Visitor Management Plan agreed for Highland
22nd March 2021
To meet the growth in visitors to the Highlands of Scotland, The Highland Council's Tourism Committee has agreed a Visitor Management Plan for 2021 which will be adapted to provide a 5-year plan for the future.
The Council will work with other agencies involved in tourism and visitor management to deliver the plan. A number of actions included in the plan which councillors have approved are:
£280,000 on road management and improvements;
£250,000 investment in parking management;
£300,000 for the provision of new seasonal access rangers;
£60,000 spend on public toilets
£180,000 on waste management (bins, litter and fly-tipping);
£200,000 on enhancing bus services; and
£125,000 on other initiatives and engagement with partners to improve visitor management in hotspots such as at Glenmore, Glencoe and the Glen Etive and Arisaig, Morar and Mallaig areas.
Councillors welcomed the wide range of 24 new infrastructure projects included in the plan across the region that will be ready for the 2021 season.
Included in the list of projects is the provision of new public toilets, motorhome waste disposal and additional parking at Storr.
Members welcomed the good progress being made on the provision of these new visitor facilities at Storr. The popular site attracts around 200,000 visitors a year who visit The Old Man of Storr and use the footpaths in this area of outstanding natural beauty.
To help accommodate the needs of visitors a new car park has been completed and a new toilet block and camper van waste disposal site are due for completion next month (April 2021). These new facilities follow on from previous works to provide an additional roadside lay-by constructed in 2019, and car parking for up to 140 vehicles.
Councillors noted that the introduction of car parking charges at this site has contributed to the Council's ability to provide effective visitor management facilities and opportunities in the area.
Councillors agreed that further opportunities for the delivery of new visitor management related car park improvements are moved forward at pace as part of The Highland Council’s agreed process for car park charging roll-out. These new opportunities will be discussed at Ward Business Meetings recognising the benefits to The Highland Council and local areas.
Chair of the Tourism Committee, Cllr Gordon Adam said: "Members are supportive of the delivery of the Council’s Visitor Management Plan and the roll out of the car parking projects across the region. Detailed proposals will be discussed at local level in Ward business meetings so that we can move quickly to welcome visitors to the region when lockdown restrictions are eased and throughout the coming season."
He added: "In the next few weeks, the Council will publish a simple guide for individuals and communities who want to set up safe stopping off places for campervans - known on the continent as ‘aires’. Councillors will also agree on how they should be branded. Officers are consulting with the Scottish Government so that small scale sites can be set up rapidly."
In tandem with the Visitor Management Plan, the Council is also developing a separate and complementary Tourism Infrastructure Plan which aims to identify the longer-term tourism infrastructure requirements of the region. Members noted the work in progress on this plan and welcomed the 12 successful applications which received just over £2.5 million awards in rounds 1 and 2 of the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund for tourism projects across the region and a further 6 approved projects in the 3rd round receiving £820,688 with one grant figure to be concluded.