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'Slow tourism' push for Black Isle aims to entice visitors to get under skin of peninsula

By Hector MacKenzie

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Slow down: That's the message of the new tourist strategy for the Black Isle.
Slow down: That's the message of the new tourist strategy for the Black Isle.

A VISITOR strategy for the Black Isle aims to place the emphasis on "slow tourism" and encourage people to get involved with what's going on around them rather than just passing through.

The Black Isle Tourism Team is launching a strategy document with a strong emphasis on slow tourism, encouraging visitors to "stay close and feel connected".

That ties in with its brand "savour the unexpected".

The document is part of a consultation process which began in November last year at an event that saw over 50 businesses, community groups and local residents represented.

Round table discussions explored issues affecting local communities and sought practical solutions to developing tourism in a way that enhanced, rather than hindered, local life. Key objectives focus on extending ‘the season’ with an all-year-round calendar of attractions; better communication and greater accessibility to what’s on offer; and an invitation to "get under the surface" and be more involved in daily life rather than being an outsider looking in or passing through.

Jon Palmer
Jon Palmer

The first draft of the strategy, which proposes short, medium and long-term actions, will be launched at an event in Culbokie on Monday, April 8. A short walk is planned through Culbokie Woods followed by a meeting at the Culbokie Innwhere conversation, feedback and networking will take place over a soup and sandwich lunch.

Chair of the tourism team, Jon Palmer, said: "This is the first time the Black Isle as a whole has really come together to plan what it wants for the future. We’ve gone to great efforts to involve as many people as possible as it will only work if everyone is on board, and feels they’ve had an input.

"Obviously you have to start somewhere and our initial suggestion of focusing on ‘slow tourism’ and sustainability chimed with the people present at our first planning meeting.

"Since then a small group of us have been putting more flesh on those bones and this document has some very practical proposals for how to put people’s ideas into practice.

"Some of the ideas are very simple and quickly achievable, others are quite aspirational.

"We are all volunteers doing what we can and one of the actions which would make a huge difference is to have a paid officer in post to help drive the whole thing forward. There’s already a lot going on in the different communities, and many exciting plans, but we need to ensure there’s joined-up thinking between all those ideas. That’s what’s at the heart of this strategy."

Anyone with an interest in tourism and how it affects the Black Isle is welcome, but it would be helpful for the organisers to know numbers. Attendees are asked to contact tourism@black-isle.info to be given further details and to reserve places.

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