Diversification at Loch Ness

Loch Ness Shores

From 1896 to 1967 the village of Foyers, on the south side of Loch Ness, was predominately known as an industrial village, despite its magnificent scenery. The British Aluminium Company employed up to 500 people in their smelter, working around the clock, to produce one third of the world's aluminium.

Throughout this era, generations of the Forbes family were tenant farmers, living in a very vibrant community, but ultimately watching the village's decline. Donald Forbes, who is the third generation to have lived in Foyers all his life, felt powerless to do anything.

However, in 1994, having declined to give up his tenancy, he and his wife Lyn got the chance to purchase part of the farm. By then the number of children in the village school had dramatically declined to less than ten, many amenities established by the British Aluminium Company including the Club and other hostels were closed and there was also talk of the village shop closing. With a growing awareness that tourism provided the best opportunity for sustainable growth in an area of outstanding beauty, which includes the Falls of Foyers. Donald and Lyn decided to diversify; their two objectives were (1) their business must be sustainable, and (2) support existing/new businesses and the community.

Loch Ness Shores, now an award-winning Camping and Caravanning site, opened in July 2013 on farm land adjacent to Loch Ness. Despite a lengthy development lead time and substantial investment, Donald and Lyn persevered with their vision to bring prosperity back to the village. The campsite in Foyers is one of the few in the Highlands open all year in keeping with their support for the local economy.

Not only does the campsite provide all-year round work for seven permanent staff (four of which are full-time on annualized hours) who live locally, plus Donald and Lyn themselves, it also provides a further six jobs (three full time) during the summer. These are mostly taken up by locals who are at school or university who want to work during their holidays.

Year on year, funded through operational cash flow, the campsite and Wigwam Cabins have been continually enhanced and augmented. Outdoor activities, a shop and diner (both selling predominately Scottish food) have also been introduced to diversify the business. In addition, existing team members have been trained to deliver archery, bush craft, wildlife walks, river dipping and boat and kayak hire. They have completed World Host training delivering a five-star experience. These activities and service are made available to anyone living or visiting the area, not just the campsite guests.

Fiona Cairns, Secretary, South Loch Ness Tourist Group, said: “Loch Ness Shores has been very beneficial in increasing tourism on south Loch Ness. The year-round visitors provide customers to the local shops, cafes and restaurants, and it is likely that some of the B&B and Hotel guests come here following recommendation from those who have stayed at Loch Ness Shores and enjoyed the area.”