Business seminar on cashing in on the Loch Ness Monster

Loch Ness Monster illustration For centuries, people have claimed to have seen the Loch Ness Monster

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Businesses in the Highlands have been offered free advice on how they can cash in on the Loch Ness Monster myth.

A free seminar, called Monster Marketing, will be hosted by the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) and tourism body VisitScotland.

One of the speakers will talk about how he was asked by US actor Charlie Sheen for help in finding Nessie.

The event in Inverness will be held during the quietest period in the history of claimed monster sightings.

Last week, there were claims the legendary beast had been spotted in an Apple Maps satellite image.

But sceptics have said that the image was created by the wake of the Loch Ness tourist boat, Jacobite Queen.

The seminar will be held in Inverness on 16 May.

Willie Cameron, director of Loch Ness Marketing and a former Highlands and Islands Tourism Ambassador of the Year, will talk about Nessie's impact on the local area.

He will also tell how Sheen, star of the film Platoon and TV series Two and a Half Men, called him last summer while Nessie spotting.

Charlie Sheen Actor Charlie Sheen visited Loch Ness in search of the monster last summer

Also speaking at the seminar will be Graeme Ambrose of the Inverness and Loch Ness Tourism Business Improvement District.

He will talk about how there is more to Loch Ness and the surrounding area than just the monster myth.

UHI's Gary Campbell, who will host the event, said: "We are looking forward to hosting what promises to be a fascinating business seminar.

"We will be exploring the theme that Loch Ness and the surrounding area mean more than just a monster.

"We will discuss that, while the Loch Ness Monster might be seen as the main attraction for visiting the area, it is important to help tourists see what else is on offer."

Marion Walker, of VisitScotland, added: "We are delighted to be hosting this discussion in partnership with the university as part of our national programme of industry engagement.

"This discussion should give the audience a great opportunity to hear about the future plans for the destination's development."

Ghost lights

For the first time in almost 90 years no "confirmed sightings" have been made of the Loch Ness Monster, veteran Nessie spotter Mr Campbell said in February this year.

He said no-one had come forward in 18 months to say they had seen the monster.

Inverness-based Mr Campbell said it was the first time since 1925 that there had been no confirmed reports of the monster.

He has been logging Nessie sightings for 17 years after seeing something in the loch himself.

As Nessie's registrar of sightings, he has put together a list of sightings going back 1,500 years.

Irish missionary St Columba is said to have encountered a beast in the River Ness in 565AD.

Last year, Loch Ness Monster was placed ahead of the Himalaya's Yeti in a list of "top 18 mysteries" for travellers to solve in 2014.

Wanderlust Magazine put Nessie at number three and the Yeti at 12.

Easter Island's carved monoliths, the moai, were in first place followed by Mongolia's Gobi rock art.

Also listed are the Pyramids of Giza, the USA's Marfa ghost lights, Angkor Wat in Cambodia and finding Australia's Tasmanian tiger.

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