The North Coast 500’s creation has been named as one of the greatest moments for Scottish tourism in the last 50 years.
The iconic touring route, which brings thousands of visitors to the North Highlands of Scotland every year took one of the top positions, both nationally and regionally in a public poll created by VisitScotland to mark its 50th anniversary.
Members of the public in the Highlands and Islands voted the 2015 launch of the North Coast 500 in second place overall, with Rough Guide’s naming of Scotland as the most beautiful country in the world in 2017 in first place.
The North Coast 500 also emerged in eighth place overall in the national poll, with the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games taking the top spot in the poll overall.
The VisitScotland survey, carried out by Scotpulse, focused on moments with a national impact for Scotland which contributed to tourism becoming one of the country’s most important industries.
Tom Campbell, managing director of the North Coast 500, said: “Tourism is one of Scotland’s most thriving and vital industries, and here at the North Coast 500 we are proud to see the North Highlands playing such a significant role in boosting Scottish tourism in recent years.
“I’d also like to congratulate VisitScotland on reaching a very special milestone in growing and developing Scottish tourism.”
Over the past four years, the North Coast 500 has been hailed as the number one road trip in the world, and one of the top reasons for people to travel to Scotland.
The route has been credited with boosting business by 20-25% each year, extending the season to 10 months, and increasing visitor spend by an additional £10million in 2016-2017 alone.
Chris Taylor, regional leadership director at VisitScotland, said: “Over the last 50 years there have been so many big moments for Scotland’s tourism industry that it is difficult to choose just one, but the public has spoken.
“In the Highlands and Islands, the top choice was Rough Guide naming Scotland as the most beautiful country in the world, followed by the launch of the North Coast 500. The travel bible’s accolade was a great achievement and provided priceless exposure for Scotland.
“The NC500 has been a huge success for Scotland’s visitor economy, generating millions of pounds in additional spend to surrounding areas, showing off the country’s amazing landscapes and attractions, and supporting jobs in rural communities, demonstrating that tourism really is the lifeblood of our economy.
“All of these moments and more have helped Scotland to become a tourism giant over five decades and while this is VisitScotland’s own milestone, it’s very much an anniversary to be shared with our industry colleagues and partners.
“Today’s success owes much to the vision of pioneers within this resilient and resourceful industry and our 50th allows us to look fondly at the past while, importantly, fixing our gaze toward the future – here’s to 50 more.”
For more information about the North Coast 500, click here.