Inverness is the UK’s most northerly city and established ‘capital’ of the Highlands. Inverness is a dynamic, fast-growing city with an abundance of natural assets, amenities, and an outstanding location. The population of Inverness increased by almost 20% between 2001 and 2011, and was recently ranked fifth out of all British cities for its quality of life – the highest of any Scottish city.
The Highlands & Islands has a population of almost 500,000 with over 150,000 located in the Inner Moray Firth area and approx. 75,000 based in and around Inverness city. Inverness has a “travel to work” population of over 200,000 with average salaries and average house prices lower than much of Scotland and the UK. The Inverness area is an exciting growing economy with a number of booming industries, most notably Tourism, Food & Drink, Energy and the Life Sciences.
The vision behind the £315m Inverness & Highland City-Region Deal is to position Inverness and the Highlands as a region of digital opportunity. This vision was turned into reality in March 2016 with the signing of the heads of terms agreement between the UK Government, Scottish Governmnent and The Highland Council. This set out the broad areas where Government will commit investment of up to £188m which together with £127m of further investment by the Council and public partners will deliver a step change in digital connectivity, digital healthcare, skills, innovation and infrastructure. For more detailed information on Inverness and the wider Highland region please visit the Enterprising Highland website managed by The Highland Council.
The Scottish Government has described Inverness Campus as one of the most important developments in Scotland. The ambitious £100m development is set to become a nationally and internationally significant location for education and research, delivering a high quality environment for learning, innovation, collaboration and commerce. The Campus, which is now also home to the University of Highlands & Islands, will attract leading academics, professionals and students to the city and surrounding area, and is expected to generate up to 6,000 jobs over the next 30 years.
The Highlands and Islands is a region of economic growth and opportunity. People and their skills are at the heart of the region’s recent success and will be central to the region’s ability to capitalise on growth opportunities and the associated economic and community benefits. Skills Development Scotland, Highlands & Islands Enterprise and the Scottish Funding Council have worked in partnership to develop a Skills Investment Plan (2014) which considers skills, education, training and outlines a key framework for employers across the region. In addition to the public sector, major private sector employers in the area include LifeScan Scotland (part of Johnson & Johnson), Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE), Global Energy Group (including Nigg Energy Park), Orion Group and Capgemini.
In the Highlands & Islands, tourism generates around £735m and employs 20,000 people across 3,000 businesses. In 2016, the average occupancy for Inverness hotels was 84% (up from 80% in 2015) with the top overseas visitor markets being the US, Germany and France.
The city is also a gateway to many of Scotland’s major tourism destinations including Culloden Battlefield, Cairngorms National Park and Urquhart Castle, located on the shores of nearby Loch Ness. The Visit Inverness and Loch Ness website provides a comprehensive guide to this beautiful part of Scotland and an insight into the rich history and culture of the area. For golfers, Castle Stuart Golf Links has rapidly established itself as one of the World’s finest golf courses, having hosted the Scottish Open championship four times (in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2016) and in June 2016 plans were approved for the development of a new 18-hole Arnold Palmer Tribute course. There are a number of excellent golf courses in the surrounding area including another 3 championship venues in The Nairn Golf Club, Royal Dornoch and Spey Valley. The Highlands also has two professional football teams in the Scottish Premier and Scottish Football Leagues, a range of major fashion retailers such as M&S, Next, H&M, Debenhams and Eden Court Theatre, one of the largest multi-purpose arts venues in Scotland.