EVERY year Germans head to the Highlands to indulge in their favourite past-times of hunting, shooting and fishing.

Now efforts to attract them have stepped up a gear with the launch of the first German language website for the body promoting the activities.

The Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group (SCSTG), which provides an online portal for shooting, stalking, fishing and other sports, said the move would give it an even bigger audience in Europe's most populous country.

SCSTG project co-ordinator Victoria Brooks said: "Germany represents a large market of country sports enthusiasts keen to come to Scotland. There is easy access from some of the main German cities and we want to ensure Scotland is seen as a key destination.

"Since its launch, visits to the site from Germany have increased by more than 50%. The results are encouraging and proof that the demand is there, especially for deerstalking."

Oliver Dorn, editor of a German hunting magazine, added that the idea was "good to see". He said: "Scotland is one of my favourite destinations to hunt and shoot."