Outer Hebrides Tourism recovery plan secures £375,000 from HIE

Outer Hebrides Tourism recovery plan secures £375,000 from HIE

Robert MacKinnon

A three-year project to restore confidence and resilience in the Outer Hebrides’ tourism sector has secured £375,354 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

The £710,652 project, led by destination management organisation Outer Hebrides Tourism (OHT), will deliver a series of initiatives aimed at inspiring, enabling and delivering destination recovery.

The HIE funding will ensure that OHT is sufficiently resourced to play a vital role in the recovery of tourism across the island chain and up to four jobs will be created to support OHT and associated projects.

HIE recognises the important role played by destination management organisations (DMOs), their extensive reach into local businesses and communities and their influence on a sustainable green tourism recovery alongside responsible visitor management.

The funding of this project will enable OHT to work with its members and public sector partners to deliver on the Sealladh 2030 (Outlook 2030) tourism strategy, which puts people and communities at the centre of the industry. Continued partnership working with Visit Scotland, CalMac and others to promote the islands will stimulate demand and help drive economic recovery.

The HIE funding is from £3m approved by the agency in September 2020 to support strategically important tourism DMOs over the next three years, as part of wider support for the tourism sector’s recovery.

Joanna Peteranna, HIE’s head of enterprise support, said: “Tourism is central to the Outer Hebrides’ economy and a vital source of rural employment and community resilience. Prior to the impact of the pandemic, the tourism sector had enjoyed a decade of sustained growth, adding much-needed momentum to the islands’ economy.

“OHT provides valuable co-ordinated support for the sector and has been a valuable voice for the industry over the last year. Its updated strategy identifies the priorities for the sector’s recovery, focusing on communities, employment, businesses as well as the visitor experience.

“It is important that the organisation has sufficient resources to be as effective as possible in delivering against these priorities, and that’s why we have granted this funding.

“We look forward to continuing our work with OHT, our partners and the Outer Hebrides tourism sector to achieve a successful and sustainable recovery.”

Robert McKinnon, chief executive of OHT, added: “The three years of funding will provide the stability required for OHT to co-ordinate the recovery of tourism which is crucial to the island economy. Delivering the plan will see the sector evolve to improve both economic resilience, through extending the season as well as increased benefits to our communities.

“We will continue its work on the ground throughout the islands with communities, businesses and our public sector partners to get tourism back on its feet and equipped to face the future.”

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