Networking and the net to boost Outer Hebrides tourism

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Communities across the Outer Hebrides are waiting to welcome the world as the area embarks on a triple-pronged tourism promotion to raise the profile of this unique and exciting island chain as a desirable must-visit holiday destination.

Using European and industry networking initiatives combined with a carefully crafted new online identity, the interconnected islands hope to pique the interest of audiences across the world and increase the number of visitors to the area.

Following on from last year’s creation of a new brand to represent these rich and diverse islands, the Outer Hebrides Tourism Industry Association (OHTIA) launched a new dedicated destination website for the archipelago – visitouterhebrides.co.uk - offering a uniquely useable combination of information, inspiration and trip-planning tools to interested travellers anywhere in the world.

The website launch is being timed to coincide with the arrival of delegates from Europe and across the industry, who have been invited to experience these amazing islands for themselves and take part in the Outer Hebrides’ annual tourism conference.

In the Year of Natural Scotland 2013, the Outer Hebrides will welcome representatives of a selection of European destinations, each of which shares an emphasis on environmental attractions.

As part of an OHTIA LEADER Nature Tourism Project familiarisation visit taking place this week the destination delegates will take the opportunity to share their own experiences of attracting and enhancing nature-based tourism, as well as enjoying first-hand a range of Outer Hebridean attractions.

From landing on the beach at Barra (an aviation experience consistently voted as one of the world’s best) to birdwatching at Harris’s eagle observatory to a taste of the islands with dinner at stylish Stornoway eatery Digby Chick, the delegates were offered the chance to experience the essence of the islands, which will enable them to go out and become ambassadors for the Outer Hebrides in their own area.

LEADER’s Innse Gall’s Local Action Group Chairman, Cllr. Alasdair MacLeod, explained: “The nature tourism project is designed to help areas like the Outer Hebrides to exploit the characteristics of small communities and to develop nature based opportunities to develop new tourism products and to help tourists seek out businesses through learning from each other and exchanging knowledge and skills.”