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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 February 2008, 12:13 GMT
Bid to revitalise John O'Groats
John O'Groats sign. (Pic: Mike Roper)
Blueprints for the revitalisation of John O'Groats go back 20 years
A masterplan is to be drawn up to lead efforts to breathe new life into John O'Groats and attract more tourists.

Caithness Regeneration Partnership will host a public meeting to gather residents' views on how to revitalise the "end-of-the-road" destination.

One of the options being examined is the redevelopment of the John O'Groats House Hotel.

The 2005 edition of the backpacker's bible, Lonely Planet, described the area as a "seedy tourist trap".

Roy Kirk, inward investment manager with the Caithness Regeneration Partnership, is keen to get ideas from the community at Saturday's meeting in the Seaview Hotel.

He said: "There are real opportunities to capitalise on the international brand that John O'Groats is and to make it better than it is."

Mr Kirk has also had several meetings with Heritage GB, the company which owns the John O'Groats House Hotel and adjoining land.

John Green, of the area's promotions group, has previously said that the property is gradually deteriorating.

John O'Groats is the best-known destination in Caithness and if it prospers, the whole of the county benefits
John Green
John O'Groats Promotional Group

He said there had been discussions locally about a buy-out similar to those used to take control of large estates.

Heritage GB also runs attractions 874 miles away at Land's End.

It has been reported that visitors spend on average just 10 minutes at John O'Groats, but would stay longer if there was more to see and do.

Ahead of Saturday's meeting, Mr Green said: "I think this gives John O'Groats the chance to move ahead.

"It's something that is badly needed and which can give a shot-in-the-arm to tourism throughout Caithness.

"John O'Groats is the best-known destination in Caithness and if it prospers, the whole of the county benefits."

Mr Green, who also chairs Dunnet and Canisbay Community Council, said the failure of a succession of blueprints over the past 20 years had been deeply disappointing.

He said: "It's a real priority to have the end-of-the-road site revitalised."

SEE ALSO
Buy-out of landmark hotel mooted
27 Nov 07 |  Highlands and Islands
The lands in communities' hands
13 Jun 07 |  Highlands and Islands
Northern outpost dubbed 'seedy'
23 May 05 |  Scotland

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