MORAY AND SPEYSIDE have never been more prepared for an influx of summer visitors, according to the regional director of VisitScotland.
The opening of Elgin’s new heritage trail, a two-day country fair and an annual whisky festival and the European Pipe Band Championships are just four of the major events taking place this summer.
Added to the myriad of new and old attractions – along with the natural beauty of the region – means that it is a region that has much more to offer than ever before.
Jo Robinson, VisitScotland Regional Director, said she was looking forward to another fantastic year with “much to be excited about”.
“With 2017 being the themed year for History, Heritage and Archaeology, Moray Speyside is poised to take advantage of a busy summer, with some key heritage attractions in Elgin and the surrounding area,” Jo said.
She continued: “Just recently, the Castle to Cathedral to Cashmere tourist trail was officially by HRH Princess Anne bringing to life over 1,000 years of history, including controversial characters such as the Wolf of Badenoch.”
Elgin Museum has also launched a new programme of events and activities, supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Stories, Stones and Bones initiative.
The programme will celebrate some of Moray Speyside’s lesser known archaeological and historic treasures through a series of hands-on activities, training events, exhibitions, talks and walks, culminating in an archaeology conference in November. Running alongside will also be a range of family drop-in craft sessions, where little visitors can try their hand at designing their very own Pictish stone.
Jo continued: “I’m looking forward to taking my family to Piping at Forres for the first time. This year, a new walking app has been introduced to encourage visitors to explore Forres and some of the top sights in the area.
“We are trying to be as active as possible over the summer so any opportunity to get outdoors is welcome – and a visit at the time of the festival will be so exciting for my children.
“Gordon Castle has extended its Highland Games this year into a two-day event on 20 and 21 May, featuring a country fair both days and Highland Games on the Sunday. With a vintage 1900-1940 theme, I’ll be closely following the social media posts to see everyone’s outfits!
“I’m also hoping to attend the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival. I was at last year’s event and it is always so inspiring to see people coming together from all over the world to celebrate and appreciate our water of life!”
Adding that VisitScotland has been working closely with tourism businesses over the last few years, she highlighted digital technology as being much more used with the potential for further expansion.
She said: “The way we market Moray Speyside is also changing. With the huge reach potential of digital and social media, we will be focusing on producing digital content for uploading to major media resources including Facebook, You Tube, Twitter and Instagram.
“This gives us a huge opportunity to build joint resources which can be used by the industry and provides a much greater reach than was ever thought possible by traditional means.”
International travel agents will be able to sample the best of Moray Speyside at VisitScotland Expo on April 26 and 27, led by the destination organisation Moray Speyside Tourism with representatives from businesses and communities from around the region.
Jo said: “I am delighted that Laurie Piper and his team at Moray Speyside Tourism will be leading the largest delegation of businesses from the region that we have ever seen at Expo – I am certain the travel trade will be captivated by the quality and charm of Moray Speyside’s tourism offering.”