Business Travel Show Europe Kick Off, 23 February,
Global Travel Risk Summit Europe, April 2023,
3rd Annual Sustainable Business Travel Summit
Inverness continues to expand. Only officially a city since 2001, but long thought of as the capital of the Highlands, new air links and a booming economy is triggering unprecedented growth. Even the local football team, Inverness Caledonians, has aspirations of grandeur, sitting second in the Bells Scottish First Division. Mind you it will have to do something about its very modern stadium, only built on one side. It”s a bit like Rushden and Diamonds getting into the Premier League. The airport is very modern too.
In the past this was where the Scots of the Highlands and Lowlands came together to do battle. Not so today. The war is a commercial one. They are both on the same side. Get the tourists in.
Inverness is 150 miles north of Edinburgh along dual carriageways and one track efforts well patrolled by police and speed cameras. There is also a railway service, of local standard more than intercity. British Airways, and its predecessors, have flown from London since the dawn of proper airlines, now three times daily operating out of Gatwick rather than preferred Heathrow. easyJet has a daily service from Luton, which could go twice daily next summer, although a Ryanair operation from Stansted is also rumoured. BA/Loganair has services to both Edinburgh and Glasgow, on ubiquitous Shorts 360s, whilst northbound both BA and Highland Airways offer flights to the Western Isles. After a very short lived attempt by Scot Airways to London City, Eastern Airways has come in with a three times daily Jetstream 31 service to Manchester which, if early results are to be sustained, could be a real breakthrough for the city (see Eastern Airways above and our photo left - not a typical customer). Inverness is certainly not cut off from the rest of Great Britain.
If you care to look at a map the actual position of Inverness is misleading. It seems to be on the coast, indeed the Moray Firth leads out into the North Sea. Fort William, 65 miles along Loch Ness, the Great Glenn, lies south west. However for all practical purpose Inverness is the true centre of the Highlands, huge tracts of unspoilt land with some of the finest scenery in the whole of the British Isles. Just to put it in true perspective, John O”Groats is 120 miles to the north, at least three hours drive, and Kyle of Lochalsh, for the new Isle of Sky bridge, 75 miles, or two hours away. The advent of cheap air fares means that two or three day breaks in the Highlands are practical, even in the winter, basing oneself in Inverness and choosing destinations for the day with care. Not everything is open November around to the end of March. In Inverness the shopping is excellent (pedestrianised), the food selection wide and varied, and there is a fine selection of hotels ranging from an excellent Marriott, the historic Culloden by the last battlefield site in the UK, the four star Newton at Nairn, and Holiday Inn Express/Travel Lodge basic accommodation. Together with a wonderful selection of guest houses and lodgings you are truly spoilt for choice. And if you are into golf you are in heaven.
Where to go and what to do. A lot depends on the weather and the daylight hours are not too long in the depth of winter. If you are in search of monsters the museum of that name is on the main road to Fort William, 15 miles out of town along Loch Ness. In fact the monster search seems to have really been a 20th century phenomena dating from the 1930s. It has all been taken very seriously and the scientific studies are there for all to see. The museum shop has a splendid selection of Scottish goods and with a bit of luck you will pass through the Scotch centre when some solemn tasting is taking place. You are free to join in. Just down the road is Urquhart Castle, long since abandoned as a stronghold but a living tribute to the tough clansman of 500 years ago who built this massive fortress by the waters of the Loch. The brand new Visitors Centre shows just what can be done with a little thought. Go and see the eight minute film showing the history of Urquhart. You will be very surprised with the ending sequence.
Aviemore and the Carngorms are but 40 minutes south of Inverness Airport. Of course it is dependent on the weather but here is Britain”s finest winter sports area. You can try curling. It”s not as easy as you think. The Cairngorm Mountain Railway is new and used by skiers in the snow months and walkers and tourists the rest of the year. If you are into wild life there is a reindeer park and a sled dog adventure centre. It would not be Scotland without a distillery but for those who have tastes other than the ”wee dram” the Cairngorm brewery offers quality beers using the purist of Highland waters. It is certainly a different taste to what you get down south.