Scotland’s Highlands and islands have been named as one of the world’s must visit top regions for 2019.
Travel authority, Lonely Planet, has revealed that the regions have been listed amongst its top 10 ‘Best in Travel’ destinations for 2019 – the only Scottish destination to be included.
The region receives the accolade in the highly anticipated annual collection of the best travel destinations, trends, journeys and experiences to have in the year ahead and which reveals the top 10 regions, countries, cities and best value places to visit.
The Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2019 is a highly-anticipated annual collection of the best travel destinations, trends, journeys and experiences to have in the year ahead and which reveals the top 10 regions, countries, cities and best value places to visit in 2019.
Lonely Planet is a leading travel media company and the world’s number one travel guidebook brand, providing both inspiring and trustworthy information for every kind of traveller since 1973.
The four pages in the guide dedicated to Scotland’s Highlands and Islands, gives special mention to the ‘hugely successful’ North Coast 500 driving route, as well as the North East 250 and the Snow Roads.
Amongst the ‘unmissable experiences’ included in the guide are climbing a mountain, with the iconic peak of Suilven referenced; savouring seafood at one of the Highlands and islands many fine restaurants and joining a nature watching trip to discover the wealth of wildlife that abounds.
Other highlights include the whisky boom, which has seen a swathe of new distilleries open in the region. They offer ‘a great introduction to one of the wildest, least inhabited and most scenic parts of Europe.’
The region’s ‘innovative and fast-developing’ accommodation sector is also highlighted, from purpose-built campervan parking spots to designer cottages modelled on ancient buildings; which make visiting remote areas ‘easier than ever.’
Unmissable experiences in the region recommended by Lonely Planet’s experts include:
Climbing the iconic peak of Suilven following the repair and upgrade of its footpath;
Savouring the region’s sought-after seafood at one of the Highlands and islands’ many fine restaurants such as the Kylesku Hotel or local favourites like Skye’s Oyster Shed or Lewis’s Scallop Shack;
Joining a nature-watching trip to discover the wealth of wildlife, from red deer, golden eagles and otters to whales, dolphins and basking sharks.
The Top 10 Regions in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2019 are: Piedmont, Italy; The Catskills, USA; Northern Peru; The Red Centre, Australia; Scotland’s Highlands and islands; Russian Far East; Gujarat, India; Manitoba, Canada; Normandy, France; and Elqui Valley, Chile.
Tom Hall, Lonely Planet’s editorial director, said: ‘The wild landscapes of Scotland’s Highlands and islands offer the ultimate escape and visiting the region’s remote areas is now easier than ever thanks to impressive developments in accommodation.
‘This is a stunning area with so much to offer travellers, from its glorious natural landscape and rich history to enviable local food and drink.’
The Highlands and islands coming fifth on the list of top regions for 2019 has been welcomed across Scotland.
Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: ‘It’s fantastic to see the Highlands and Islands receive recognition for its breath-taking scenery, history and heritage.
‘From its wide range of distilleries and tourist attractions, to its beautiful islands and iconic landmarks, I am sure the Lonely Planet’s support for the Highlands and Islands will help to inspire and captivate the imaginations of new visitors.”
Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland chief executive, said: ‘I am thrilled, though not entirely surprised, to discover that Scotland’s Highlands and Islands have appeared in this prestigious list.
‘This stunning part of Scotland punches well above its weight on the world stage, as a thriving holiday destination for people from both across the globe and the UK, as well as a popular location for film production companies looking for a beautiful backdrop for their next blockbuster.
‘With accolades like this one to their name, Scotland’s Highlands and Islands will be in the global spotlight once again. However, it is imperative that we don’t become complacent, as we need to continue to provide world-class experiences, events and attractions to keep up with the ever-changing visitor demands.’
The Highland Council’s leader, Margaret Davidson, said: ‘The Scottish Highlands and Islands are a wonderful part of the world. I have always considered it one of the best places to visit not just for our fabulous scenery but also for the range of activities available, our distinct culture and of course the warm welcome for which the Highlands are famous.
‘Being chosen as one of Lonely Planet’s top regions in their forthcoming prestigious global campaign Best in Travel 2019 is a splendid accolade. The fact that this endorsement comes from such a globally-recognised and trusted travel publisher as Lonely Planet will undoubtedly boost the area’s profile on a global stage and encourage more visitors to come and experience a true Highland welcome.’
A Comhairle nan Eilean Siar spokesperson, agreed: ‘Comhairle nan Eilean Siar welcomes this recognition of the Outer Hebrides and the Highlands of Scotland in the top ten global destinations.
‘It is particularly satisfying and well-deserved to see the Hebridean Way – a Comhairle-led EU funded project – featuring so highly. The Outer Hebrides is a must-visit destination and the local industry works hard to ensure an excellent visitor experience – all sectors should rightly be proud to have received this accolade.’