More than a dozen popular tourist sites across Scotland are to receive just over £3m in funding for projects to enhance the visitor experience.
Thirteen projects across the country have been recommended for approval – subject to conditions – to receive cash from round three of the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF).
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 this increase in visitor numbers.
It aims to reduce the impact of visitor numbers on local communities and facilities and create a more collaborative and sustainable approach to infrastructure provision and long-term maintenance of local facilities for the benefit of communities, when it is safe to welcome back visitors.
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 facilities – including disposal points – viewpoints and toilet provision.
Round three applications recommended for approval include:
A total of 66 expressions of interest were initially made when round three funding was announced in January. Of these, 36 applications were submitted – one was subsequently withdrawn – and 13 of these recommended for funding approval.
Over the three rounds of RTIF, projects across 12 local authorities and both national park authorities have received support – from the Scottish Borders to Shetland. Round three has also seen new success stories from local authorities including Aberdeenshire and Perth & Kinross.
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’s essential we continue supporting our tourism businesses, especially in rural and remote areas, so they are in the best position possible for welcoming visitors again when conditions allow.
“The Rural Tourism and Infrastructure Fund is key to supporting critical tourism projects in our more remote areas. 13 projects will get support in this latest round of funding, improving visitor facilities and enhancing the visitor experience.”
Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland Chief Executive, said: “I am delighted to announce these 13 projects which have been recommended for approval for RTIF funding. It is so important that we support work that aims to improve visitor facilities and the visitor experience, particularly when the tourism, hospitality and events industries remain closed under the current restrictions.
“We all need to play our part in being responsible visitors and improvement works like these are crucial to ensuring our visitor destinations remain sustainable for years to come. This funding will help local communities improve their facilities, as well as enhancing the visitor experience both 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. We believe this fund is helping to ensure that the tourism infrastructure for visitors meets current and future demand.”