Perthshire company Highland Fling Bungee has smashed its customer targets with four months to spare, officially establishing Scotland as a new haven for bungee jumping.
Figures just released by Scotland's first operator of the extreme activity have revealed that annual jump targets have been broken within the first seven months of operation. Not only that, adrenaline lovers have now traveled from five continents to the iconic Pass of Killiecrankie to sa mple the once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Statistics show that 4276 jumps have been processed from June to December 2011, with jumpers coming from China, India, Europe, the Americas and Asia.
That figure is four months ahead of the initial projection of 4000 customers in year one presented to local authority planning officials last year. Based on those numbers, independent economic analysts set the value of bungee jumping to the Scottish economy at £7.5 million within two years.
However, operators are now being compelled to revise those figures- a positive indicator for the future of the sport in this country and for Scotland's tourism coffers.
"When we first embarked on this project, many people said that bungee jumping would never take off in Scotland but we knew there was an appetite and we knew we had a truly beautiful location and good partners," said co-owner John Mason-Strang. "It took four years to get this through planning but we feel the figures are an endorsement of the vision and a reward for the hard work. We can now officially say that Scotland is a bungee country."
Bungee jumping was started commercially in New Zealand by A.J Hackett in 1988 and its popularity spread from this Antipodean base. However, Scotland can now hold its head high alongside more established centres for the extreme sport, thanks to the released figures.
"When you start something in a country that has never had it before, there are always elements of gamble. A lot of it is about how you present your product. We have been pleasantly shocked by the numbers but also by the vast range of people who have taken part. We are very positive about the future," added Mason-Strang.
While the £200 000 bridge bungee pod has boosted local tourism-based businesses, it has also benefited the National Trust for Scotland. Scotland's largest conservation charity was viewed, initially, as an unlikely project partner. However, footfall has increased at the Trust's Visitor Centre at Killiecrankie and the bungee jumping will enable the charity to re-imagine the story of the Pass of Killiecrankie for a new audience. Importantly, the Trust also gains a percentage of every jump fee; money which is ploughed back into its conservation effort in the beauty spot.
National Trust for Scotland's North Perthshire Property Manager, Ben Notley, said: "We are delighted Highland Fling Bungee has eclipsed its target and that bungee jumping has proved so popular in this area. We look forward to working with them in the months ahead. There is a direct financial benefit to the Trust's conservation work and it provides an opportunity for the Trust to develop ways to increase awareness of, and respect for, the environment in which both providers, and users, operate."
As well as being the first permanent bridge bungee jump operator in the UK, Highland Fling Bungee also became the first company in Europe to introduce a night jumping programme.