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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 11/01/2021

More than a dozen popular tourist sites across Scotland are to receive just over £3 million in funding for projects which will enhance the visitor experience.

13 projects across the country have been recommended for approval, subject to conditions, to receive funding 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.

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 Of these, 36 applications were submitted – one was subsequently withdrawn – and 13 of these recommended for funding approval.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.

Approved projects subject to conditions

Aberdeenshire Council. St Cyrus National Nature Reserve (NNR) Parking and Toilet Improvements £201,925. A partnership project between Aberdeenshire Council and NatureScot to upgrade and expand the car parking at St Cyrus NNR to provide an additional 40 parking spaces for cars and motorhomes to cope with increased visitor numbers at the site. The project includes refurbishment of the toilets to include a changing places standard toilet, and provision of additional cycling racks, EV charge points and a chemical disposal point.

Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority. Trossachs Visitor Management Project £375,000. A partnership project between the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park, SS Sir Walter Scott Trust and Forestry and Land Scotland. The project will address a number of the issues seen over the past few years with increasing visitor pressure in the Trossachs. Activity will include additional motorhome, car parking and cyclist provision at Trossachs Pier, Ben A'an and Stronachlachar, provision of new toilet facilities at Trossachs Pier and improved signage and orientation provision to manage visitors through the Trossachs.

Fife Council. Fife Outdoor Tourism Infrastructure Programme £375,00. Partnership project between Fife Council and Fife Countryside Trust to provide a network of parking, toilets, interpretative and renewable energy points for EV and EB charging serving the Fife Coastal path, the Pilgrims Way and Fife 191 driving route. The project will deliver new facilities in locations such as Elie, Pittenweem, Kinghorn, Craigmead and Glenvale.

Highland Council. Photographers Knoll footpath – Old Man of Storr £151,343. Phase two of the Highland Council-led Storr mountain footpath restoration project which would take visitors from the recently completed path work under round two of RTIF, up between the Old Man and the Needle to the junction of the Necklace path and then on to the Photographers Knoll paths. This will complete the package of works including the soon to be completed toilets funded under round one of RTIF and the new car park.

East Lothian Council. Gullane Bents Sustainable Tourism Project £TBC. Project by East Lothian Council to provide enhanced toilets and showering facilities at the popular Gullane Bents with a fully accessible changing places toilet improving access to the site for all. East Lothian Council aim to encourage low carbon transport access to the site with emphasis on cycling and public transport.

Highland Council. Sustainable Visitor Infrastructure in Glencoe and Glen Etive £375,000. Partnership project between Highland Council and the National Trust for Scotland to address increasing visitor pressures in Glencoe and Glen Etive through provision of an overarching plan for an improved visitor infrastructure and management routes along the A82. The project will improve car parking provision, paths and address visitor management issues.

Aberdeenshire Council. Glenshee Toilet Improvements £TBC. Replacement of the current toilets owned by Aberdeenshire Council at Glenshee with new, fully accessible toilet facilities and showers with 24 hour, 365 days a year access for walkers, climbers and visitors on the Snow Roads Scenic Route and a gateway to Royal Deeside. The project will also provide a grey and wastewater disposal point for motorhomes, new cycle facilities and an EB charge point.

Shetland Islands Council. Scalloway Camping and Recreational Facility (SCARF) £253,428. A partnership project between Shetland Islands Council and the Scalloway Community Development Company to plug a key gap in local provision of facilities for camping, caravans and motorhomes in Shetland, and meet the growing demand for motorhome facilities. The development will include provision for 10 motorhome/caravan overnight bays with toilets and shower facilities, waste disposal and recycling points.

Highland Council. Kinlochewe Tourist Facilities £TBC. A partnership between Highland Council and Community Out West Trust in Kinlochewe to provide new carbon neutral toilets and shower facilities, and CWD facility adjacent to Kinlochewe River on the NC500 route. 

Perth & Kinross Council. Improving facilities for Loch Leven Heritage Trail users £303,711. A partnership project between Perth & Kinross Council and RSPB Scotland at the RSPB Reserve at Loch Leven. The Reserve has become a hub for the Loch Leven Heritage Trail and the Sleeping Giant Path which connects the Reserve with Lochore Meadows Country Park resulting in visitor numbers increasing from 50,000 to 200,000 per annum. The project will enlarge the car park to create an additional 100 car parking spaces, provide six twin EV charging points, and new toilets including a changing places facility. 

Highland Council. Ardmamurchan Lighthouse Project £192,000. A partnership project between Highland Council and the Arnamurchan Lighthouse Trust to improve provision of the external free to access parts of the site in this remote peninsula. Works include improved car parking, paths, walkways and the creation of new viewpoints. The project will improve access from the site and address safety concerns from the increasing numbers of visitors.

Aberdeenshire Council. Newburgh Seal Watching Experience £130,500. Phase one of a partnership project between Aberdeenshire Council and Newburgh and Ythan Community Trust SCIO to upgrade and increase the capacity of the car park at Newburgh Links which is part of the National Nature Reserve covering the Ythan Estuary which has attracted increasing numbers of visitors to watch the seal colony established at the Links.

Highland Council. The Cludgie Project – Phase Two £102,345. Phase two proposal by Highland Council and Assynt Development Trust which will see the completion of the motorhome provision and waste disposal unit at this key location on the NC500. 

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 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.

Tourism Secretary, Fergus Ewing, Scottish Government

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.

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive, VisitScotland

St Cyrus is one of the richest and most diverse National Nature Reserves in Britain so it is no surprise that it is extremely popular with visitors.

Like many of our beauty spots, last year saw an increase in the number of people coming to the reserve to enjoy the great outdoors.

This funding will help to ensure the facilities at St Cyrus are better able to meet that increased demand in future, helping more people to connect with nature at this special place.

Ben Ross, Head of Nature Reserves, NatureScot

Find out more about the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund.