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Rural projects encouraged to apply.
Tourist sites in Scotland’s rural areas can now apply for a share of £3 million funding aimed at helping them meet the demand of growing visitor numbers.
A total of 31 projects across 10 local authorities and two national park authorities have already been offered grants worth nearly £6 million in the previous two rounds of Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF) awards and applications are now open for the third round.
The fund – administered by VisitScotland - aims to help tourist attractions and their communities deal with the impact of increased visitor numbers on the local infrastructure by helping with improvements such as parking areas, visitor facilities and recycling points.
On a visit to Moray, Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said:
“While we should be proud that Scotland’s breathtaking natural scenery and rich historical sites attract so many visitors and help the local economy, we know that this success is often tempered by increased pressure on communities, services, transport and facilities – particularly in rural areas.
“The importance of a fund dedicated to helping deal with increasing demand can be seen by the level of interest in the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund since its creation in 2017 and the improvements it has been able to fund. That is why in September we announced that a further £3 million was being made available to invest in new projects in 2020-21.
“Applications are now being invited from local authorities and national park authorities to apply individually or in partnership with their communities for a share of this pot. 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.”
VisitScotland Chief Executive Malcolm Roughead, said:
“I am delighted that VisitScotland will again be able to assist local communities experiencing pressure points to improve their facilities through our administration of the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund.
“It is so important that we support communities in these locations to ensure the continued growth of tourism in Scotland, as well as encouraging our visitors to explore the lesser-known areas.
“VisitScotland works closely with communities and businesses to showcase the rich assets, hidden gems and local stories of every region in Scotland. We promote Scotland with Scotland. Partnership and collaboration is at the heart of Scottish tourism and we work with local industry to develop and deliver innovative initiatives that grow the visitor economy.”
RTIF is administered by VisitScotland and is open to local authorities and National Park Authorities to apply or in partnership with their communities. A total of £6 million funding was split between 2018-19 and 2019-20. The announcement of the first round was made on 5 October 2018 and round two on 6 June 2019. The announcement of a further £3 million for the fund was made in the First Minister’s Programme for Government on 3 September.
Anticipated outcomes from the first two rounds include:
- 1030 new or improved parking spaces
- 11.36 km of paths developed
- 64 interpretative panels or signage
- 17 chemical waste disposal facilities for motor homes
- 3 access bridges
- 35 overnight motorhome bays
- 13 new toilet facilities
Ms Hyslop announced the opening for applications at Pluscarden Abbey near Elgin. Pluscarden Abbey is the first of the RTIF round two projects to be completed following funding of £80,500 to help create 34 new car and two coach parking spaces, toilets and a seating area, to address parking and infrastructure issues as a result of increased visitor numbers at the Abbey.
Round three will draw upon lessons learned from the previous rounds, to achieve maximum effectiveness of the funding and fully realise the objectives of the Scottish Government around sustainability and climate change.
As part of this, there will be a number of new approaches, including the introduction of a small grant to support design and planning prior to the stage two submission as well as two workshops to help applicants understand the application process. Interested parties can apply for a place in Edinburgh or Inverness.
Application forms for a share of the third round, together with the full list of recipients of the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund, are available from VisitScotland with funding awards generally still subject to conditions.