Rural tourism investment

Projects to benefit from a share of nearly £2.9 million.

Some of Scotland’s most iconic, rural and island tourist sites will receive funding for new facilities to further enhance the experience of visitors.

Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop announced the funding on a visit to Doune, where the castle has seen an upsurge in visitor numbers as a result of it featuring in the Outlander TV series and in the pilot episode for Game of Thrones.

A partnership between Stirling Council, Historic Environment Scotland and Kilmadock Development Trust, its £239,560 award will help deliver improved paths and facilities to encourage visitors to the castle to explore the wider village, benefitting local businesses.

It is one of 13 projects across Scotland benefiting from a share of nearly £3 million from the second round of the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF) which is aimed at helping meet the demand of growing visitor numbers. Other successful projects include:

  • £273,632 to create new toilets and showers along with signage at An Laimhrig pier, Eigg
  • £184,506 to enhance visitor access and protect iconic landscapes and internationally important habitats at the Old Man of Storr on Skye
  • £80,500 to provide new car and coach parking spaces, toilets and a seating area to deal with increased visitor numbers to Pluscarden Abbey in Moray

Ms Hyslop said:

“Scotland’s breathtaking natural scenery and rich historical sites are attracting a growing number of visitors from around the world. While this is great for bringing jobs and investment, it can also put pressure on communities, services, transport and facilities – particularly in rural areas.

“This funding will help the tourism industry keep pace with the upsurge in interest by developing and maintaining much needed infrastructure such as new pathways, car parks and facilities at some of our most iconic rural and natural attractions, benefitting local communities and visitors alike. This investment is crucial so that visitors from home and abroad can continue to enjoy our fantastic landscape, culture and hospitality for years to come.”

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland said:

“It is vital we support businesses and communities experiencing pinch points as we see the continued success of tourism across Scotland. This includes looking at how we can share the tourism windfall with lesser known parts of Scotland or outwith peak times.  

“The Scottish Government Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund helps the local communities improve their facilities as well as enhancing the visitor experience both for now and in the future.

“The impact of tourism goes far beyond the holiday experience. It is vital to the Scottish economy, reaching every corner of the country, creating jobs and bringing economic and social change. VisitScotland believes this fund is a step to ensuring that the tourism infrastructure for visitors meets current and future demand.”

Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of Historic Environment Scotland (HES), said:

“We are delighted to partner with Stirling Council and Kilmadock Development Trust to further support the local community of Doune. Through the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund, the collaborative project will improve the path networks to and from Doune Castle to encourage visitors to explore the village. This will enhance the visitor experience as well as promote local economic development.”


The fund, administered by VisitScotland, was open to local authorities and National Park Authorities  to apply for in partnership with their communities, and was aimed at funding infrastructure improvements such as parking, motorhome disposal points, visitor facilities and recycling points.  A total of £6 million was split between 2018-19 and 2019-20. The announcement of the first round was made on 5 October last year.

Doune Castle is one of over 300 Properties in Care managed by Historic Environment Scotland, the lead public body dedicated to caring for, protecting and promoting Scotland’s historic environment

The full list of recipients of the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund is available from VisitScotland, with funding awards generally still subject to conditions.



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