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Highlands Set For Faroese Tourism Boost

31st January 2007

A joint marketing campaign between The Highland Council and VisitScotland could see between 5 - 6,000 cruise passengers from Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Norway visiting the North of Scotland and generating around 2.5 million to the Highland economy.

Faroese ferry operators, Smyril Line, have just launched their 2007 brochure featuring holiday packages to the Scottish Highlands. The 1,800 passenger vessel will make weekly visits to the Caithness port of Scrabster starting mid-June and running through to the end of August. The ferry operates a route linking Iceland, Faroe Islands, Norway, Denmark and Shetland. The company have chosen to include mainland Scotland in their itinerary in response to demand from their customers. Smyril will be offering caravan park packages to family groups from Iceland and Faroe and "Highland Exclusive" touring packages to couples from Iceland, Norway and Faroe.

The Highland Council and VisitScotland have jointly contributed to a marketing campaign in Smyril's key markets of Iceland, Faroe Islands and Norway to promote the Scottish packages. Smyril estimate they will deliver between 5,000 and 6,000 passengers to Scrabster, generating in the region of 2.5 million to the Highland economy.

Highland Council's Tourism Development Officer, Gordon Ireland, has been in regular contact with the company since last August, when Smyril's Product Development and Marketing Managers visited the area to assess the potential and select a port of call.

Last week Mr Ireland led a group of the company's sales and reservations staff from Faroe and Norway on a familiarisation visit around the Highlands to allow them to experience the Highlands at first hand.

Jakup Sverri Kass, Smyril's Product and Marketing Manager, was delighted with the trip. He said: "My sales staff need to be able to answer customers~ questions about Scotland when they enquire about our packages. I would like to thank Highland Council very much for organising this familiarisation visit. In the three days we have seen everything we wanted to see and have driven the routes we will be recommending to our customers.

"This is the first time my sales staff have been to the Highlands and they all thought it was fantastic. The scenery is so beautiful, even in winter, and the people we met have all been so friendly. We have had a wonderful experience and we are excited about selling this new product to our customers."

The familiarisation visit took in Inverness, Loch Ness, Skye, Ullapool, North West Highlands Geopark, Thurso, Castle of Mey, Wick, Dornoch, Falls of Shin and Nairn.

David Richard-Jones, representing the Caithness & Sutherland Visitor Attractions Group, arranged the programme for the far north section of the trip. He said: "This was a great opportunity to showcase the range of visitor attractions we have in Caithness & Sutherland. With the ferry using Scrabster, all of these new visitors will start and end their holiday in Caithness. Smyril Line tell us that they are using Grannie's Heilan~ Hame at Embo as a base for some of their family groups, so many of the attractions in Sutherland will benefit from this new business."

Councillor Duncan Allan, Highland Council's tourism spokesman, met the group in Dornoch. Councillor Allan said: "I was very impressed with their professional approach and their enthusiasm. They were taking lots of photographs, asking lots of questions and making copious notes as they travelled around. I'm sure this visit will prove worthwhile and we look forward to welcoming our new Faroese, Icelandic and Norwegian guests to Dornoch."