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Wildlife Tourism Operators Get Stars in Their Eyes

Wild Scotland member, Islay Birdinghas been named the UK’s first ever five star wildlife experience.

Islay Birding is among 22 nature-based operators who have been given a star award under VisitScotland’s new Wildlife Experience Quality Assurance Scheme.

The scheme was developed following calls from the industry to VisitScotland for an appropriate scheme for wildlife operators. Wild Scotland members pilotted the new scheme which was launched today on Islay.

Islay Birding owner Jeremy Hastings said: “I am thrilled to have received the first five star award under VisitScotland’s new Wildlife Experience Quality Assurance scheme.

“I hope that the new star ratings will encourage more visitors to learn about the birds, plants and animals which help make Scotland such an amazing place to live in and to visit. Wildlife tourism is an important sector for Scotland, it generated around £210 million pounds for the Scottish economy in 2006.

Welcoming the new star rating scheme, Tourism Minister Patricia Ferguson said:  “Scotland’s natural heritage is world famous and attracts many visitors all year round to explore our unique scenery and wildlife. The award of the UK’s first ever five star wildlife experience to Islay Birding illustrates the quality of visitor attractions Scotland has to offer.”

VisitScotland’s Development Quality Advisor, Kim Ross said: “Scotland’s natural environment is second to none and visitors interested in exploring our unique landscapes and wildlife are often spoilt for choice. The new Wildlife Experience Quality Assurance category will help them plan their trip and pinpoint exactly the kind of attraction they are looking for. Wildlife tourism businesses will also benefit by being able to market themselves more effectively and working together we will continue to drive up standards in this sector and make Scotland a must see, must return destination.”

Also involved in the pilot were Scottish Natural Heritage, and the Dolphin Space Programme.

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