The area economy is dominated by tourism, which accounts for 35 per cent of employment. Lochaber, Skye and Wester Ross enjoys international renown for the quality of its natural environment and increasingly for the quality of the natural produce on offer.
The most significant growth areas in recent years have been in the outdoor activity sector and the higher-end market for food and accommodation. This has contributed to an increase in the number of year-round visitors and to a reduction in the seasonality of employment. It is our ambition to build on this success and to promote collaboration between businesses whilst also identifying opportunities to develop sectors that are less strongly represented.
The recognised advantages of our environment and the natural larder are also important for the food and drink sector, where activity ranges from major players in the aquaculture industry to small niche market producers, the latter often located in the fragile areas.
Similarly, the profile of the creative industries in the area ranges from the nationally significant television and film industry activity found at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on Skye, to micro-enterprises specialising in IT and web development. Several small-scale music studios and arts and crafts businesses are located in fragile areas, although their location may be governed by access to resilient IT infrastructure.
Sectors such as life sciences and financial and business services are less well represented in Lochaber, Skye and Wester Ross. However, HIE is taking every opportunity to recognise and exploit potential developments.
HIE is taking a similar approach with sectors such as forestry which are locally significant.