Page last updated at 10:53 GMT, Thursday, 27 November 2008

Wildlife shows boosting tourism

Bill Oddie and Kate Humble on Springwatch.
Springwatch hosts Bill Oddie and Kate Humble

Wildlife tourism is reporting healthy business in the face of the economic downturn and warnings of a deep recession.

Nature shows such as the BBC's Springwatch have played a part in raising interest in the outdoors, according to Wild Scotland.

Caroline Warburton, of the Inverness-based organisation, said most of its members have had a good year.

The issue was due to be discussed at its annual conference in Perth.

A total of 82 businesses have joined Wild Scotland, which was set up in 2004 to promote the industry and ensure good practice.

The group's members had a total turnover of £9.3m in 2008.

Best place

Ms Warburton said: "86% of our members have had either as good a year, or a better year than last year.

"There is definitely a growing interest in the environment and I think programmes like Springwatch and Autumnwatch have had quite a big effect and people are generally more interested in getting out there and seeing wildlife."

Last year, the Highlands was found to be the best place in Scotland to enjoy nature according to BBC Wildlife Magazine.

Aberdeenshire, Shetland, Moray and Midlothian also did well in research carried out by features editor Fergus Collins and his team.

They based their findings on the numbers of protected areas, nature reserves and levels of pollution.

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