Iconic Scottish rural tourism sites to receive £3m for improved visitor facilities

Written by Jenni Davidson on 5 October 2018 in News

Sites including the Old Man of Storr on Skye and Glenfinnan Viaduct have been awarded funding to help manage increased visitor numbers

A steam train going over Glenfinnan Viaduct - Image credit: Andrew Viney via Flickr

Some of Scotland’s most popular rural tourist locations are to receive a share of £3m to help them deal with increasing visitor demand.

Eighteen sites, including the Old Man of Storr on Skye and Glenfinnan Viaduct, will receive support for new visitor facilities such as toilets and parking from the first round of the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund.

The first round of awards includes £300,000 for new toilets and motorhome facilities at the Old Man of Storr; £269,906 for parking for 100 cars and 10 motorhomes at Glenfinnan Viaduct and £260,000 for improvements to toilets along west Loch Lomond at Luss, Tarbet and Inveruglas.

The Cairngorms National Park is to get £226,000 for new paths linking car parks, visitor attractions and accommodation, while £58,000 has been allocated for toilets and other visitor facilities at the Otter Pools in Dumfries and Galloway and £131,660 for a parking hub at Hoswick in Shetland.

The Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund is being administered by VisitScotland and was open to councils to apply for funding on behalf of their communities.

A total of £6m funding will be split between 2018-19 and 2019-20 aimed at funding infrastructure improvements such as parking, camping, visitor facilities and recycling points.

Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop announced the funding allocation on a visit to Glenfinnan Viaduct, which has seen a huge increase in visitors since featuring in the Harry Potter films.

She said: “The growing popularity of our stunning natural scenery and rich historical sites is great for bringing jobs and investment to our communities but can also put pressure on communities, services, transport and facilities – particularly in rural areas.

“This funding will help our industry keep up with the tourism boom by supporting the creation of much needed infrastructure such as new pathways, car parks and facilities at some of our most iconic rural and natural attractions.”

Chair of Highland Council’s Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee Councillor Allan Henderson said that the increase in overall visits to the Highlands and the popularity of Glenfinnan had taken parking issues at the site to “unsustainable levels” which were causing congestion and safety issues.

“This funding will help to ease some of that pressure with new parking for 100 cars and 10 motorhome or bus spaces and will be great news for both visitors and the local community,” he said.

Chief executive of VisitScotland Malcolm Roughead said the rural tourism funding was a “critical step” towards ensuring that tourism infrastructure meets current and future demand.

He said: “Due to the continued success of tourism, it is crucial that we address those pinch points already identified and futureproof those areas where demand is growing.

“The Scottish Government Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF) will help these communities improve their facilities and enhance their offering to welcome more visitors in the future.”

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