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Visit Scotland | Alba

In March 2021, the First Minister announced a new £25 million tourism recovery programme. The recovery proposals were developed by the Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group (STERG) in collaboration with members of the Tourism Task Force and represent initiatives which are over and above the scope of current public agency funding.

It’s the recommendation of STERG and the Tourism Task Force that these proposals will not only accelerate recovery in the short term, allowing tourism to once again contribute to communities and to the economy of Scotland, but will provide the foundation for a sustainable recovery of Scottish tourism in the medium to long term, setting us back on track towards the ambitions of Scotland Outlook 2030.

The Scottish Tourism Emergency response Group (STERG) is coordinating the delivery of these projects. The 10 recovery proposals are all at various stages of development and this page gives a brief status update.

Priority recovery proposals

Phased approach

A phased approach is being taken in order to meet specific timescales set by the Scottish Government.

Phase one: A set of priority recovery proposals which outline the immediate support required from Scottish Government in the coming six months to two years. This is over and above the urgent need for ongoing business support to ensure business survival.

Phase two: A five-year recovery plan which includes a further set of proposals, accompanied by proposed investment models. Proposals will reflect both short term proposals to support immediate recovery within the next two years, and medium-term proposals to support recovery within two to five years. Submission end of May 2021.

Phase three: Secure the necessary funding and support to implement the five year recovery plan.

Benefits

Delivering a tourism recovery and investment plan will deliver benefits which underpin the four key outcomes identified in Scotland Outlook 2030:

  • A more resilient, agile sector capable of managing future shocks and change, building longer term sustainability and profitability.
  • A greener low carbon exemplar sector which delivers tangible community and social benefit, creating and developing sustainable destinations.
  • Skilled sustainable workforce with improved employee working conditions built on fair work principles creating a committed, diverse and valued workforce.
  • A globally recognised sector – considered world class in key sectors and providing the very best, authentic and memorable experiences.

The Strategic Tourism Infrastructure Development Fund

The Strategic Tourism Infrastructure Development Fund is a pilot initiative designed to support more extensive and collaborative projects from visitor hotspots across Scotland that are facing immediate and damaging pressures on their infrastructure or negative impacts on communities as a result of significant increases in visitor numbers since the summer of 2020. 

The Strategic Tourism Development Plans will identify the key infrastructure issues at various locations, the barriers to  be addressed including planning, environmental impact, legal and landowner issues, the costs for the development of the infrastructure and the timescales required for delivery of the essential infrastructure over the next 2-5 year period. These Development Plans are due for completion by the end of December 2021. 

Strategic Tourism Infrastructure Development Plans - Approved

Orkney Island Council. Orkney Infrastructure Development Plan. £35,000. 

Key Outputs
(1)  A prioritised list of strategic infrastructure (physical and digital) projects to be delivered over a 5-year period from 2022  together with high-level costings and analysis of key issues and risks. 

(2)  A comprehensive destination asset audit of (i) existing provision of tourism-specific infrastructure as well as infrastructure and facilities that support tourism* (including but not limited to) accommodation, transport, natural and cultural heritage, public conveniences, parking, roads, waste disposal, paths and trails, camping and motorhome facilities; and (ii) existing programmes and projects, both ongoing and planned.  

(3)  Framework for an Interpretation Strategy, including themes for interpretation and visitor experience, supporting  by a more consistent and integrated approach which will essentially leverage Orkney’s stories to disperse visitors across the Islands and informing the development of the infrastructure plan.

Dumfries & Galloway Council. Loch Ken – Visitor Infrastructure Plan. £20,250. 

The Loch Ken Plan due to be published in June 21 highlights the need for a strategic review of tourist infrastructure around the Loch, both in accurately and consistently measuring the infrastructure currently in place, and identifying opportunities for considered, appropriate and sustainable improvements to align Loch Ken and its visitor offering with the overarching aims of ‘quality’ and ‘sustainability’. A strategic development plan would be an opportunity to embed these aims further and establish what opportunities these aims would bring in terms of visitor infrastructure.  

 A vital part of the strategic infrastructure review will be to calculate metrics measuring the economic benefit currently being delivered by the loch currently, as well as the potential economic benefit following the delivery of potential infrastructure items. The plan would establish the tourism infrastructure limitations and opportunities,

The plan will focus on identifying infrastructure assets currently in place and their condition, a signage audit, establishing Land Ownership of potential local authority or Hydro Scheme assets, electric charging infrastructure opportunities, best practice examples at similar sites and projected costings of potential works.      

East Lothian Council. East Lothian Visitor Management Plan. £30,000. 

Last year exceeded all previous years with an estimated extra 1,000,000 visits to sites in East Lothian despite coastal beauty spot car parks being closed until late June.  East Lothian and its coastline is a relatively small area and the visitor management plan would look to cover the whole of county, looking at the relationship between the coastline and the countryside as well acknowledging the role of the key tourist towns namely North Berwick and Dunbar. Both offer significant opportunities and challenges with visitors and a long term plan addressing current and future pressure points is required. Identifying ways of improving visitor flow throughout the county, and providing alternatives to the usual hotspots will be investigated.                        

The plan would address issues relating to but not only; transport including parking, public transport and active travel options, litter management, visitor flow, waste services and toilet facilities, business opportunities, specific community issues, seasonality, environmental sensitivities, climate change and sustainability implications. Finally each project identified would be further developed into fully formulated costed briefs to be matched to Council funding priorities and external funding opportunities.

Cairngorms National Park Authority. Cairngorms Strategic Tourism Infrastructure Development Plan. £35,000.

The increase in visitors, now amounting to over 2 million visitors a year, is putting pressure on this heritage and it is imperative that we plan and manage for visitors in a way that reflects this international national asset. A new strategic approach to planning , delivery and management of visitor infrastructure will play a significant part in this process.           

CNPA propose to develop a Strategic Tourism Infrastructure Development Plan for the National Park, focussing on four hotspots and one Park-wide issue.  Deeside, Cairngorms/Glenmore, the Angus Glens, Snow Roads Route and Park-wide Camping /Caravan issues.   

The plan will correspond with the Visitor Management Plans that have been developed with partners in response to the Covid-19 emergency. In particular, the plan will help identify a number of mutually reinforcing projects in specific areas at the visitor pressure points and take them to the stage where they have appropriate designs, accurate cost estimates and, as far as possible, consents in place. This process will greatly facilitate delivery of the projects as further funds become available.                                

Approved Subject to Conditions

Perth & Kinross Council. Perth and Kinross Strategic Tourism Infrastructure Plan. £35,000.

Perth & Kinross Visitor Management Group (PKVMG) have identified 8 hotspots including Loch Rannoch, Loch Earn, Loch Leven, Loch Tay and Loch Tummel. Perth & Kinross Council propose to appoint a 7-month post to collate data, conduct visitor and community consultation and prepare the Strategic Plan in conjunction with the Visitor Management Co-ordinator and PKVMG.

 Step 1 (2021 camping season – until September/October 2021)                                                

  • Gathering and organising more formal evidence about visitor pressures 
  • Monitoring or surveying visitor experience satisfaction
  • Conducting community consultations to identify potential improvements, both infrastructure and staffing approach.   

Step 2 (until December 2021 with some elements running until April 2022)                         

  • Develop a long-term strategic plan & tactical options for Season 2022 and beyond.
  • Conduct a feasibility studies, costings and other preparatory work including:
  • Identification and liaison with landowners,
  • Environmental impact assessments
  • Ensuring compliance with planning and environmental legislation,
  • Identifying potential opportunities for partnership with local businesses,
  • Identifying and pursuing relevant funding opportunities,
  • Assisting with planning application process etc,
  • Agreeing future maintenance responsibilities.

City of Edinburgh Council. Pentland Hills Regional Park Sustainable Access Project. £31,500.

Visitor surveys (1998, 2006, 2018) consistently show that up to 85% of visitors travel by car to the Regional Park and the pressure on the limited parking resource has increased year on year with more calls for improvements by visitors and nearby residents who are impacted by displacement parking.      

This plan involves the development of strategic active travel routes that link up the major urban areas to the Pentland Hills Regional Park (PHRP). The Strategic Plan would highlight the key improvements required for each pressure point and explore the creation of safer pathways for all user on these routes and how they can be promoted. The plan will also link in with the NatureScot ambition to greening these strategy routes by creating green corridors which link urban areas to the countryside. The Council will work with Edinburgh & Lothians Greenspace Trust (ELGT) to deliver the Strategic Plan.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. Outer Hebrides: Visitor Infrastructure Plan. £25,000.

The project will look at the current profile of visitor activity across the Outer Hebrides and challenges arising, alongside projected areas for sectoral growth which may give rise to future pressure points. It will seek to work closely with and within communities across the Outer Hebrides to identify how infrastructure provision can be enhanced in a way that improves outcomes for visitors, local residents and the environment.                                                                                        

The project will:

  •  Identify what the key challenges of visitor management are across the Outer Hebrides. Looking at how these factors differ in nature and intensity across the island chain and how they are currently addressed.
  • Identify key areas for infrastructure improvement, giving an outline of what will be needed to deliver these.
  • Support the development of the island’s Green Tourism aspirations, identifying ways in which the local industry can develop and implement environmentally sensitive and carbon neutral approaches.  
  • Take an overview of the wide range of plans and strategies (local, regional and national) which relate to the visitor infrastructure of the islands, including those in development.  Seeking to ensure that points of commonality are identified and that pertinent areas are integrated to the vision of local communities, businesses and agencies.

Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. East Loch Lomond Action Area. £35,000.

A Strategic Development Plan for the area from Drymen to the south east of Loch Lomond, heading north on the popular B837 on the east side of the loch through Balmaha in parallel with the West Highland Way to Rowardennan. The place-based approach to the scoping and planning project will examine how the area can continue to attract visitors whilst reducing vehicular movement and parking capacity issues along the road corridor at problem hotspots (such as Balmaha and Rowardennan). This became a more obvious and pressing need during summer 2020 following relaxations to the Covid-19 outbreak and the plan will consider how:   

  • Infrastructure can be developed across the wider area, dovetailing with other transport and facility planning park-wide, currently underway to ensure places can manage increasing numbers of visitors;
  • Inadequate existing visitor infrastructure at specific points, such as Balmaha and Rowardennan, can be enhanced by planning and delivering improved services at popular mini destinations, which currently offer no or limited visitor facilities and through the provision of public transport options to reduce vehicular pressures;
  • The strategy will embrace the NPA Climate Emergency drive towards net zero development planning.

Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. West Loch Lomond and Cobbler Action Area. £35,000.

The output will be a Strategic Development Plan for the area, created in partnership, from Duck Bay on south east Loch Lomond, heading north on the popular A82 touring route to Inveruglas via Tarbet, where the A83 branches west to Ardgartan. The place-based approach to the scoping and planning project will examine how;                                                   

  • The wider area can attract and disperse visitors from recognised problem hotspots (such as Luss) on the very popular linear route to less visited sites (such as Arrochar and Inveruglas) as seen by the pressing need during summer 2020.  
  •  Infrastructure can be developed across the wider area, dovetailing with other transport and facility planning park-wide, currently underway to ensure places can manage increasing numbers of visitors.   
  •  inadequate existing visitor infrastructure at specific points, such as The Cobbler and Duck Bay, can be enhanced by planning and delivering improved services at popular mini destinations, which currently offer no or limited visitor facilities;
  • A large eyesore site - the former torpedo range, derelict for many years - can be integrated into the feasibility of future development plans to add to the attractiveness of the area. This site is currently on the market for sale with multiple interests, we will watch to see how the property might be integrated into the planning mix for the wider locations;
  • The strategy will embrace the NPA Climate Emergency drive towards net zero development planning.

Highland Council. Highland Tourism Infrastructure Plan. £25,132. 

The initial phase of activity (the audit of existing infrastructure) is largely complete and still useful, community feedback, the effects of Covid-19 on tourism and the expected implications of this for future tourism in Highland suggest a much more comprehensive second stage to this plan is required. The aim is therefore to increase the level of detail in the plan and check some of the proposals and priorities within it with communities and other stakeholders. In order to do this effectively without the distraction and additional demands of the ongoing visitor management required during 2021, the Council proposes employing a dedicated full-time officer on a temporary basis.  This first phase of the work would include:

  • A brief review of the initial audit to bring it up to date

  • Analysis of the consultation responses received from communities & public sector partners and further engagement with them where required

  • Identification of other infrastructure development already proposed to avoid duplication

  •  Identification of future infrastructure required and initial prioritisation

  • Engagement with Council services Councillors and Area Committees to ensure both local support but also the practicalities of proposed provision

  • Ongoing engagement with communities, partners and other stakeholders throughout this phase (this would likely mirror the “workshop” style approach previously used by the Council when consulting with industry and other partners about a possible tourism levy but could also involve online / webinar type events).