A report issued this week outlines how Caithness and North Sutherland businesses could benefit from working more closely together to create an area wide tourism identity.
Following widespread consultation involving tourism providers and visitors, analysis by the Tourism Resource Company (TRC) which was commissioned by HIE to support regional growth, outlines growing markets and points out that many operators displaying individual strengths could come together to support the region.
The report recommends that creating a leadership team and local tourism development groups would provide joined up information on services and boost marketing power.
Rachel Skene, HIE's Head of Tourism for Caithness and North Sutherland, commented: "Many local businesses and providers have fed into this report which offers a comprehensive overview of the current market and identifies the opportunities for growth.
"Businesses working together could create a more connected strategy leading to a better overall visitor experience. We want to find more and more ways to not only meet, but exceed the expectations of visitors coming to Caithness and North Sutherland."
The economic baseline indicates the value of tourism in Caithness and North Sutherland to be £35.2 million, contributing to the value of the sector in the Highlands of £1.2 billion and in Scotland of £4.2billion.
Rachel added: "Increasingly partnership working is producing results for the area, HIE itself is a member of Caithness and North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership. Collaboration between grass roots industry, regional and national bodies is essential in making the area a competitive destination in the national and international marketplace.
"We want to maximise the opportunities created by developments like John O'Groats and the growth in business tourism expected from the emerging renewable industry.
"Tourism development work so far has created a strong foundation. Our next steps will build on local achievements to create a broader destination plan for all."