North Coast 500 hotels set for upgrade
The Scottish National Investment Bank (SNIB) has announced a £4.45 million investment into Highland Coast Hotels to help to support more sustainable and community-led hospitality around the North Coast 500 tourist route.
The investment will support tourism and employment opportunities in a remote area of north Scotland, where tourism is crucial for the local economy and is vital to sustain 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 within the local area through supply chain investment, 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 in each hotel and support Highland Coast Hotels’ objective to achieve carbon neutrality.
The bank’s loan will support the upgrade of the Royal Golf Hotel in Dornoch, the Royal Marine Hotel in Brora, Newton Lodge in Unapool and the Kylesku Hotel in Kylesku, all situated along the North Coast 500. The loan will be repaid by income generated by the hotels.
Eilidh Mactaggart, CEO of the Scottish National Investment Bank, said: “Our investment will support a vital industry for the Highlands whilst securing quality employment, educational and training opportunities in rural communities.
“The investment will also benefit local businesses through Highland Coast Hotels’ commitment to sourcing food, beverages and other supplies locally, and partnering with other local businesses who can offer activities and visitor experiences to its guests.”
As well as direct and indirect employment creation, the investment will also ensure that Highland Coast Hotels can continue to provide education and training opportunities for the hospitality sector through the University of Highlands & Islands and springboard collaborations, and a minimum of 10 apprenticeships over the next three years.
David Whiteford, chairman of Highland Coast Hotels, added: “This investment from the Scottish National Investment Bank is not only significant for our highly-talented teams within Highland Coast Hotels, but also the much-valued communities in which we operate. We will continue to develop hotels that communities can frequent and be proud of, whilst our aim is to source all produce from as close-by as we possibly can, bringing significant benefits to local supply chain.
“We are already engaging with a number of local artists, artisans, ‘visitor experience’ providers and food producers to build the authenticity of guest experiences, grow local businesses and stimulate the creation of ‘start-ups’.
“We’ve already established Community Liaison Committees for each hotel which will ensure local people and businesses are involved in key decisions that affect their way of life on the North Coast 500.”
He continued: “One of the biggest challenges that remote areas like this face is a lack of employment opportunities, particularly for young people. That’s why we are especially excited that the investment will lead to the development of a new Hospitality Foundation Course at the University of Highlands & Islands and the establishment of a Modern Apprenticeship Scheme.
“We are also hoping to be awarded further valued funding from Highlands and Islands Enterprise to help the development plans. This investment undoubtedly helps put the North Coast 500 community firmly on the road to a more sustainable future.”