Highland Council To Set Up Tourism Working Group
14th December 2017
The Highland Council has agreed to set up a tourism working group to take a strategic overview and set priorities to support the success and growth of tourism in the Highlands.
The Council has also agreed to identify financial support that allows EventScotland and their partners to bid for future major International events to be hosted in Highland.
Sustainable tourism is one of Scotland's key growth sectors and is the Highlands' most important industry, generating significant economic benefits for the area, worth £965m of direct spend by tourists in 2016 and a further £226m of indirect expenditure by the tourism industry purchasing goods and services in Highland. This brings a total economic impact of £1.2 billion, directly supporting over 24,000 jobs.
Tourism has seen a period of sustained growth with the overall economic impact of tourism growing by 34% over the period 2012 - 2016 and 2017 has been another exceptionally successful year. One early indicator, the number of visits to visitor attractions, has seen numbers increase by 8.7% for the period January to September 2017 - double the rate of increase of 4.3% seen in the rest of Scotland.
In addition to providing economic benefits, tourism also brings a range of wider benefits to Highland and many of its communities, supporting a range of local services, an increased numbers of air routes and helping to position Highland as an attractive place which in turn assists in attracting inward investment.
Globally one of the growth areas in tourism has been in event tourism such as mountain biking, golf and music events. Attracting and retaining such events in Highland is not necessarily straightforward, and requires significant resource to support such bids.
Chair of the Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee, Cllr Allan Henderson said: "The significant success of tourism in the Highlands is to be welcomed. We are a region which is rich in scenery, culture and heritage and it is wonderful to see tourists flocking here to experience our beautiful Highlands.
"Notwithstanding the welcome increase in tourists, the Council recognises the need to resolve a number of infrastructure challenges in order to support the continued growth and success of tourism in the region. Resolving these issues is not something that the Council can accomplish on its own. It will require both a joined up approach between the Council, communities, businesses and in some cases other public sector partners and will also require additional resources. However, the Council is well placed to take an overview of these issues and has the ability to play a significant role in addressing many of them together with our partners and other agencies."
The pressures on infrastructure vary from place to place and indeed across the year but some key issues include inadequate parking at popular tourist sites; extensive single track roads not designed with this level of use in mind; a lack of public toilets in some locations; irresponsible (and illegal) disposal of waste; increased erosion of paths; and limited electric vehicle charging points."
Cllr Henderson added: “We welcome the Scottish Government’s recent recognition of the issues and announcement of a Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund. Details of how the fund might be used and by whom have yet to be announced, but £6 million shared across Scotland over 2 years, will not make much of an impact on challenges of this scale.”
Speaking at Highland Council's Corporate Resources Committee today (24 May 2018), Budget Leader Cllr Alister Mackinnon said that the Council's reported overspend showed the extent to which successive budget reductions and council tax freezes meant the authority had no wriggle room to manage significant pressures in demand-led services like supporting children with additional support needs. He said:"We have done everything we can to protect front line services and particularly services to children and young people.
The public is being asked for its views on proposals by The Highland Council to review the maximum level of charges for the hire of taxis or private hire cars fitted with taxi meters operating under licence of The Highland Council. The Council has a statutory duty in terms of Section 17 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 to review its scales for the fares and other taxi related charges every 18 months.
A report published today by the local authority spending watchdog looks at how councils are using the estimated 130 ALEOs (arms-length external organisations) in Scotland, which have an annual spend of more than £1.3 billion, and the impact they are making. ALEOs can take many forms - such as companies, community organisations or charities.
Members of The Highland Council's Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee have given their backing to new shop front guidance aimed at ensuring high quality designs for traditional, replacement and new shopfronts throughout the Highlands. The Guidance sets out general principles for repair, reinstatement and replacement of shopfronts, as well as general principles for new shopfronts in new development.
Councillor Matthew Reiss, who represents the Thurso and Northwest Caithness Ward, has been elected as Chairman of The Highland Council's Caithness Committee. He takes over from Councillor Donnie Mackay who has held the role since June 2017.
Members of the Caithness Committee have on Wednesday 16th May 2018 approved the Council's 2018/19 structural maintenance programmes for roads in the area for the coming year which reflects both the strategic network and the importance attached to local roads by rural communities. The revenue budget for road maintenance activities in Caithness for 18/19 is £1.214M of which £0.539M is allocated for winter maintenance with a further capital budget of £0.785M The Highland Council's allocation to areas for structural road maintenance is based on the results of the annual Scottish Road Maintenance Condition Survey, safety inspections, service inspections and input from local members.
The Highland Council remains on track to deliver much-needed affordable homes across the Highlands as recent figures produced show all new home completions in Highland are on the up. In its Strategic Housing Plan 2018-2023 the Council has a pledge to approve a minimum of 500 units each year of which 70% will be for affordable rent and 30% for low cost home ownership.
AVIEMORE now has access to free WIFI in and around the centre of the town thanks to a project led by the Highland Council and funded by the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal. The free WiFi, called "High-Fi", is aimed at stimulating economic growth and will increase digital inclusion across the Highlands.
The Highland Council has considered Audit Scotland's report on Local Government in Scotland, Challenges & Performance 2018. Audit Scotland recognises that councils will continue to face difficult decisions with limited resources.
The work of the Redesign Board has been considered by Council today. The Redesign Board is fundamentally changing the way the council does things.
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