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Ewing visits major John O'Groats tourism development

12 March 2012

Minister tours £6m project to revitalise destination during Scottish Tourism Week

Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing today visited the site of the first luxury apartment to be built in a major project to redevelop the John O'Groats House Hotel and strengthen the local tourism industry.

As part of Scottish Tourism Week, Mr Ewing met representatives of Natural Retreats who are creating the £6m resort, which will establish 16 luxury apartments and 23 stand alone holiday residences on the site and surrounding land of the former hotel.

International holiday firm Natural Retreats already offers self-catering and short break holidays in the Yorkshire Dales, Fistral Beach, Cornwall, West Highlands and Llyn Peninsula in North Wales.

The first phase of the project, which will help to realise the economic potential of the John O'Groats area, is receiving £1.8m support from Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Four development phases have been identified for John O'Groats. As well as accommodation provision, there are proposals to develop the public area, the Last House Museum and shop, and to expand and upgrading of the Journey's End Café. Later phases will deliver additional commercial space and visitor facilities.

Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing said: "The Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and VisitScotland recognise the major contribution tourism makes to our economy and we are working hard to strengthen and growth the industry.

"Visitors from across the world travel to Scotland for its breathtaking natural beauty, heritage and the wealth of world class visitor experiences on offer. This project to rejuvenate the former John O'Groats House Hotel capitalises on the area's unique setting and beauty to strengthen the local tourism industry and offer a first class visitor experience.

"The development, which is receiving £1.8m support from HIE, will act as a catalyst to help kick start the regeneration of the area, create local jobs and attract new investment.

"It's important our tourism industry is in the best possible shape to make the most of the huge opportunities that are coming our way in the next few years. We have many major events and milestones to look forward to, including the release this summer of Disney-Pixar's Brave.

"By highlighting the fantastic facilities and attractions we have to offer we can encourage even more people to come Scotland in the run-up to the Year of Homecoming, the Ryder Cup and the Commonwealth Games in 2014."

Anthony Wild of Natural Retreats said: "We are delighted that Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing has visited the site and is able to view the project and its developments so far. We are at an exciting stage of the process and the visit really shows the level of commitment from our stakeholders."

Highlands and Islands Enterprise's head of transformational projects, Carol Gunn said: "It is great to see the ambitions of our local communities, businesses and visitors taking shape. Our shared aim is to create a vibrant destination which reflects the natural beauty of John O'Groats where people will want to spend more time.

"Natural Retreats, Heritage Great Britain and HIE's investment at John O'Groats will provide the quality of destination John O'Groats demands and is also unlocking the true economic benefits it can bring for the wider region."

For more information about Natural Retreats developments visit, and for Heritage Great Britain please visit

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