Scotland's North Coast 500 set for post-pandemic 'tourism boom'

More than three-quarters of people who have delayed plans to travel the North Coast 500 expect to visit within a year of Covid-19 restrictions being lifted.

View of Loch Maree from Glen Doherty - part of the North Coast 500 scenic route around the north coast of Scotland.
View of Loch Maree from Glen Doherty - part of the North Coast 500 scenic route around the north coast of Scotland.

In a survey of 4,000 people by the North Coast 500 (NC500) group, 80% said the pandemic has had no impact on their desire to explore the tourist route and they want to tour the Highlands once restrictions are lifted.

It is hoped more Scots will explore the 516-mile route as international travel proves difficult.

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Tom Campbell, executive chairman of NC500 Ltd, said: "It's extremely encouraging to see that a significant number of visitors are already rescheduling their plans to visit the NC500 this summer, into 2021 and beyond.

"This really is a positive sign for the re-emergence of the tourism industry in the north Highlands.

"The breathtaking natural scenery, wide open green spaces, majestic mountain ranges, sandy beaches and rugged coastline of the NC500 are key factors that will draw visitors back to the region and away from larger towns and cities after lockdown."

The survey suggests the average number of days visitors plan to travel the NC500 has increased from nine to 11, indicating more people expect to make use of "staycations" in the coming year.

Some visitors said they will be looking to tourism and hospitality businesses to adopt new health and safety measures.

People expecting to stay in self-catering facilities, camping or glamping sites have also increased, due to visitors wanting to stay in self-isolated accommodation.

A previous survey from the NC500 group found 67% of businesses anticipated reopening in 2020, while 18% were hopeful they would reopen by 2021.

Mr Campbell added: "As we all begin to think about what life might look like beyond the coronavirus pandemic, we know that the stunning natural landscape of NC500 remains reassuringly unchanged and will continue to inspire people from around Scotland, the rest of the UK and beyond when it's safe travel.

"As we start to plan for the reopening of tourism in the north Highlands, NC500 will continue to work to help deliver a balance between economic recovery and public safety."

Last year, it was estimated the NC500 boosted the economy by £22.89 million and created 179 full-time jobs.

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