Tourist boom leads to £1m sales for sa­fari firm

ABERFELDY: High­land Sa­faris saw a 50% rise in Euro­pean and Asian tourists last year

The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and The Mearns Edition) - - BUSINESS - ROB MCLAREN rm­[email protected]­courier.co.uk

High­land Sa­faris saw its rev­enue pass £1 mil­lion last year, helped by in­creased num­bers of in­ter­na­tional tourists.

The Aberfeldy-based vis­i­tor at­trac­tion of­fers guided tours among stun­ning Perthshire scenery on foot, by 4x4 ve­hi­cle and by bike.

Two years ago Loch Tay Sa­faris was launched af­ter the £150,000 pur­chase of a rigid in­flat­able boat to al­low peo­ple to ex­plore the his­tory and folk­lore of Perthshire’s largest loch.

Di­rec­tor Don­ald Rid­dell, who runs the com­pany with his wife Julie, said: “We had a su­perb sum­mer last year with a 50% in­crease in trade from Euro­pean and Asian mar­kets.

“We’re see­ing the ben­e­fit of in­vest­ment in a num­ber of Euro­pean Devel­op­ment Meet­ings with Visits­cot­land.

“Launch­ing Loch Tay Sa­faris has also helped boost turnover.

“At one point we thought if we got to £500,000 turnover a year, we would be de­lighted and po­ten­tially hang up our boots. So to be at our cur­rent turnover of £1 mil­lion is a huge achieve­ment.”

The busi­ness was started with a sin­gle ex-army Land Rover in 1992, tak­ing vis­i­tors to the top of hills to watch red deer.

Tele­vi­sion shows like BBC’S Spring­watch were a big turn­ing point for the busi­ness, help­ing it grow and ex­pand its sea­sonal “watch” sa­faris.

It now em­ploys 42 peo­ple and runs its own Red Deer Cen­tre, com­plete with shop, café and chil­dren’s trail.

For the year end­ing Oc­to­ber 2018, the com­pany es­ti­mates a turnover of £1.1 mil­lion, with pre-tax prof­its of £170,000. “We’re in no doubt that the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment of High­land Perthshire, in which we op­er­ate, is our big­gest as­set,” Mr Rid­dell added.

“The busi­ness has gone through def­i­nite growth spurts over the years.

“We didn’t re­ally start to for­mu­late a com­pany struc­ture un­til 2013.

“Now we are ex­plor­ing a man­age­ment func­tion within the busi­ness to free up more time.”

Don­ald Rid­dell, left, and his wife Julie, right, on sa­fari with a vis­i­tor.

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