Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing has today visited one of the thousands of Highland businesses hoping to benefit from the Year of Natural Scotland in 2013.
Mr Ewing toured The Scottish Dolphin Centre in Moray where visitors have some of the best land based opportunities in the world to see dolphins in their natural habitat. The Centre is gearing up for the year long celebration of Scotland’s natural environment.
The Year of Natural Scotland is the latest of the Scottish Government’s Focus Years, showcasing some of our country’s best known tourism assets as we progress towards a second Year of Homecoming Scotland in 2014. The Year of Natural Scotland follows the Year of Food and Drink, the Year of Active Scotland and the Year of Creative Scotland.
Mr Ewing said:
“Scotland’s magnificent natural heritage already attracts people from all over the world and the Year of Natural Scotland provides us with an excellent opportunity to make the most of our worldwide reputation as a nation of outstanding natural beauty.
“The Year will be used to encourage greater numbers of visitors, encourage Scots to discover or rediscover Scotland, boost business and enhance both the local and national economy. The Scottish Dolphin Centre is a great example of the type of business that stands ready to benefit from our promotional efforts.
“The Focus Years have already been a great success. Over half a million people attended events and activities celebrating the Year of Food and Drink. We saw a six per cent increase in “active” participation levels during the Year of Active Scotland. Messaging around the Year of Creative Scotland has already reached almost 70 million people across the globe.
“I am sure the Year of Natural Scotland will go on to build on these achievements and showcase our lochs, bens and glens as well as our wildlife and history to the world.”
Regional Director at VisitScotland Scott Armstrong, added:
“Our natural environment is the number one reason why people visit the region and next year’s Year of Natural Scotland focus will give the area a magnificent chance to shine as we celebrate its stunning natural landscapes and beauty.
“The Scottish Dolphin Centre is a fantastic example of a successful company which can only benefit from the year.”
Scottish Dolphin Centre Manager, Alison Jordan said:
“At Whale and Dolphin Conservation’s Scottish Dolphin Centre, we provide a perfect opportunity for people of all ages to enjoy some of the best of Scotland’s natural heritage: dolphins swimming in the Moray Firth, ospreys fishing for salmon and even otters playing in the river if you are very lucky!
“2012 has been a record year for our visitor numbers and we are thrilled that the Year of Natural Scotland in 2013 will mean we can welcome even more people to Spey Bay in the future.
“We always show visitors how they can enjoy wildlife in a responsible manner so we can ensure Scotland’s wildlife can be enjoyed for generations to come.”