Visitors urged 'help keep north Highlands special' as NC500 chief backs responsible tourism campaign
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The NC500 organisation has given its backing to a new Scotland-wide responsible tourism campaign and urged visitors to "help keep the north Highlands special".
Tom Campbell, executive chairman of North Coast 500 Ltd, underlined the need for tourists to take "individual and collective responsibility" by respecting the region's environment if they are making the popular road trip.
“We want to protect the stunning landscapes and wildlife that Scotland is famous for and support the communities that rely so heavily on tourism for their livelihoods," Mr Campbell said.
"We are asking everyone to help keep the north Highlands special by ensuring we protect our natural resources by being responsible and respectful when out and about.”
The £124,000 VisitScotland campaign is aimed at protecting the countryside with lockdown measures set to be eased in the coming weeks. Under current Scottish Government plans, restrictions on journeys in mainland Scotland will be lifted from April 26.
Tourism bosses hope the initiative will address some of the problems experienced last summer, when there were reports of irresponsible behaviour in some areas after a rise in staycation visitors.
The campaign includes a film on responsible tourism that is being broadcast across radio, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram alongside billboard and outdoor digital screen advertising in Scotland’s main cities. This will be supported by a dedicated responsible tourism page on visitscotland.com
Visitors are asked to protect the countryside and respect communities, wildlife and landscapes while enjoying natural attractions. The advice is to "take only pictures and leave only footprints".
Mr Campbell said: “We fully support VisitScotland’s new responsible tourism campaign in the north Highlands and Scotland-wide.
“It’s important that we work together to help each other through the challenges ahead. NC500 Ltd is continuing to work with Highland Council, VisitScotland and Highlands and Islands Enterprise to plan for the safe reopening of the north Highlands to visitors this summer and beyond.
“The new VisitScotland campaign is hugely important as travel restrictions start to be lifted and we can begin to enjoy the great outdoors in the north Highlands once again. It's now more vital than ever that we realise the impact of our visits to the north Highlands and our individual and collective responsibility to care for this beautiful region of Scotland."
Whether people are travelling in their own vehicle, or hiring one for their visit, NC500 Ltd says it has always encouraged visitors to observe its advice for safe driving on country and single-track roads, overnight parking, access rights and waste disposal, all of which is available on the NC500 website.
If people are camping or in a campervan or caravan, NC500 Ltd continues to urge them to support local businesses along the route. The advice of NC500 Ltd is that visitors should only stay overnight in designated sites and they should book in advance in order that their holiday is planned ahead.
Whether people are travelling by car, bicycle, motorcycle, campervan or motorhome or on foot, NC500 Ltd believes that "we all have a role in disposing of our own waste responsibly". The organisation encourages people to respect communities and not leave waste for others to find or remove.
NC500 Ltd says it is continuing to work with Highland Council and a range of industry partners to focus on responsible and sustainable tourism, actively encouraging visitors to spend more time exploring the region by showcasing "the wild, rugged and varied landscapes of the north Highlands". The organisations is urging visitors to "slow down, explore away from the beaten track and focus on wellbeing experiences as part of their travels, such as walking, hiking and swimming, while being mindful of their environmental impact".