2nd April 2024
  • Venture North Tourism Gathering 2024
    Venture North Tourism Gathering 2024

Future opportunities for tourism businesses and organisations were explored at Venture North’s third annual Tourism Gathering last week. 70 attendees gathered at Mackays Hotel in Wick ahead of the summer visitor season.

Cathy Earnshaw, Destination Strategy Manager for Venture North opened the day by showcasing an overview and short film of Venture North’s key strategic activities in delivering the Tourism Strategy for Caithness and Sutherland 2021 – 24. With the Gathering’s theme being ‘Destination Opportunities’, she also discussed potential future focus areas to generate ideas and feedback from the tourism sector and community organisations, which will help shape the region’s tourism priorities towards Outlook 2030.

Marc Crothall MBE, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance set the scene by introducing key tourism policy focuses including the recently launched Policy Agenda ‘Our Industry Manifesto to Support Scotland in Becoming a World Leader in 21st Century Tourism’ which sets out a series of ambitious priorities ahead of the forthcoming UK general election and the next Scottish Parliament election in 2026. He discussed the value of working with destination management organisations (DMOs) such as Venture North to shape and deliver tourism in Scotland.

Chris Taylor, VisitScotland’s destination development director for the Highlands and Islands revealed information on current visitor trends and opportunities for travel trade.

Representatives from Wick Development Trust, John O’Groats Mill Trust and the John O’Groats Development Trust all provided updates on current community tourism initiatives in Caithness, with NatureScot and the North West Highland Geopark presenting insight into the valuable opportunities for responsible tourism and collaborations with UNESCO status.

Trudy Morris, Chief Executive of the Caithness Chamber of Commerce also shared about career opportunities across the tourism and hospitality sector for young people.

William and Adelaine Munro of Caithness Seacoast Ltd commented: There was a very positive atmosphere. It was great to see such a diverse range of tourism service providers and an abundance of experience. We particularly liked hearing about the focus on young people joining the tourism industry. As a result, we approached Developing the Young Workforce North Highland and have signed up to provide marine tourism experience to interested high school pupils”.

Attendees rotated round breakout groups in the afternoon, which dug deeper into the themes of travel trade, building responsible tourism collaborations with UNESCO world heritage sites, and maximising opportunities for community tourism.

Fiona Saywell, Geopark Manager for the North West Highlands Geopark said, I have at least 3 new contacts from Thursday’s networking, with multiple pieces of information and possible routes to follow up on for future and existing work. Having opportunities through co-leading the afternoon breakout groups, to find out what tourism providers think, know and want to know about the North West Highlands Geopark, was so valuable”.

Venture North’s Tourism Gathering was held on Thursday 28th March 2024 and was sponsored by Caithness Chamber of Commerce & Developing the Young Workforce North Highland, with support from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, NRS Dounreay, and VisitScotland.

Magnus Davidson, Dounreay’s Socio Economics Manager, said: “NRS Dounreay is pleased to be working with Venture North to help promote responsible and sustainable community-led tourism in the north Highlands and building valuable partnerships to boost a collective voice is crucial in doing this effectively.”

Presentations from the Venture North Tourism Gathering 2024 can be viewed online, visit: https://www.venture-north.co.uk/about-venture-north/tourism-gathering-2024

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