A £4.45 million investment in Highland Coast Hotels by the Scottish National Investment Bank will help support more sustainable, community-led hospitality around the North Coast 500 tourist route.
The investment will support tourism and employment opportunities in a remote region of northern Scotland, where tourism is crucial to the local economy and vital for supporting communities and businesses.
It will also be used to upgrade four hotels along the route, helping to create full-time jobs within Highland Coast hotels and up to 40 FTE jobs in the region through supply chain investments, and improve the availability of accommodation options for tourists.
The investment aligns with the Bank’s mission to invest in places and regeneration to reduce inequalities and improve opportunities and outcomes for people and communities.
In line with the Bank‘s net zero mission, the investment will also embed sustainability into each hotel and support Highland Coast Hotels’ goal of achieving carbon neutrality.
The Bank loan of £4.45m will support the upgrade of the Royal Golf Hotel in Dornoch, the Royal Marine Hotel in Brora, the Newton Lodge in Unapool and the Kylesku Hotel in Kylesku, all located along the North Coast 500. The loan will be repaid from the revenue generated by the hotels.
Eilidh Mactaggart, CEO of the Scottish National Investment Bank, said: “Our investment will support vital industry for the Highlands while ensuring quality employment, education and training opportunities in rural communities.
“The investment will also benefit local businesses through Highland Coast Hotels’ commitment to sourcing food, drink and other supplies locally, and partnering with other local businesses who can offer activities and experiences. tourists to their customers.”
As well as creating direct and indirect jobs, the investment will also ensure that Highland Coast Hotels can continue to provide education and training opportunities for the hospitality industry through the University of the Highlands & Islands and springboard collaborations, and a minimum of 10 apprenticeships over the next three years.
David Whiteford, Chairman of Highland Coast Hotels, said: “This investment from the Scottish National Investment Bank is not only important for our highly talented teams within Highland Coast Hotels, but also for the much-loved communities in which we operate. We will continue to develop hotels that communities can frequent and be proud of, while our goal is to source products as closely as possible, bringing significant benefits to the local supply chain.
“We are already collaborating with a number of artists, artisans, ‘visitor experience’ providers and local food producers to enhance the authenticity of visitor experiences, grow local businesses and spur the creation of “start-ups”.
“We have already established Community Liaison Committees for each hotel that will ensure local people and businesses are involved in key decisions that affect their way of life on the North Shore 500.
“One of the biggest challenges facing remote areas like this is the lack of job opportunities, especially for young people. This is why we are particularly delighted that the investment will lead to the development of a new foundation course in hospitality at the University of the Highlands and Islands and the establishment of a modern apprenticeship programme.
“We are also hoping to secure additional funding from Highlands and Islands Enterprise to help with development plans.
“This investment is undoubtedly helping to put the North Coast 500 community firmly on the path to a more sustainable future.”