Iconic sites benefit from Council and Tourism fund investment
Six Rural Infrastructure Fund projects have been successful in attracting £1.1m of funding from the £3m available in the first round of the Scottish Government’s Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund. These funds are in addition to significant Council and LEADER funding for new facilities to help meet the needs of growing visitor numbers.
Some of the RTIF funding will be used by Highland Council to create scenic layby viewpoints along the Bealach na Ba (Lochcarron North Coast 500). This project will receive £129,325 from RTIF and a further £55,425 from Highland Council.
To address the current issues at Storr the Highland Council are investing £200,000 to expand the car park together with £200,000 from LEADER and an addition £128,571 along with the £300,000 from the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund to improve the facilities that are currently available with the addition of public toilets, motorhome facilities, interpretation, visitor information and improved access to a wider public.
A John Muir Trust community project involving composting toilets and additional car parking at Blabheinn, Skye was another successful application.
Additional money has also been invested by the Council in the other iconic sites on Skye, including the Fairy Pools ( £100k from the Council and £200k from LEADER), Quiraing (£90k from the Council) and Neist Point (£65k from the Council)
Glenfinnan in Lochaber secured £269,906 of funding for additional parking to cater for 100 cars and 10 motorhomes and buses. This will improve the visitor experience to the large number of visitors attracted to the viaduct and steam-train after seeing the location featured in the popular, Harry Potter films.
The Glenfinnan project is still awaiting a decision from the LEADER to secure its match funding which is due to be announced on the 31st October.
Members agreed that the details of further projects would be shared with the Council’s Tourism Working Group prior to submission to a second round of the Rural Infrastructure Fund. It is anticipated that the Council will be submitting up to 20 Expressions of Interest although the final number of these may change if additional community projects are brought forward before the deadline.
Chair of the Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee, Councillor Allan Henderson welcomed the funding. He said: “£1.1 million is a significant amount of money towards these projects and the Council has also contributed over £600k investment to make these projects happen. This is good news for the Highlands and I would like to recognise the work of all the staff and community leaders who have driven these projects forward.
“Only this week, we have welcomed the fantastic news that the Highlands are in the Lonely Planet’s top ten list of places to visit. Our success in tourism can only go from strength to strength and funding like this will help to ease some of the pressures of increased visitor numbers.”
Full applications for the next round of funding will be submitted by the 31st January 2019 with the announcement expected around mid-March 2019. Five of the twenty projects are internal Highland Council projects with the rest being led by a community group, or other organisations.
£226,000 of the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund has also been announced for new paths linking car parks, visitor attractions and accommodation at Glenmore in the Cairngorms National Park. This is a CNP project.