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Crest of a wave

Graeme Ambrose, Shirley Robertson and Ed Shoote are pictured ahead of this year's Highland Tourism Conference

The importance of tourism businesses engaging with the outdoor activity market was amongst the topics discussed at this year’s Highland Tourism Conference.

Keynote speaker and double gold Olympic medallist Shirley Robertson encouraged delegates to grasp opportunities to boost their businesses, including Scotland’s Year of Coast and Waters in 2020.

The annual event took place at The Drumossie Hotel in Inverness and around 180 people involved in tourism from across the Highlands attended to hear thought-provoking presentations, content and workshops as well as exhibitions from a range of organisations and experienced industry professionals.

VisitScotland worked in partnership with The Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Highland Tourism Partnership to deliver this year’s conference, the overarching theme of which was Managing the Visitor Experience.

From visitors looking to experience a niche market such as sailing, whisky or mountain-biking trails, to those visitors attending or participating in local events – there are multiple points at which ways tourism businesses can extend the Scottish welcome and enhance that visitor’s individual experience of the Highlands.

This year’s conference came hot on the heels of the announcement that travel authority Lonely Planet had selected Scotland’s Highlands and Islands amongst its Best in Travel for 2019 – the only Scottish destinations to be included.

The workshops and presentations offered insights and practical solutions to help tourism businesses take advantage of a host of new opportunities to help increase visitor numbers.

Shirley is an ambassador for Scotland and has much experience in extending the Scottish welcome and engaging with specialist activity markets. She made it into the history books by becoming the first British woman to win two Olympic gold medals at consecutive Games.

Shirley said: “Nailing a top ten spot in the Lonely Planet’s ‘Best in Travel’ confirms what we all knew, especially if you love an outdoor adventure, that the Highlands are the place to be.

“But for me as a water lover I’m also delighted that 2020 has been chosen as Scotland’s Year of Coast and Waters. What a massive opportunity we have to showcase our stunning coastline, and get more people than ever enjoying one of the best cruising grounds on the planet.”

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