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North Coast 500

New partnership to drive up quality

VisitScotland and the North Coast 500 (NC500) have announced a unique partnership to drive up quality and information provision in businesses along Scotland’s answer to Route 66.

The collaboration will ensure that the tens of thousands of visitors who embark on the route every year will have more access than ever before to information on what to see and do while on their journey.

The agreement will mean that the 261 businesses who are business members of the NC500 destination group will be able to become VisitScotland Information Partners (VIPs) for free, ensuring they are equipped to advise, inform and inspire visitors from all over the world. They will also be given a listing on the national tourism organisation’s website – which receives 20 million sessions per year.

The innovative VisitScotland Information Partnership (VIP) scheme is designed to allow those working within the tourism industry to become local ambassadors for their town or region by providing first-class information to visitors. Launched in May 2016, the VIP programme harnesses the local knowledge, warmth and enthusiasm of partners across the country to help visitors receive the warmest of welcomes and make the most of their trip to Scotland.

The scheme is open to all Quality Assured businesses, as well as community groups, local authority-operated library services and social enterprises. VisitScotland provides the partner sites with official signage and collateral, promotional material and information resources to make sure visitors receive an excellent standard of information about the area and the rest of Scotland. There are currently over 1500 VIPs across Scotland.

The national tourism organisation and NC500 have also committed to working jointly to boost quality of business along the route and will work together on a series of joint roadshows in 2018 focussed on the quality of the visitor experience.

The alliance will begin today and both organisations are confident that it will build upon the already outstanding visitor experience on the 516-mile route through the Highlands, which has become a global phenomenon in just two years.

Referred to as Scotland’s answer to Route 66, the NC500 was created by the North Highland Initiative (NHI). Its aim was to boost tourism in the North Highlands and generate economic opportunities for the area.

A study, carried out by the University of Glasgow Training and Employment Research Unit, estimates the route attracted 29,000 additional visitors and £9 million additional spend in its first year.

Chris Taylor, Regional Partnerships Director at VisitScotland said: “Scotland’s very own answer to Route 66, the North Coast 500 has been one of the biggest tourism success stories of recent years. The route has captured the imagination of visitors around the globe while also providing a fantastic boost to tourism businesses in the Highlands.

“We’re delighted to be announcing this collaboration with NC500. This partnership is not only unique but also hugely important, allowing us to ensure visitors to the route have the best quality experience possible while in the country.

“VisitScotland’s Information Partnership programme aims to ensure that all tourism providers can be local ambassadors and help provide, assistance and advice on all there is to see and do here, including highlighting hidden gems that take visitors off the beaten track and in turn alleviate particularly busy areas.

“We look forward to continuing our work with the NC500 and other partners, ensuring we capitalize on amazing success that the route has enjoyed so far.”

Tom Campbell, Managing Director, North Coast 500, said: “The North Highlands have benefited from the creation of the North Coast 500 with more jobs and new investment coming into the area. This welcome added benefit for our business partners will help them make the most of the opportunity the North Coast 500 represents when it comes to marketing themselves to a national and international audience.”

For more information about the North Coast 500, visit here

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