Chamber Matters: Tourism for the Future
Published 27 Jun 2014Andrew Mackay, owner of the Caithness Collection of hotels and director of Caithness Chamber of Commerce, talks about why tourism matters to Caithness
The tourism and hospitality industry has been a major part of my life for 24 years now, and in that time I’ve always believed in the importance of the industry and been keen to expand its potential. I’ve also believed that Caithness is an area of great potential for hospitality and tourism, and eight years ago I was given the chance to develop that when I took over the Castletown Hotel.
Since then, I believe I’ve shown the potential of the area, expanding to take over both the Norseman Hotel in Wick and the Pentland Hotel in Thurso, and rebranding the business as the Caithness Collection.
However, I believe that Caithness still has much more to offer. Skye has recently demonstrated its viability as a year-round tourism destination, and I would like to see Caithness follow suit. Summer will always be a peak time for tourism, but with a bit of work I believe we can make Caithness a year-round destination.
Developing tourism as a year-round offering would also have a knock-on effect on another area I’m keen to develop – working with young people to promote the hospitality and tourism as a professional career.
The Caithness Collection has already had great success working with young people from the local area, helping them to develop a work ethic and enabling them to go on to great success. The Chamber is also leading from the front on this through its leadership of the regional Invest in Youth Group.
This innovative initiative, developed to implement the recommendations of the Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce, involves collaboration between employers, education and the public sector to develop a wider range of employment opportunities for the area’s young people. This initiative has fantastic potential for the area, and I’m proud that the Chamber is taking the lead in developing it.
I want to bring hospitality and tourism to the table, to show young people in the area that the sector can offer them a fantastic career and, importantly, that they don’t have to move away from the area in order to achieve this.
We have already worked closely with North Highland College on this, and have had a number of successes, but there is always room for improvement.
Through collaboration within the industry, with the public sector and with education, we can build a strong, vibrant tourism industry in Caithness, bringing benefits to our economy, our culture and our young people.
I believe that tourism matters – it matters to employees, to visitors, and to locals. It matters to our young people, who will be the bedrock of our economic future. Tourism matters to me, and it matters to Caithness.