Inverness is preparing for an influx of thousands of visitors this weekend with a number of high profile events taking place in the city.
Hotel bookings are looking positive and cafes, restaurants and bars are ready to cater to everyone’s needs.
The proceedings will begin tomorrow when Italian operatic tenor Andrea Bocelli takes the stage at Caledonian Stadium.
He will be followed on Saturday night by Duran Duran at the same venue while across town Skipinnish play in a marquee at Bught Park – earlier today visitors are expected to pack Eden Court for the National Whiskey Festival.
And to top it all off, the Scottish favorites from Texas will entertain the Bught Park crowd on Sunday.
Tony Story, the managing director of Patio Hotels, which owns Kingsmills and Ness Bank hotels in the town, said they were nearly full this weekend.
He added: “We are running between 96 and 97% for this month.”
He felt attracting such high-profile events was good for Inverness, but said it was a shame they weren’t placed “outside the height of the tourist season”.
However, he added: “When you get names like Andrea Bocelli, you have to follow what they say they will do.”
He believes anything that puts Inverness and the Highlands on the map is good.
“Having someone like Andrea Bocelli come to Inverness is a very good thing for the city,” he added.
Mr Story said his two hotels had pre-concert events booked for a total of 300 people, adding: ‘It’s an extra expense, that’s for sure.’
Norman MacDonald, who runs Café 1 in Castle Street, also expected to be busy this weekend.
“We’re open and it’s full,” he said. “It’s looking good. It’s been a good time and the visitors are back.
He said what helped this year was the weather, adding: “The real change is that we had events and we had great weather with them – the Jubilee weekend couldn’t have been better. and hopefully he will be good this weekend.”
He said concert-goers would normally have no reason to visit Inverness and the events were positive for the area.
“Andrea Botchelli and Duran Duran might be the reason they come but we will give them a reason to come back,” he added.
Inverness economist Tony Mackay also felt the events were certainly good news for the local tourism industry and the local economy.
He added: “I walked past the European Pipe Band Championships at Bught Park last Saturday and there were a large number of visitors and participants there. The publicity given to such events should contribute to increasing future attendance.
“I speak regularly with local hoteliers and restaurateurs, and it is clear that for them business has not yet returned to normal. In particular, the number of foreign visitors is still much lower than it was before the pandemic.
“Successful events such as the Whiskey Festival and the Pipe Band Championships are expected to lead to increased visitor numbers in 2023.”
A spokesperson for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said: “After a tough few years, it’s great to see local businesses predicting a busy weekend.
“Inverness has so much to offer visitors, and I’m sure people who come to town for an event will come back again and again.
“We urge tourists to use local, independent businesses wherever possible, not only to maximize the economic impact of their stay, but also so that they can get a real taste of what Inverness and the surrounding area has to offer. .”
• If you’re going to an event this weekend, let us know about your experience. Send your thoughts and photos to [email protected] and they could appear online or in print.