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Car parks, paths and visitor management in Glen Etive and Glencoe are to be improved thanks to a £375,000 cash injection.
The funding will be used to address increasing visitor pressures through provision of an ‘overarching plan’ for better visitor infrastructure and management routes along the A82.
The plan is one of 13 projects across the country recommended for approval – subject to conditions – to receive cash from round three of the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund
Managed by VisitScotland on behalf of the Scottish Government, the RTIF was created to improve the quality of the visitor experience in rural parts of Scotland that have faced
pressure on their infrastructure due to an increase in visitor numbers.
It aims to reduce the impact of visitor numbers on communities and create a more collaborative and sustainable approach to infrastructure provision and its long-term maintenance when it is safe to welcome back visitors.
Glen Etive and Glencoe, along with other popular Lochaber hotspots such as the beaches at Morar and Arisaig, both experienced huge visitor pressure during the easing of Covid travel restrictions in the summer.
Ardnamurchan Lighthouse Project is to get £192,000, while the Photographers Knoll footpath project at the Old Man of Storr on Skye will receive £151,343.
Round three was open for applications from local authorities and National Park authorities, in partnership with their communities, and is aimed at funding infrastructure improvements such as parking, campervan services – including disposal points – viewpoints and toilet provision.
Scottish Tourism Secretary Fergus Ewing said while the tourism industry is currently halted due to the national lockdown and the need to keep supressing coronavirus, it was essential to continue supporting tourism businesses, especially in rural and remote areas, so they are in the best position possible for welcoming visitors again when conditions allow.
He added: ‘The Rural Tourism and Infrastructure Fund is key to supporting critical tourism projects in our more remote areas. Thirteen projects will get support in this latest round of funding, enhancing the visitor experience.’
Councillor Niall Maclean, Fort William and Ardnamurchan, welcomed news of the money, telling the Lochaber Times: ‘The £375,000 funding coming into our community is welcome good news to address increasing visitor pressures in Glencoe and Glen Etive. I look forward to seeing the results.’
Kate Forbes, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, has also welcomed the funding.
Ms Forbes said: ‘I’ve been closely involved with the Glen Etive community for more than two years as they considered the impact of congestion and made plans to improve infrastructure.
‘This funding will make a huge difference to the community and allow them to proceed. Glencoe and Glen Etive are hugely popular destinations for visitors and it’s important to protect the environment, support the community and ensure tourists want to return because it was a positive experience. In a difficult time, this is great news.’
Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland Chief Executive, said the new funding will help communities improve, as well as enhancing the visitor experience for now and in the future when conditions are right and it is safe to do so.
‘Tourism is a force for good and, if managed responsibly, sustains communities in every
corner of Scotland, creates jobs, tackles depopulation and improves the wellbeing of
everyone who experiences it,’ he added.
‘We believe this fund is helping to ensure tourism infrastructure for visitors meets current and future demand.’
The previously completed RTIF project at Bla Bheinn, Skye, where ‘green’ toilets have been created at the popular climbing and visitor site, with improved and extended car parking, signs and information provision.
NO F03 RTIF – Blabheinn with interpretation