Highlands and Islands Enterprise has commissioned a study to investigate the nature and impact of business tourism on the economy of Caithness and North Sutherland.
The report will assess the numbers of rooms currently being booked by business travellers and the trends anticipated in future from major demand generators like nuclear decommissioning and the emerging renewable energy sector.
Local serviced accommodation providers and users of these hotels, guest houses and B&Bs have been providing information about their performance and experiences. The report, due in late September, will outline the current supply and demand picture and identify future trends in business-related travellers coming to the area.
Morag Goodfellow of HIE commented: "HIE's aim is to get a clear picture of current demand and the facilities we are offering to people visiting the area. From this we can plan how best to support Caithness and North Sutherland hospitality businesses to target and meet the needs of expanding markets.
"We want to provide figures which will help the businesses in the tourism sector identify opportunities and plan for their own future investments. HIE works with a number of businesses which are expanding into new markets and this will also give us key information when considering how best to support their ambitions to grow," she added.
Specialist tourism and regeneration consultancy, Tourism Resources Company, have been undertaking the study. They have now gathered and are analysing the data. Director, David Bullough commented: "We appreciate the cooperation given to us by the area's accommodation providers and other stakeholders which has enabled us to get a broad picture of demand levels and sources in the area. We are now modelling the future accommodation requirements based on: the information gathered; future tourism trends; and business opportunities and will be providing insight into where there are potential gaps in accommodation provision."