North Coast 500 is a tourism marketing success story

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 15:33:00 BST

“Scotland’s answer to Route 66 has caught the imagination of summer holidaymakers,” says Glasgow Caledonian University’s Professor John Lennon.

From Inverness-shire to Easter Ross, Caithness to Sutherland, more than 500 miles of the best of the North Highlands is enjoying a surge in tourists venturing the rugged coastline.

“A looped route is attractive to visitors, who prefer discovering in circuitous routes rather than retracing their steps,” says Professor Lennon.

“The end of land masses and peninsulas and the furthest points north or south provide an enduring fascination, think of Cape Cod in the US culminating in Provincetown or the Florida Keys ending with the glorious Key West; in the UK, it’s the appeal of Land’s End and John o’Groats.”

Professor Lennon, Director of the Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism Business Development, the UK’s largest university based tourism consultancy and research centre, was commissioned to provide feasibility analysis for the route just over two years ago.

As a result, the North Highland Initiative embarked on a campaign to highlight some of Scotland’s most scenic spots and improve tourism in the region to benefit the local economy. The campaign to promote the North Coast 500 touring route showcased the breath-taking scenery, fairy-tale castles and beaches and has been championed by visitors, with more than half of those recently surveyed* intending to return.

The new route has been named fifth in a list of ‘six of the best’ coast road trips on the planet by Now Travel magazine and featured in travel magazines,  publications and media channels all over the world.

Businesses in the area report that they have had an increase of up to 35%* in trade, which they could attribute directly to visitation catalysed by the development of the route, according to a recent survey.

“The North Coast 500 is fast becoming the most successful tourism development initiative in the north of Scotland with visitors staying between 5 to 7 nights on average, which is a real success story for tourism to this part of Scotland, impacting on accommodation, food and beverage, and retail.”