Local MSP Kenneth Gibson, reports on a new fund for local communities that are experiencing increased numbers of visitors.
Tourist sites in Scotland’s rural areas such as on the Isle of Arran can now apply for a share of £3 million of SNP Government funding aimed at helping tourist attractions and local communities deal with the impact of increased visitor numbers on local infrastructure by helping with improvements such as parking areas, visitor facilities and recycling points.
Across 10 local authorities and two national park authorities, 31 projects 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.
This latest round of funding will also draw upon lessons learned from the previous rounds, to achieve maximum effectiveness and fully realise the objectives of Scottish Ministers 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.
Examples of previous recipients of the funding include infrastructure improvements to Balmaha Visitor Centre on Loch Lomond, to enhance the quantity and quality of the toilet and litter provision, and the Gigha Camp and Motorhome Site for the provision of motorhome and camping facilities adjacent to the Gigha ferry terminal such as recycling and waste facilities, toilets, showers and laundry amenities for visitors.
The fund is administered by VisitScotland.
RTIF is open to local authorities and national park authorities to apply themselves or in partnership with their communities. This investment will help visitors from home and abroad continue to enjoy our fantastic landscape, culture and hospitality for years to come.
Tourism is a key component of Scotland’s economy, as demonstrated in its status as one of Scotland’s Growth Sectors in recent years, both in terms of value and jobs, attracting approximately 14.9 million overnight visitors, which generated £5.3 billion in visitor expenditure in 2017. Further to this, 124 million day trips were taken in Scotland with a total spend of £3.9 billion.
We should all be proud that Scotland’s breath-taking natural scenery and rich historical sites attract so many visitors and help local economies. However, this success can mean increased pressure on communities, services, transport and facilities – particularly in rural areas – and this vital funding can help to support and meet demand.
While only local authorities and national park authorities can apply for funding, Arran’s community groups and other agencies can apply to North Ayrshire Council if they have an eligible project.
Individual businesses are not eligible for RTIF.
The deadline for expression of interest applications is 22 January 2020.
To find out more, please email RTIF@visitscotland.com or visit the website