Scotland’s tourism hotspots boosted by £5.8 million recovery funding from STERG
More than £5.8 million in recovery funding from the Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group (STERG) is to be spent improving infrastructure and creating jobs at a number of Scotland’s popular visitor destinations and nature hotspots.
STERG is supporting tourism recovery following the unprecedented Covid-19 situation, through three separate funds to help improve infrastructure and the overall visitor experience as part of responsible tourism work being carried out by VisitScotland, NatureScot and a number of other partners across the country.
This includes the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF) with the announcement of over £2.4m funding for 10 sites across Scotland; NatureScot’s £3.1m Green Recovery Better Places Fund for 120 projects to improve busy nature destinations across the country; and the pilot Strategic Tourism Infrastructure Development Fund, which supports a further 10 applications totalling almost £307,000.
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.
The latest applications from local authorities and National Park authorities, in partnership with their communities across Scotland - include Point of Ness in Orkney, Tobermory in Argyll and Bute, the Pentland Hills Regional Park, Edinburgh; Loch Ness and Aden in Aberdeenshire - and will see infrastructure improvements including car, coach and camper van parking and accessible spaces, toilet provision and chemical waste disposal points, footpath improvements and electric vehicle charging points.
The pilot Strategic Tourism Infrastructure Development Fund will support development plans created by councils in Orkney, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Dumfries and Galloway, Perth and Kinross, East Lothian, City of Edinburgh and the Highlands; as well as the Cairngorms National Park Authority, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.
NatureScot’s Green Recovery Better Places Fund is helping communities to extend car parks; improve paths and accessibility; add more bins, toilets and signage; and to promote responsible behaviour while enjoying Scotland’s outdoors.
The £3.1m fund has created more than 60 new jobs, including 47 new seasonal ranger posts to help manage sites and give visitors the best possible outdoors experience. Projects at 35 locations are already complete and a further 92 projects are currently underway preparing for the coming season.
Francesca Osowska, NatureScot chief executive, said: “It is fantastic to see so many communities, charities, local authorities and NGOs eager to take pro-active action to tackle the issues and develop positive solutions to managing visitors at popular nature destinations. Investing in nature, including in visitor management, is a key part of a green recovery: providing jobs; addressing nature loss; and tackling climate change. Our Better Places Green Recovery Fund is improving visitor services and infrastructure, so that we can all access and enjoy nature easily and safely.”
Tourism minister Ivan McKee added: “As many people choose to staycation this year, we are supporting our rural communities as much as possible to cope with the increased numbers looking to enjoy Scotland’s beautiful countryside.
“I’m delighted to see that through our funding and work with NatureScot and VisitScotland, as well as local communities across the country, we can ensure that we can welcome more visitors to our unique natural environment without damaging what makes it so special.
“Scotland has world-leading legislation giving people rights to access our countryside but it’s important that these are exercised responsibly and with respect for others, for wildlife and for the land itself. Investing in visitor management and supporting our rural communities is a crucial part of sustainable tourism growth.”
Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland chief executive, commented: “The STERG tourism recovery funding is crucial in helping improve vital infrastructure and the overall visitor experience as part of responsible tourism work being undertaken by VisitScotland, NatureScot and our partners across the country.
“Over the last three years, the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund has played an important role in improving the visitor experience, be it car parking, toilets or footpaths, as we want people to have a must visit-must return experience, so I am delighted to see another 11 projects receiving funding.
“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.
“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.”