Visitor management groups now meeting weekly to tackle tourist-related problems

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Lochaber, Skye and South-West Ross is one of three areas making up the new multi-agency Visitor Management Groups which are now meeting weekly to address local tourism issues.

The groups have input from emergency services such as Police, Fire, Ambulance and Coastguard, together with a range of Highland Council services covering roads, parking, litter and waste, access rangers, environmental health and public toilet-related issues.

Input from Highland councillors and communities is also being shared, while other partners include SEPA, Forest and Land Scotland, NatureScot and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

There are three designated groups divided by geographic area, these being Skye, Lochaber and South West Ross; The North Highland Visitor group and one for the Inverness Area and Nairnshire.

Chairman of the council’s tourism committee, Councillor Gordon Adam, said last week that the local authority and its partners have invested ‘significant resources’ to support visitors and local communities this summer.

Mr Gordon added: ‘It is imperative that we work together to ensure that we use these resources as effectively as possible, the weekly multi-agency group meetings across Highland, offer a whole-system approach and are an effective way to approach visitor management across Highland.’

The groups aim to make sure that visitors to Highland enjoy themselves this summer while keeping safe and are aware of their rights and responsibilities.

It also aims to help manage the impact visitors have on the communities hosting them and reduce the associated pressures due to the high number of people visiting the area.

The groups meet weekly throughout the tourism season to share information, plan and work to resolve any concerns, including a round-up of the main issues from the previous week and forecast for the following week.

The council said that the overwhelming majority of visitors want to enjoy Highland responsibly and are reassured and happy to cooperate with the support and advice offered by the various services.

‘However, there have been instances when unacceptable behaviour has been challenged and visitors have responded positively to this,’  said a council statement last week.