THE spectacular coastline of the Moray Firth has been named in the top twelve of the world’s most beautiful and unspoiled coastlines in a major boost for the local tourism industry.
The Moray coast, stretching from Inverness to Peterhead, has been rated at eleventh place by a panel of 340 experts in sustainable tourism and destination stewardship in the prestigious National Geographic Society’s Travel magazine, ahead of the Dalmatian coast, the shores of Bermuda and the Antarctic Peninsula.
The magazine entry for the Moray coast states: “A popular vacation spot for more than a century, this coast offers outstanding cliff scenery and maintains a strong community feeling. Seasonal and year-round residents appear to live in relative harmony. Tourism keeps pretty coastal villages economically afloat as Scotland’s fishing industry declines.”
One of the panellists proclaimed: “A wonderful region of Scotland. Beaches are fantastic, and the area welcomes visitors as one of their own. Largely rural. People work together for the greater good—fishermen tolerate canoeists; farmers allow walkers to pass over their land on footpaths, etc.”
Another said: “An undiscovered gem with pretty coastal villages, excellent beaches, and outstanding cliff scenery. Sadly, some town centres are deteriorating as supermarkets force local retailers out of business. Local restaurant food remains pretty mediocre despite the excellent seafood caught here.”
And another panellist told the magazine: “A lot of self-catering accommodation and second homes. The area is attractive to walkers, cyclists, wildlife watchers, and surfers. It also offers whale and dolphin watching.”
Councillor Allan Wright, the leader of Moray Council, welcomed the accolade. He said: “I am delighted. It’s gratifying to read that all these experts appreciate the beauty and the sense of community of the Moray coast.
“I think the Moray coast is special because it has got a whole host wildlife, including the dolphins, and a variety of communities that can be visited. And I think the finding of the survey, in terms of taking visitors to out hearts, is generally true - especially in the smaller former fishing villages long the Moray coast.”
He said: “In many ways the coast is a hidden gem. Moray has always had the reputation for having the greatest number of days of sunshine in Scotland. And accolades like this will hopefully lead to more visitors coming to the area. Tourism is absolutely key to our economic strategy.and anything like this helps enormously - especially when it comes from a recognised and highly regarded magazine.”
Scott Armstrong, VisitScotland’s regional director said: “This is fantastic news and a tremendous accolade for Moray. This places Moray firmly on the international stage of places of outstanding beauty and will also be a great tool for showcasing the area as a holiday destination.
“Furthermore, 2013 is the Year of Natural Scotland, this is our opportunity to showcase Scotland’s unique natural environment and grow tourism not only in this area but every corner of Scotland.”
The top 18 coastlines are:
1. Newfoundland: Avalon Peninsula
2. Wales: Pembrokeshire Coast
3. New Zealand: Tutukaka Coast
4. Chile: Chilean Fjords
5. Hawaii: Na Pali Coast
6. Oman: Batinah Coast
7. British Columbia: Gulf Islands
8. Nova Scotia: South Shore
9. Australia. Broome
10. Argentina: Valdés Peninsula
11. Scotland: Moray Firth Coast, Inverness to Peterhead
12. Italy. Cinque Terre
13. Namibia: Skeleton Coast
14. Cook Islands
15. New Zealand: Great Barrier Island
16. Georgia: Sea Islands
17. Oregon: Oregon coast
18. Prince Edward Island