Published: 07/05/2018 19:00 - Updated: 04/05/2018 09:49

Tourist body defends North Coast 500 poster 'gaffe'

Written byPhilip Murray

 

The large promotional poster for the NC500 which is on display in Inverness tourist information centre.
The large promotional poster for the NC500 which is on display in Inverness tourist information centre.
RED-faced tourism chiefs have defended a poster promoting the North Coast 500 after they used a spectacular image of a road that is not actually part of the route.

 

A large poster by VisitScotland is being used in some tourist information centres to urge people to “Discover the North Coast 500, Scotland’s Route 66”.

But one eagle-eyed visitor was left wondering if the panel’s designer had difficulty “discovering” the route themselves after noticing the image was not taken from the NC500, but instead at the famous viewpoint in Glen Docherty – several miles off the popular touring road.

It led to one amused councillor describing it as being less like Scotland’s Route 66, and more like “Route 67”.

Ian Cockburn, who represents Wester Ross, Strathpeffer and Lochalsh, said the blunder was perhaps understandable given the glen’s proximity to Kinlochewe and Achnasheen – both of which are on the route – but added that they “should be using an image that is completely within the North Coast 500, and there are plenty of them”.

He added: “It’s a bit unfortunate when there’s plenty of lovely views they could have used but I understand that it’s probably intended as a broad brush stroke of the Highlands”.

Fellow ward councillor Kate Stephen was also amused by the gaffe but added that: “It’s really important that some of the areas off the route are promoted too, because there are a lot of really great visitor attractions around about and it would be a shame for them to miss out. There’s a whole pile of brilliant places off the route to explore, such as Strathpeffer.”

Indeed, when the North Highland Initiative created the NC500 concept in 2015 it stressed that the route was intended as a guide and encouraged visitors to deviate from it and explore nearby attractions and communities.

And this point was also made by VisitScotland when defending its poster.

A spokesman said: “This particular image is taken from the stunning Glen Docherty viewpoint just off the route but still showcases the amazing scenery of the NC500.

"This image has also been used by partner organisations and is currently on visitscotland.com on the ‘12 most iconic Scottish Views page’ (as a NC500 shot), as it clearly illustrates the type of stunning landscapes and breathtaking views that visitors can expect when driving the route and exploring the surrounding area.”

And what of the amused reader who spotted the poster?

“I understand where they’re coming from, and can see why they chose Glen Docherty. It’s an iconic Ross-shire image, you can see Loch Maree in the far distance, which is on the route, and the winding road really helps to convey the joy of driving the area.

“But, then again, they could have conjured up the same effect by snapping the hairpins of the Bealach na Ba – with the happy bonus that it actually is on the NC500.”

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