£6m to support popular sites around the country to grow and thrive.
The Scottish Government is to establish a fund to provide investment in infrastructure to support sustainable growth in rural tourism across Scotland.
The Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund – which will see £6 million invested over two years (2018/19 and 2019/20) – will help ensure the services and facilities tourists and communities need are provided.
Latest figures indicate notable increases in visitor numbers to rural tourism sites in certain areas, including:
- The North Coast 500 route attracting an extra 29,000 visitors to the Highlands, with the area experiencing a 26% annual rise in visitors compared to a 6% increase across the rest of the region
- The ‘Outlander effect’ on Historic Environment Scotland sites, with those featuring in the television series continuing to see large annual visitor increases – including 44% for Blackness Castle and a 42% rise at Doune Castle
- The Isle of Skye continuing to grow in popularity, with Visit Scotland’s Portree centre seeing more than 150,000 tourist visits annually, increasing 5% year-on-year
The new fund will support a wide range of improvement projects – such as parking, camping facilities, recycling points and footpath access.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“Scotland’s islands and rural communities attract visitors from across the globe.
“The tourist boom that our country is enjoying is great news. It means more jobs and investment but it can also mean pressure on transport, services and facilities – especially in rural areas. The Scottish Government is determined to help.
“Our new £6 million Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund will take bids from communities and work with local councils to support projects that enable even more people to enjoy Scotland, the most beautiful country in the world.”
The new fund is expected to launch in early 2018 and will be administered by public sector partners working with local authorities, with input from communities and the industry to identify projects requiring support.