Rural tourism sector to gain £3.9m in funding
A total of £3.9 million of Scottish Government funding will be made available to rural tourism to support visitor management.
More than 200 seasonal countryside rangers and operations staff posts will be created to support sustainable and responsible rural tourism.
The rangers will help tackle issues such as littering, antisocial behaviour and public toileting in rural tourism hotspots through patrols, liaising with local communities, landowners and police.
Operations staff will manage popular rural tourism sites with issues such as pressures on parking and camping sites.
The funding includes £1.5m for NatureScot Better Places Fund Round 3 which opens today.
The countryside rangers and operations staff will ensure visitors can enjoy all that Scotland has to offer while reducing disturbance on communities and the environment during the coming 2022 season.
Tourism minister Ivan McKee said: “Scotland’s breath taking natural scenery and rich historical sites rightly attract many visitors and help local economies but we know that this success is often tempered by increased pressure on communities, services, transport and facilities – particularly in rural areas.
“It is crucial that increasing demand at some of our most iconic rural and natural attractions is managed in a sustainable and responsible way to protect Scotland’s scenery and reduce pressure on local communities.
“The rangers and operations staff will support visitors to find suitable parking and necessary facilities while ensuring adherence to the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. This will allow for a better experience for tourists as well as the communities who experience the challenges that large visitor numbers can bring.”
Francesca Osowska, NatureScot chief executive, added: “Our review shows how successful investing in rangers has been to adapt to the huge increase in visits to Scotland’s outdoors during the Covid 19 pandemic. By supporting an extra 127 rangers and seasonal staff to help people to enjoy the outdoors responsibly, the Better Places Fund has made a real difference, not just for visitors and local communities, but crucially for nature too.
“We expect large numbers of people to visit Scotland’s outdoors again in 2022 and so it is great news that support will continue with this further commitment from the Scottish Government. Investing in visitor management and connecting people with nature is key to our continued green recovery post-pandemic - providing green jobs, protecting the environment and helping to tackle climate change.”