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Supporting Rural Tourism

Preparing for increased visitor numbers this summer.

More seasonal rangers, temporary toilets, car parking and campervan facilities will help rural areas to welcome back visitors when coronavirus restrictions are eased.

The work – supported by £2.75 million to be administered through the NatureScot Better Places Fund – comes after countryside hotspots saw a marked increase in tourists last year, resulting in issues such as a lack of services, littering and antisocial behaviour.

A multiagency Visitor Management Steering Group has published a list of actions to ensure rural communities are prepared, including:

  • investment in infrastructure and facilities, including doubling the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund to £6.2 million
  • engagement with Police Scotland who will work closely with communities and 14 Partnerships Against Rural Crime Groups to help manage challenging behaviour
  • a review of existing guidance where needed, in particular on managing camping with tents and starting fires
  • a VisitScotland led marketing campaign to raise awareness of how to explore the countryside responsibly

Tourism Secretary Fergus Ewing said:

“Whilst for now the ‘stay at home’ message remains, we can all look forward to enjoying Scotland’s unmatched tourism offering when the sector restarts. As people flock back to our beautiful rural areas, we want to make sure these communities are ready to welcome back increased visitor numbers, especially as international travel may not be possible for some time yet.

“The collaboration between the Scottish Government and partners on the Visitor Management Group has been exceptional and I am confident we have a robust set of plans to prepare for a successful Scottish summer season. We’ve published a list of actions we will take to mitigate some of the challenges from last summer and this one off funding will complement local authorities’ visitor management plans and provide some additional short term support for the 2021 season.

“We’ve long supported rural tourism through the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund and I’m pleased to announce that the fourth round of funding will open imminently for applications so rural communities can continue to reap the benefits of a thriving tourism industry.”

Francesca Osowska, NatureScot Chief Executive, said:

“NatureScot is committed to helping everyone to be able to enjoy Scotland’s outdoors. This new £2.75 million will allow us to further invest – through Round Two of our Better Places Green Recovery Fund – in visitor infrastructure, and the skills needed to build and maintain improvements so that we can all access and enjoy nature easily and safely.

“Investing in nature, including in visitor management, is a key part of a green recovery: providing jobs; addressing nature loss; and tackling climate change. Round 2 of our Better Places Fund will support Local Authorities, as well as community groups, charities and NGOs, to make further improvements to visitor management during the 2021 season and I encourage you to submit your applications for this crucial work as soon as possible.”

Background

Local authorities and community organisations can apply for grants of up to £75,000 per site, which will be administered through NatureScot’s Better Places Fund Round 2

The work of the Visitor Management Group has been led by VisitScotland in close collaboration with NatureScot, Police Scotland, National Park Authorities, Forestry and Land Scotland, local authorities, Transport Scotland and others.

The group focused on three areas including Education and Marketing, Investment and Infrastructure, and Prevention, Regulation & Reassurance.

The budget allocation for the National Parks has been increased by £4.6 million in 2021-2022, including £1m to help with visitor management. A further £750,000 has been granted to NatureScot for visitor management at the National Nature Reserves.

Read the Scottish Outdoor Access Code

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