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Caithness celebrates WorldHost Recognition at Wick event

Tourism businesses in Caithness celebrated the county becoming the first of eleven regions in Scotland to achieve the WorldHost Recognised Destination award at an official presentation hosted at Mackays Hotel in Wick on Monday 20th June.

Lord Thurso, Chair of VisitScotland, and David Allen, Director (Scotland) at People 1st, presented the area with a plaque – one of three, with others on display in Thurso and John O’Groats – in recognition of the hard work and outstanding commitment to customer service offered by tourism businesses in the area.

WorldHost Recognised Destination status is awarded to areas where 25% of businesses achieve the WorldHost Recognised Business standard – meaning they have trained at least half of their front-line staff using WorldHost customer service training, a gold standard in customer service training.

Caithness Chamber of Commerce has been leading the charge to gain Recognised Destination status, offering subsidised training to help businesses train their customer-facing employees. The project first started in 2013, with funding made available by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority through the “Make the Right Connections” programme, and recently through a new initiative run by People 1st with funding from Skills Development Scotland.

The accolade establishes Caithness on the map as a top destination for customer service, demonstrating the commitment of businesses throughout the region to providing the very best service to residents and visitors alike.

Lord Thurso, Chairman of VisitScotland, said: “Consistency in quality across the tourism industry is vitally important and WorldHost's training programme is a superb tool in raising and maintaining high standards.

“It allows businesses to equip their staff to meet the demands and expectations of visitors choosing Caithness as a destination.

“I would like to congratulate these local tourism businesses for attaining this important award and for leading the way in great customer service, for both visitors to the region and locals.”

David Allen, Director (Scotland) at People 1st, said: “I am delighted that we are celebrating Scotland’s first WorldHost Recognised Destination here in Caithness. It’s fantastic to see the commitment that so many local businesses have made to delivering excellent service and becoming WorldHost Recognised. While the immediate benefits of great customer service are clear, it is also vital for the long-term, future success of tourism in Scotland, too. Employers see it as the most important skill needed in their business in the next five years.”

Anna MacConnell, Stakeholder Relations and Socio Economic Manager for the NDA, said: “It’s great to see Caithness Chamber ahead of the curve again! Customer facing staff can make or break the visitor experience and determine whether visitors come back or tell their friends what a great time they had in the county. Tourism is a very important part of the local economy and thanks to the Chamber’s initiative the future for Caithness tourism is another shade brighter.”

As part of the celebration, the event also saw the unveiling of the second in the series of Venture North’s “Discovery” series of short films. Funded by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, SSE and VisitScotland, these films highlight some of the hidden gems, open spaces and wealth of activities on offer throughout the Far North.

Ellie Lamont, Venture North, said: “Caithness has always looked after its visitors so for it to be recognised as the first WorldHost Region is well-deserved recognition.

“Caithness Chamber has worked tirelessly to bring WorldHost standards to Caithness and together with all the businesses who have played their part; this is a proud accolade for all.

“It showcases our area to the world and with the aim to have Sutherland be the next WorldHost Region, we hope our tourism industry benefits from increased visitor numbers.

“We are excited about the release of our second promotional film in the Venture North Discovery Series.  This video promotes the wild, wonderful and beautiful scenery and the activities available around Sutherland & Caithness.  Now visitors can see what awaits them and be assured of a WorldHost welcome to add to their enjoyment of our areas.”

Trudy Morris, Chief Executive of Caithness Chamber of Commerce, said: “We are delighted that Caithness has become the first region in Scotland to achieve WorldHost Recognised Destination status. This is a fantastic achievement and a real testament to the efforts of our local tourism industry to deliver the best possible customer service.

“This accolade establishes Caithness on the map as a world-class destination. Even though destination status has been achieved, the initiative is still running in both Caithness and Sutherland and we encourage businesses to be part of the continuing success story.

“We were also delighted to see the latest film in the Discovery series. Venture North have done a fantastic job highlighting and promoting the natural beauty and hidden gems of the Far North and this, combined with a promise of world-class customer service, gives potential visitors some great reasons to discover the region for themselves.”