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Nessie splashes down in China

By Val Sweeney

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MEMBERS of a Scottish delegation visiting China to strengthen tourism links between the two countries were given a monster welcome by their hosts.

A specially-made Chinese version of the Loch Ness Monster was presented to the visitors during the visit to Guangzhou.

They included Willie Cameron, business development director for Drumnadrochit-based Cobbs, who travels the world promoting the Highlands.

The new Nessie mascots were presented to the delegates by Spark Chen, the president of Nanhu Travel, following a presentation about tourism to Scotland.

“It is an amazing plug for Loch Ness and the Highlands,” Mr Cameron said.

He first established links with Nanhu Travel two years ago resulting in up to 1200 Chinese tourists visiting the Highlands this year while many more are expected next year.

Mr Cameron said the visitors were always interested in Loch Ness given the similarities between the mysteries of Nessie and their own traditional culture and stories.

“There is a synergy between Chinese myths and legends and lake monsters and Loch Ness which makes it very high on their agenda,” he said. “The message I would like to get across to businesses here in the Highlands is to become Chinese-ready.”

Highland firms have been actively courting the China tourist market in recent years, amid strong growth in that sector as more and more middle income Chinese families seek to travel the world.

Earlier this year Edinburgh forged its first direct air service with the country – a link with Beijing - in a sign of the rapid growth in the number of Chinese tourists visiting Scotland.

That move was warmly welcomed by Highland businesses, who believed it would bring a surge in the number of Far East tourists visiting the region.

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