Outlander helps Inverness tourist boom

Inverness is set to welcome a surge of visitors next year, new figures suggest.

It has been suggested that Outlander's popularity could also be behind the boom. Picture: Starz

Television show Outlander coupled with an increase in domestic flights to the Highland city could be behind the boost in tourism.

The Scottish city was named eighth on a list of the top destinations for European travellers in 2017, based on growth in forward bookings compared with last year.

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Travel firm eDreams Odigeo, the parent company of eDreams and Opodo, has recorded an 80 per cent increase in demand for Inverness.

Its European Traveller Insights Report revealed that Inverness, often regarded as the capital of the Highlands, is set for a larger tourism boost than locations such as Fez, Morocco (75 per cent) and Hanoi, Vietnam (67 per cent).

The company believes this demand could be fuelled by the fall in the value of sterling following the EU referendum, and British Airways reinstating its daily Heathrow-Inverness flights in May for the first time in nearly 20 years.

The enduring success of Outlander could also be behind the increase.

Invermess provost Helen Carmichael said: “We are delighted with this. The Outlander effect is still happening.”

Inverness, which has a population of around 47,000, boasts tourist attractions including its 19th century castle and nearby Cull­oden Battlefield and Visitor Centre.

The city – the largest of the Scottish Highlands – has also topped several polls in recent years naming it the happiest place to live in Scotland.

According to eDreams Odigeo, Turin in northern Italy came top of the European destinations list with a 316 per cent rise in bookings for next year, followed by Astana, Kazakhstan (176 per cent), Rotterdam, the Netherlands (174 per cent) and Havana, Cuba (134 per cent).

Jeddah and Medina, both in Saudi Arabia, came in fifth and sixth place.

Dana Dunne, chief executive of eDreams Odigeo, said it was “particularly interesting” that Inverness made the list.

She said: “Increased accessibility has offered a boost to many destinations.

“Turin has seen an increase in flight routes across Europe which may well have contributed to its significant rise in bookings, while the recent lift in US travel restrictions to Cuba seems to have had a knock-on effect, also attracting visitors from across the rest of the world.

“Furthermore, it’s particularly interesting to see Inverness make the top ten for 2017, with European travellers perhaps drawn to explore new UK destinations following the fall of the pound,” she added.