaffolding as well as Bury-based tyre distributor RH Claydon are also lining up moves.
The development was launched amid concerns about a lack of space for businesses in Moray to expand as well as aspirations to attract new firms to the region.
The Elgin hotel has become Travelodge’s 47th site in Scotland with hopes it will be used by visitors to visit Speyside and other sites across the north-east.
Laurie Piper, chief executive of Visit Moray Speyside, hopes the firm’s investment will provide a boost for the local industry.
He said: “It’s encouraging to see investment continuing in our region’s tourism industry through this incredibly difficult time.
“I look forward to working together with the Travelodge team as we look to rebuild Moray’s tourism industry in the years ahead.”