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Rural tourism projects across the Highlands are set to benefit from a share of nearly £1.5million to further enhance the visitor experience.
Some of Scotland’s most iconic rural and island tourist sites are amongst 13 across Scotland to be receiving total funding of more than £2.8million from the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF) for new facilities.
Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop announced the funding today (June 6th, 2019) which includes investment in enhanced visitor facilities on the Isle of Eigg, at Glenfinnan Viaduct and the Old Man of Storr in Skye.
A partnership between Highland Council and Cromarty Community Development Trust is set to receive £300,000 to provide campervan facilities including hard standing, waste disposal and toilets along with improved slipways for the Cromarty-Nigg ferry, which has seen a 30% growth in traffic.
The RTIF was launched in 2018 to help meet the demand of growing visitor numbers by funding infrastructure improvements such as parking, motorhome disposal points, visitor facilities and recycling points.
A total of six projects across the Highlands will benefit from the second round of funding, including:
• £273,632 to create new toilets and showers along with signage at An Laimhrig pier, Eigg;
• £184,506 to enhance visitor access which will protect iconic landscapes and internationally important habitats at the Old Man of Storr on Skye;
• £300,000 to install public transport access facilities, parking, signage, paths and toilet facilities at Lower Steall Falls Car Park, Glen Nevis;
• £300,000 to create an extended hardstanding area in west Bayfield Carpark, Portree, to provide more parking spaces, day parking for motorhomes with waste and water facilities;
• £53,704 towards the final phase of the Glenfinnan Viaduct project to create a footbridge and new path to link the new car park (supported on Round 1 of the RTIF) to the existing path to the viaduct, preventing the need to walk up the main trunk road for access.
Ms Hyslop said: “Scotland’s breathtaking natural scenery and rich historical sites are attracting a growing number of visitors from around the world. While this is great for bringing jobs and investment, it can also put pressure on communities, services, transport and facilities – particularly in rural areas.
“This funding will help the tourism industry keep pace with the upsurge in interest by developing and maintaining much needed infrastructure such as new pathways, car parks and facilities at some of our most iconic rural and natural attractions, benefitting local communities and visitors alike. This investment is crucial so that visitors from home and abroad can continue to enjoy our fantastic landscape, culture and hospitality for years to come.”
VisitScotland Regional Leadership Director Chris Taylor said: “We recognise that tourism has grown rapidly in the Highlands and has to be managed carefully and sustainably to maintain its position as a must-see, must-return destination. This includes looking at how we can share the tourism windfall with lesser known parts of Scotland or out with peak times.
“The Scottish Government Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund helps the local communities improve their facilities as well as enhancing the visitor experience both for now and in the future.
“The impact of tourism goes far beyond the holiday experience. It is vital to the Scottish economy, reaching every corner of the country, creating jobs and bringing economic and social change. VisitScotland believes this fund is a step to ensuring that the tourism infrastructure for visitors meets current and future demand.”
The fund, administered by VisitScotland, was open to local authorities and National Park Authorities to apply or in partnership with their communities, and was aimed at funding infrastructure improvements such as parking, motorhome disposal points, visitor facilities and recycling points. A total of £6 million was split between 2018-19 and 2019-20. The announcement of the first round was made on 5 October last year.
The full list of recipients of the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund is available from VisitScotland at www.visitscotland.org/supporting-your-business/funding/rural-tourism-infrastructure-fund with funding awards generally still subject to conditions.