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Published on : Tuesday, May 24, 2016
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 4×4 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.