Background information on the development of the Inverness & Loch Ness Tourism BID -
In 2012 the then chair of Destination Loch Ness (DLN), Freda Newton and Executive Director Graeme Ambrose, were approached by Mike Smith, Manager of Inverness City Centre BID to determine whether DLN would be interested in taking forward a Tourism BID for Inverness and Loch Ness. The idea had immediate appeal to DLN for two fundamental reasons. First, because they recognised that Loch Ness and Inverness were interdependent for tourism success and would benefit from collaborating more as one destination. Secondly, because it was increasingly clear to the Board of DLN that the destination management organisation economic model was flawed in that it relied on voluntary contributions from the private sector which was unsustainable in the long term.
As a result, it was agreed that DLN would take the lead on the development of the Tourism BID with the understanding that if it were successful, DLN would cease trading and be replaced by the new Tourism BID organisation.
The first step in the process was to bring together like minded tourism operators from Inverness, Loch Ness and surrounding area to form a Steering Group that would drive the development of the BID. From initially just six individuals the group has increased in size to twelve over the intervening two years.
The Steering Group then set about understanding all that had to be undertaken in order to achieve BID status. In this respect, the advice from BIDs-Scotland was invaluable and by October 2012 the Steering Group felt ready to embark on the legislative process that would eventually result in success at the ballot on March 14th 2014.
In October 2012 Sharon Mackay was appointed to prepare an initial document for key stakeholders outlining what a BID is and why it would be beneficial for tourism. Positive feedback from this then lead to the appointment by the Steering Group of a Project Team in February 2013, with Graeme Ambrose as Project Manager (while still also Executive Director of DLN), working full time and Sharon Mackay as Project Administrator and Aisla Cullen as Marketing & Communications Manager, both part time.
Over the next year the Project Team with support from the Steering Group undertook and met all the necessary legislative requirements of becoming a BID (contained in the Planning (Scotland) Act 2006, and Planning Regulations 2007, 2008) including extensive consultation with businesses that would become levy payers. This ensured that as the ballot date approached in March, the Steering Group and Project Team were confident of success.
The ballot result was a vindication of all the hard work by everyone that went in to the process. With an electorate of 361 businesses, of the 152 that voted, 123 voted in favour and only 29 against. The Rateable Value figure was equally impressive with £6,203,250 value in favour and £565,750 against.
Following the success, DLN has ceased trading and the assets and liabilities of DLN have also been transferred over to the Tourism BID.
On Friday 14 March 2014 tourism businesses in Inverness, Loch Ness and the surrounding area backed the plans to establish the first Tourism Business Improvement District in the UK.
The results of the ballot are as follows:
Votes cast: 152
Votes in favour: 123
Votes against: 29
Rateable Value of those voted in favour: £6,203,250.00
Rateable Value of those voted against: £565,750.00
Turnout by headcount: 40.82%
Turnout by rateable value: 56.95%
From 30th January to 13th March 2014 each eligible business was asked to cast their vote for the Inverness and Loch Ness Tourism BID in a formal, confidential ballot. Highland Council was responsible for managing the ballot to ensure it was conducted fairly. All eligible voters had one vote or where an eligible voter has more than one business that individual was eligible to cast more than one vote but they are required to pay the levy for each of the properties that they occupy.
A ballot paper (together with a copy of the Business Plan) was sent to each eligible business. The ballot paper should have been signed by the person named on the ballot paper and returned by 5pm on Thursday 13th March 2014.
If a business has more than one rateable property they would have received a ballot paper for each property. Each paper counts as one vote.
It is important that every paper received was completed and returned. Where the property is vacant the ballot paper was sent to the owner of the property as the eligible person entitled to vote. Ballot papers received after 5pm on Thursday 13th March 2014 were deemed invalid and void.
The Inverness and Loch Ness Tourism BID ballot met the following criteria:
A minimum 25% turnout by ‘headcount’ is achievedA minimum 25% turnout by rateable value is achievedOf the votes received, a numerical majority by number of ballots must vote in favourThose voting in favour must represent a majority by rateable value of the rateable properties exercising their vote
The result was announced on Friday 14th March 2014 and following the successful ballot the Tourism BID will commence on 1st April 2014 and will operate for a period of five years until the 31st March 2019. A renewal ballot will be conducted and completed prior to the five year term being up.