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Friday, 1 March, 2002, 06:50 GMT
Culture city 'would bring jobs boost'
The Highland Festival
The Highland Festival is already well established
Up to 8,600 jobs could be created in the Highlands if Inverness were to win European City of Culture status, it has been claimed.

Scotland's newest city has put together a 300,000 bid to hold the title in 2008.

If the bid is successful, it is thought the Highland capital's new status would attract thousands of jobs and see an increase in visitor spending of up to 233m.

The claims have been made by Steve Westbrook, an independent consultant, whose work has led him to believe that city of culture status would result in up to four million extra visitor bed nights.

This kind of potential prize shows why Inverness and the Highlands should make the effort to secure this European title

Bryan Beattie
Bid co-ordinator

He said: "Using the same assumptions as the latest UK tourism criteria, I have come up with these notional figures as being achievable if everything falls into place.

"We are estimating an increase of up to 25% of visitors on the 2000 level and an increase of 5% on the average length of stay, giving a total rise in bed nights of up to 30%.

"Day trips into the Highlands from other parts of Scotland would be expected to increase by up to 25%.

"Up to half a million additional day trips by Highland people can be anticipated to take in events and facilities."

The research was commissioned by the bid team, invernesshighland2008.

Bid co-ordinator Bryan Beattie said: "The array of events, exhibitions and facilities developed from a successful bid would be the platform for large-scale visitor growth, which is why the Highlands of Scotland Tourist Board and VisitScotland are so strongly behind our campaign.

Guitar player
Music is an important part of Highland life

"This kind of potential prize shows why Inverness and the Highlands should make the effort to secure this European title.

"Tourism is already the most important industry in the Highlands with the equivalent of 22,000 full-time jobs and an annual visitor spend of more than 700m - surely it is well worthwhile trying to achieve major new development in this sector."

The Inverness bid, which is supported by the Scottish Executive, will be submitted at the end of March to the UK Government, which has the right to choose the 2008 European Capital of Culture.

Highland Council convener David Green added: "I am confident we will present a compelling and persuasive case to secure this European accolade."

The Inverness bid is the only Scottish contender and has attracted all the main political parties' support.

See also:

30 Jan 02 | Northern Ireland
Belfast 'favourite' for culture title
25 Sep 01 | Scotland
Inverness seeks to join culture club
09 Jun 01 | Scotland
Support for culture city bid
19 Mar 01 | Scotland
Scotland's newest city slickers
18 Dec 00 | Scotland
Inverness: Scotland's newest city
18 Dec 00 | UK
City winners named
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