Scotland's Wild(life) Heart could boost economy

Press release   •   May 23, 2016 11:08 BST

Elegant ospreys and radiant roe deer will play their part in attracting more visitors to discover Scotland’s wildlife, thanks to new BBC Scotland TV series Highlands: Scotland’s Wild Heart.

Narrated by Scottish film star Ewan McGregor, the four-part series shows the Highlands and its abundance of stunning wildlife through the seasons, as well as looking at the people who live and work alongside it.

The new series is produced by Maramedia, the company behind the acclaimed Hebrides - Islands On The Edge, also narrated by McGregor.

The first episode, which aired on 11 May, focused on Spring in the region – surprisingly the most extreme time of year, with temperatures regularly ranging from minus 10 to 20 degrees.

Viewers saw ospreys, red squirrels, dippers, capercaillies, roe deer and bottlenose dolphins all struggling to find food and raise their young while coping with these unpredictable conditions.

Last week’s episode featured seabirds on Handa Island, off the Sutherland coast, the Flow Country and its peat pools as well as otters near Mull and pine martens in Perthshire, while episode three – which will be broadcast on BBC1 this Wednesday (25 May) will focus on Autumn and Winter and features leaping salmon, reindeer, mountain hares and some shocking ‘never before filmed’ sequences featuring cannibal grey seals.

According to The Economic Impact of Wildlife Tourism in Scotland, there are more than a million wildlife trips a year to or within Scotland. Although a significant figure, it only refers to people who are visiting for the primary purpose of viewing wildlife. In reality, the scope of wildlife tourism is infinitely larger.

UK wildlife visits represent 5.2 per cent of all trips to Scotland, but account for 7.4 cent of total visitor spend. That means that wildlife visitors spend more than the average visitor, so they are an attractive target for tourism businesses.

Wildlife and nature tourism is a huge draw for visitors to Scotland, both domestically and internationally, with VisitScotland’s Scotland Visitor Survey 2011 highlighting that 58 per cent of visitors to Scotland cite the country’s scenery and landscapes as their top reason for choosing Scotland as a holiday destination.

All these visits by wildlife watchers, nature lovers and associated visitors also boost the Highland visitor economy, as they book into local accommodation, dine out in local restaurants and cafes and spend their money within regional shops and services.

No matter where a business is based in Scotland, there are opportunities to use wildlife as a promotional tool. Most rural tourism businesses have wildlife activity operators in their area, as well as endless opportunities for visitors to enjoy the wildlife around them in a less formal way.

One of the best ways to see creatures in their natural habitat is to head out with qualified experts on a wildlife tour. In the Highlands, there is the opportunity to take a coastal boat trip, head off-road in a 4x4 on a wildlife safari, or make a break of it on a wildlife holiday.

Scott Armstrong, VisitScotland Regional Director for the Highlands, said: “This fantastic BBC series will undoubtedly capture people’s interest, as the array of beautiful Highland wildlife documented is what helps us to sell this part of Scotland to the world.

“The great knock-on effect for us is the interest this generates among visitors wanting to come here to see and experience the wildlife for themselves. In turn, this benefits the local visitor economy, with visitors staying in local accommodation and eating, drinking, shopping and using local services while they are here.

“The visitor economy causes a ripple effect that touches very industry, business and community in the country – from laundry services to life sciences.”

Nigel Pope, Creative Director at Maramedia, said: “We’re delighted that the series has proved to be so popular in Scotland. The Highlands are truly the jewel in the crown of British wildlife and more visitors can only be a good thing. Hopefully more people will also be inspired to look after our wonderful wildlife – it’s truly one of Scotland’s greatest assets.”

Episode three of Highlands – Scotland’s Wild Heart will be broadcast  on BBC1 Scotland on Wednesday 25 May at 9pm. The first two episodes are available to watch on BBC Iplayer.

Notes to Editors

  • Follow us on twitter: @visitscotnews
  • VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
  • The organisation’s core objective is to contribute to the Tourism 2020 Strategy ambition of growing tourism revenues by £1 billion by 2020.
  • This will be supported by seven overarching strategies:
    1. Marketing: we will market Scotland and its outstanding assets to visitors from all parts of the world, including the promotion of Scotland to people living in Scotland       to visit different parts of the country
    2. Events: we will support the national events strategy and its delivery, and sustain, develop and promote Scotland’s international profile as one of the world’s foremost events destinations
    3. Internationalisation and International Engagement: we will utilise all our platforms to enable Scottish-based tourism businesses to better understand international       opportunities and market to a global audience and we will work within One       Scotland Partnerships to optimise the potential of Scotland’s Diaspora and our strategic partners at regional, European and global levels
    4. Customer Experience: we will provide information and inspiration to visitors both locally and globally via their preferred medium of choice
    5. Quality and Sustainability: we will provide support and advice to businesses, with the goal of improving the quality and sustainability of the tourism sector in Scotland. We will provide quality assurance to visitors through our Quality Schemes
    6. Inclusive Tourism: we will strive to make tourism in Scotland inclusive and available to all
    7. Working in Partnership: we will listen to and work with the industry, partners and communities to shape our offering and support
  • VisitScotland works together with tourism businesses to make tourism a success for everyone and ensure the industry continues to grow.
  • The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
  • Spending by tourists in Scotland generates around £12 billion of economic activity in the wider Scottish supply chain and contributes around £6 billion to Scottish GDP (in basic prices). This represents about 5% of total Scottish GDP.
  • The Scottish Government is the Managing Authority for the European Structural Funds 2014-20 Programme. For further information visit or follow @scotgovESIF
  • For VisitScotland’s press releases go to, tourism statistics and frequently asked questions go to
  • Where possible, a Gaelic speaker will be made available for broadcast interviews on request (Far an tèid iarraidh, agus far am bheil sin nar comas, bruidhinnidh neach le Gàidhlig aig agallamh)
  • For holiday information on Scotland go to
  • For information about business events in Scotland go to

    Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016

  • 2016 will shine a spotlight on Scotland’s achievements in innovation, architecture and design through a wide-ranging, variety of new and existing activity.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design begins on 1 January 2016 and ends on 31 December 2016 and will build on the momentum generated by the 2015 Year of Food and Drink as well as previous years including Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
  • Through a series of exciting events and activity, the year will showcase Scotland’s position as an “innovation nation”, its outstanding built heritage, and its thriving, internationally acclaimed creative industries sector.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Scottish Government, Creative Scotland, Architecture + Design Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS).
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
  • Join the conversation at #IAD2016
  • Events can join the 2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design Partner Programme throughout the year by visiting