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A seasonal marketing campaign highlighting the natural and cultural heritage of the Highlands and Islands through the autumn months has been launched.
The Spirit of the Highlands and Islands autumn campaign – the final strand in a two-year project – encourages visitors to slow down and immerse themselves in the regions’ distinct culture and heritage. It also suggests visiting outwith the traditional tourism season and venturing off the beaten track to explore further.
The £1.16M Spirit of the Highlands and Islands project is a partnership between the Highland Council and High Life Highland, in collaboration with VisitScotland, who have delivered a £500,000 multi-channel marketing campaign to promote the Highlands and Islands to Scottish, wider UK and European visitors.
The project is the first time that VisitScotland and its regional partners have delivered a co-ordinated effort across the whole of the Highlands and Islands, spotlighting less-visited rural areas and bringing benefits across the regions - from Shetland to Arran and Cumbrae.
It encourages visitors to explore and experience the less discovered parts of the Highlands and Islands and inspires them to attend and support festivals and events and to discover visitor attractions and outdoor locations across the area.
The project also promotes off season visits across the Highlands and Islands and suggests visitors slow down and immerse themselves in local experiences, maximising the benefits and contributing to the sustainable growth of the tourism sector.
The diversity of the Highlands and Islands – its spirit – is at the heart of the project, with places, people and their stories being key themes. It aims to inspire visitors to enjoy and care for this unique heritage.
Chris Taylor, VisitScotland Destination Development Director, said: “The Spirit of the Highlands and Islands project is the single biggest campaign we have ever undertaken around responsible tourism in these regions.
“It has been created with the help of the many communities across the Highlands and Islands who have fed in their stories and content ideas to bring it to life.
“The autumn campaign is a pioneering and innovative way to help grow tourism responsibly in the Highlands and Islands whilst connecting visitors with our unique nature and culture.
“We encourage visitors to explore some stunning places, engage with the unique landscape and biodiversity and enjoy it responsibly. There are a whole range of experiences, tours and trips, festivals and events to enjoy, as well as visitor attractions and a wealth of amazing places to stay.”
Fiona Hampton, Director of the Inverness Castle Project, said: “We’re delighted to be partnering VisitScotland with this joint campaign promoting the natural and cultural heritage of the Highlands and Islands to domestic and international audiences.
“The campaign will support our work to encourage people living here and visitors to the region to discover a wide range of places and experiences they can find in lesser-known locations across the Highlands and Islands at quieter times of the year.”
The autumn campaign includes a suite of new autumn videos and imagery, showcasing the region’s distinctive heritage and authentic connections with rural communities.
The dedicated Spirit of the Highlands and Islands website also enables visitors to discover unique locations to visit throughout the region in the autumn, immersing themselves in community stories, inspirational video and audio content, alongside 10 themed itineraries.
The £130k autumn campaign, which runs until October, also includes digital media activity on YouTube and social media channels in the UK and the Netherlands, as well as publishing partnerships with The Guardian in the UK and Die Zeit in Germany.
A number of influencer trips are also planned and will cover various locations, including the Isle of Arran, Orkney, Kintyre, Cowal and Gigha.
Press trips will see journalists from the UK and Germany visiting the Isle of Coll, Easdale Island and the Isle of Mull in Argyll; Glenelg and Sandwood Bay in the Highlands and Shetland.
There will also be a virtual webinar and targeted Spirit-dedicated workshops for the travel trade.
The project is supported by a grant from the Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund (NCHF), led by NatureScot and part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
For more information, visit the website at: Uncover the Spirit of the Highlands and Islands | Discover the Highlands and Islands of Scotland (discoverhighlandsandislands.scot)