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Ambitious new plans to improve visitor facilities on the Isle of Gigha have secured a £135,000 investment from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
Gigha Trading Limited (GTL), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust (IGTH), is creating a motorhome and camping site over the next year.
This is in response to the increasing numbers of visitors to the island since the Scottish Government introduced the Road Equivalent Tariff scheme on ferries.
Gigha is just a 20-minute ferry trip off the west coast and boasts outstanding natural beauty, including white sandy beaches.
The new development will offer purpose-built camping and motorhome facilities close to the ferry pier and with access to the beach. It will include a new toilet, shower, laundry and kitchen building, 15 new camping pitches and 10 motorhome pitches, most of which will have hook-ups.
The total project will cost around £336,000. In addition to HIE’s contribution will be an award of £171,000 from the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF), with the balance from IGHT.
It is expected the modern site will strengthen the local economy by an additional £225,000 a year and that other businesses on Gigha will benefit from the increase in footfall and visitor spend.
IGHT and GTL successfully secured investment from the RTIF but were unable to fund all of the remainder of the project. The HIE funding will enable them to develop the new camp and motorhome site within the planned timescale and standards.
Morag Goodfellow, HIE area manager for Argyll and the Islands, said: ‘Tourism is one of Scotland’s key industries. It is also a growth industry and more and more businesses are gearing up to benefit from new opportunities linked to increasing demand.
‘This is an excellent example of a tourism infrastructure project in a rural area that will boost the local economy, support valuable jobs and strengthen community resilience. It will also enhance the wider tourism offering in Argyll, which has long been a destination of choice for visitors, and give visitors an incentive to stay longer.
‘We are very pleased to be able to provide support and look forward to seeing the new site taking shape.’
Jane Millar, business development manager with GTL, said: ‘We are delighted to have secured funding from HIE and RTIF for the Gigha camp and motorhome project.
‘Gigha currently has an accommodation shortage, which has a knock-on effect on the island’s tourist season. The number of visitors to Gigha has steadily risen from 2015 onwards and, during peak times, we cannot accommodate all visitors.
‘The project further supports island residents and businesses by deterring indiscriminate parking and camping on the island. The chosen site location further fits into Gigha’s wider strategy to reduce car-borne visitors to the island by making it very accessible and within short distance from the ferry slip.
‘We look forward to offering a wider range of accommodation options, improving visitor experience and supporting a sustainable approach towards tourism and the island’s economy.’
The Isle of Gigha camping and motorhome site is due to welcome its first visitors in autumn 2020, after which it will be open throughout the year.