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There was joy in Glenfinnan and Arisaig today (Friday) after a visit by Scottish Government Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop saw an announcement of £270,000 and nearly £300,000, respectively, to help tackle pressure from visitor numbers.
In recent years, Glenfinnan has been overwhelmed by a boom in visitor numbers with more and more people flocking to the small hamlet on the shores of Loch Shiel to see the viaduct and steam train made famous in the Harry Potter movies, as well as the monument marking the Jacobite Rising of 1745.
The £270,000 will create additional parking for 100 cars and 10 motorhomes on land owned by Glenfinnan Estate, but which will be managed by the local community for its own financial benefit.
The sum of nearly £300,000 for the Arisaig area will be spent on creating better toilet and car parking facilities at Traigh, near Morar Sands.
The two projects were among 18 across Scotland sharing around £3 million in total in the way of grants from the Scottish Government’s Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund.
Announcing the money, Ms Hyslop told the Lochaber Times: ‘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.
‘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.’
Community council member Ingrid Henderson said it had been a long road to reaching this stage.
‘We are delighted we have managed to get this funding for the new car park. It has been quite a long road in having to apply for the money, build all the evidence, but this money will make a massive difference.
‘We are still waiting to find out about LEADER funding, so not quite good to go just yet, but this is a huge step forward.’
The planning application for the new parking facilities was recently approved by Highland Council.
On the funding for Traigh, near Arisaig, local MSP Kate Forbes added: ‘This funding will be a sea change for Mallaig, Morar and Arisaig. After numerous meetings with local community representatives, I am absolutely delighted that they’ve secured funding for new toilets.’