VisitScotland: Dolphin Spirit proves it has #ScotSpirit

Published on : Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Dolphin SpiritA boat operator which takes visitors on trips to glimpse bottlenose dolphins in the Moray Firth, has achieved the highest accolade from the national tourism organisation at its first grading visit.


Inverness-based Dolphin Spirit attained its Five Star Wildlife Experience grading following its first ever visit by a VisitScotland Quality Tourism Advisor. This followed hot on the heels of a Best Business award presented to the fledgling business by the Highland Business Women’s Club recently.


The boat, which can carry up to 65 passengers at a time over two decks and three areas, is fast becoming a popular asset to the area. It enables visitors to find out more about the bottlenose dolphin population in the Inner Moray Firth and plan their trip to see these fascinating animals.


Bottlenose dolphins can be found in various locations around the Moray Firth and are particularly active between the Beauly Firth to the west and Chanonry Point to the east. Dolphin Spirit, which runs four trips daily, was recently used by a party of tourism buyers from the Far East as they toured Scotland following the annual VisitScotland expo travel trade show in Edinburgh.


Yvette Hogan, Dolphin Spirit Director, said:

“It’s fantastic to be recognised with awards like these. The five stars from VisitScotland is a reflection of the brilliant effort everyone on the team puts into every sailing, every day.


“This is very much a ‘people business’. We recognise that we’re as much a part of the tourist experience as the dolphins and other wildlife our visitors can enjoy.”


Earlier this year, VisitScotland launched its biggest ever global campaign and social movement – Spirit of Scotland. The campaign is built on extensive research that shows that people think Scotland has a unique spirit – whether it’s the magic of the landscapes or the warmth of the people.


Scott Armstrong, VisitScotland Regional Partnerships Director, said:

“The Highlands have their own ScotSpirit, with breathtaking landscapes and an array of fun experiences to be enjoyed both on land or on the water. Dolphin Spirit has demonstrated its own #ScotSpirit, proven by the fact that they have been awarded Five Stars at their first ever grading visit. They are not only giving visitors a fantastic Highland welcome but also ensuring they have an unforgettable experience.


“I would like to congratulate Yvette and her team for setting the bar so high – a shining example to other local tourism businesses. Quality Assurance is much more than just stars on a plaque onboard the boat – it is about the entire visitor experience, investing in your business and making it as economically sustainable and profitable as it can possibly be.”


Access to the boat has been made as easy as possible, with no steps to climb. Visitors can walk to the boat along the gently inclined ramp access used for the marina itself. Once at the boat, it is a simple step from the jetty onto the deck, all at the same level – with no gangplanks – regardless of the tide or weather conditions. There is also ramp access in the boat for pram and wheelchair use.


The boat’s cabin is warm, clean and comfortable and the views of the sea clear for all and dolphins can often be viewed right outside the marina entrance.


Developed and improved over the past 25 years, VisitScotland’s Quality Assurance (QA) schemes are world-leading and provide a trusted, independent and impartial source of information for visitors. They allow businesses not just to meet visitor expectations, but exceed them.


QA can open the door to new customers. It is a powerful marketing tool and works well with online review sites in using an independent perspective to measure visitor experience against tried and tested criteria, so visitors know exactly what to expect.


After a successful first season in 2015, the Dolphin Spirit returned to sail the waters of the Inner Moray Firth at Easter and will continue until the end of October.

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