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Optimism after talks on ski tourism

14 July 2010

THE tourism boss entrusted with attending a meeting on the future of the Scottish ski industry has said he was encouraged by the discussions.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Scottish Enterprise have commissioned an independent strategic review of the industry following on from the best ski season in three decades.

So much snow fell over the winter – more than seven metres in total – that CairnGorm Mountain was open for midsummer skiing.

In total 145,007 skiers and snowboarders took to the slopes over the past winter, bringing a huge boost to the local economy.

Tourism minister Jim Mather headed up the review meeting last Tuesday to discuss the way forward for Scottish skiing.

The Cairngorms Business Partnership was given the role of representing local business interests at the table.

And afterwards Alan Rankin, chief executive of the CBP, said: “This area has been renowned as a skiing destination for years. But, since ease of access to European destinations has increased, in turn so have customers’ expectations.

“Unfortunately, the current infrastructure does not meet these expectations and this is where joined-up thinking and investment needs to come in.

“We can’t always guarantee the level of snow we had this year, but when we do get snow we need to ensure that everything is in place in order to give customers that first-class experience.

“It is encouraging that a meeting such as this has taken place and we are grateful that the minister has taken time to look at this key issue.”

Mr Rankin said the next step was to gather further views from local businesses to see how the ski industry could be improved and better funded.

He said: “Armed with that, we can then take some specific issues back to HIE, Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Government to help form the scope of the consultants’ work.

“If the national tourism strategy is to grow all-year-round tourism then a strong and viable snowsports sector is an essential element of that ambition.

“Therefore a more strategic and national approach as to how the sector is resourced and developed is a must.”

(Strathspey and Badenoch Herald)

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