The programme will form part of the HIE-led Northern Innovation Hub (NIH), a project that received £11 million from the UK Government and £1.7m ERDF support as part of the Inverness and Highland City Region Deal. The Deal is a joint £315 million initiative supported by both the UK and Scottish governments.
Tourism is one of four key growth sectors included in the NIH and includes digital and adventure tourism.
The adventure tourism programme will provide intensive engagement, support and interventions for up to 50 businesses and providers in the sector across the Highland Council area.
It will tap into the area’s natural competitive advantage and help firms collaborate, create scale and develop an understanding of new consumer markets in the growing sector.
Outcomes will include new and stronger working relationships between businesses and the wider sector. There will be support for innovation, entrepreneurship and ambition, as well as capacity and capabilities within individual businesses.
Seb Shingler, development manager for tourism in HIE’s Northern Innovation Hub team, said:
“The Highland Council area has more adventure tourism related businesses than any other Scottish local authority area. The sector also has significant potential for further growth, with most firms expecting more activity in the medium and longer term. It is therefore logical that tourism, particularly adventure tourism, is one of the key sectors covered by the Northern Innovation Hub.
“We are looking to engage a contractor to help develop the programme. It will include industry research and market intelligence, case studies and examples. It will help develop methods of attracting new customers, particularly from international markets, and to overcome the barriers specific to the sector.”
The project will act as a pilot and following a thorough review the model could be rolled out across the Highlands and Islands and Scotland.