The appeal of our region as a world-class visitor destination presents a major opportunity for our businesses and communities to grow and flourish.


Keep up to date with the latest national information for the tourism sector and get in touch with your local Destination Organisations to connect with tourism businesses in your area, share ideas and support each other through these difficult times.

Tourism in the Highlands and Islands

Tourism in the Highlands and Islands is a key driver of successful, productive and resilient businesses and strong, capable and resourceful communities. A sustainable tourism industry forms the basis of a thriving place, not only offering quality experiences for our visitors but for those who choose to live, work and study in our region.

The significance of tourism in the Highlands and Islands is greater than the rest of Scotland, representing up to 43% of employment in areas such as the Cairngorms National Park compared with 8% in Scotland overall. Tourism sustains some of our most remote and rural populations, providing essential employment opportunities and attracting investment.

Our region welcomed over 2.7m overnight visitors in 2018 and 14.6m day visitors from domestic markets. Recent figures indicate a continued rise in visitor volume, with domestic overnight figures up almost 8% in the early part of 2019. We recognise the need for continued investment in the tourism industry and infrastructure to ensure sustainable and managed growth. Our region’s reputation as a high-quality and exemplary destination must be protected and enhanced, as we keep pace with an increasingly competitive global tourism market.

As digital technology and the use of data evolves, we will work with the industry to innovate and integrate new ways of working to better understand, predict and exceed visitor expectations.

Our region’s businesses, communities and stakeholders will work together in collaboration around themes including marine and outdoor tourism to responsibly develop successful and sustainable tourism destinations, creating new products and offerings through investment in skills, infrastructure and partnerships.

Tourism stats


of our tourism projects support social enterprises or communities


of support programmes and training for tourism being delivered by HIE


invested in 260 tourism projects in the last three years


generated by tourism in Highland of the total tourism GVA for Scotland

Year of Coasts and Waters 2020

In 2020, Scotland’s Coasts and Waters will be celebrated with a programme of activity designed to inspire both visitors and locals to explore and experience our unrivalled shores. Find out how you can maximise the opportunities this year presents.

Year of Coasts and Waters 2020

Tune Into Tourism

Our presenters Julia Sutherland and Richard Melvin will be bringing the latest trends, industry insights and expertise directly to you, wherever you are and however you choose to tune in.

Find out more and register

Digital Tourism

New technology and innovations are increasingly defining how consumers search and book holidays, and how tourism businesses market their products and services to those customers. There has been no greater change to the travel and tourism industry than the technological revolution that is continuing to take place. And, it is these continuous changes and different ways of doing business that can present new opportunities for tourism businesses and destinations across the Highlands and Islands.

By using more digital tools effectively, your business has an opportunity to strengthen connections with potential and existing visitors but also achieve efficiencies and greater productivity. Visit the Digital Tourism Scotland website to access a range of on-line resources to make digital work for you. The site also signposts to other initiatives such as Digital Boost including their workshops and 1-1 support.

Find out more on the Digital Tourism Scotland website

Marine Tourism

With 2020 announced as the Year of Coast and Waters we will have a strong focus on marine tourism in the coming months.

Marine Tourism


Our language heritage is a crucial part of Scotland’s culture and presents tourism businesses with many opportunities to give visitors a more authentic experience. Depending on where your business is, that will be Gaelic, Scots or even a Scot’s dialect such as Doric or Shetland. This provides a fantastic resource and tool to inspire people to engage, search, participate and stay.

Find out more about SpeakScotland

Gaelic Tourism Strategy

The Gaelic Tourism Strategy for Scotland was launched in October 2018 and highlighted that the Gaelic language and its associated culture represents a compelling opportunity for the Scottish Tourism industry as a unique selling point and authentic part of the experience of visiting Scotland.

Gaelic Tourism Strategy

Collaborating With Partners

We work in partnership with the Scottish Government, public sector agencies, local authorities, industry, communities and more. By working together, we can better support sustainable growth of the tourism sector.


Find out more about Scotland’s national tourist organisation including the latest visitor research and insights, marketing campaigns and tools for business.

Explore the VisitScotland industry website

Scottish Tourism Alliance

The Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) is the industry membership body for Scotland’s tourism industry and leading representative of the issues and challenges facing the industry.

Connect with the Scottish Tourism Alliance