There’s still a chance for projects in the Outer Hebrides to benefit from the Scottish Government’s new Rural Tourism Fund as Round Two closes on October 31.

Around £3 million from the first round of the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF) is already being shared among 18 projects across Scotland to help cope with growing visitor numbers. These include the Tourism Outer Hebrides 2020 project which has been awarded more than £240,000.

Other projects include:

  • £300,000 for new toilet and motorhome facilities at the Old Man of Storr, Skye
  • £269,906 for additional parking for 100 cars and 10 motorhomes at Glenfinnan Viaduct
  • £260,000 for improvements to toilets along west Loch Lomond at Luss, Tarbet and Inveruglas
  • £226,000 for new paths linking car parks, visitor attractions and accommodation at the Cairngorms National Park
  • £58,000 for toilets and other visitor facilities at the Otter Pools in Dumfries and Galloway
  • £131,660 for a parking hub at the village of Hoswick in Shetland

Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop announced the funding on a visit to Glenfinnan Viaduct, which has seen an influx of visitors since featuring in the Harry Potter films.

She said: “The growing popularity of our stunning natural scenery and rich historical sites is great for bringing jobs and investment to our communities but can also put pressure on communities, services, transport and facilities - particularly in rural areas.

“This funding will help our industry keep up with the tourism boom by supporting the creation of much needed infrastructure such as new pathways, car parks and facilities at some of our most iconic rural and natural attractions. 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.”

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan welcomed the announcement that the Tourism Outer Hebrides 2020 project has been awarded more than £240,000 from Round 1 of the Rural Tourism Fund.

The project will develop an island-wide network of facilities and infrastructure to improve visitor experience, including car parks, campervan service points, electrical hook up points and signage.

The £6 million Rural Tourism Fund was announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in October of 2017 in response to the tourism boom across rural Scotland.

Funds will be invested over the course of two years, 2018/19 and 2019/20, to support a wide range of improvement projects – such as parking, camping facilities, recycling points and footpath access.

Alasdair Allan said: “Tourism has become more and more important to the economy of the islands over the years. However, we need the proper infrastructure in order to sustain this and cope with increasing tourist numbers.

“We should not be afraid to remind ourselves that we live in one of the most spectacular places in the world, and this new support will hopefully enhance what will already be an incredible experience for visitors to the islands.

“Round 2 is still open for applications with the closing date for expressions of interest on 31 October. I would urge any local groups with ideas for projects to express their interest before this date.”

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has also welcomed the announcement from Scottish Government awarding £243,000 from the RTIF, matching the Comhairle’s commitment to funding of up to £300,000 to develop tourism infrastructure in the Outer Hebrides.

Projects that will be supported in this first round of RTIF funding include:

  • Camper Van facilities
  • Car & bus parking/Scenic laybys
  • Recycling banks
  • Improved Signage

Councillor Donald Crichton said:  “I welcome this announcement from Scottish Government investing £243,000 and am pleased the Comhairle has taken the lead role in securing this additional investment in our tourism infrastructure.

"The Comhairle, having earlier this year committed to investing up to £300,000 in our tourism-related infrastructure, sees the value in this sector.

"Tourism is a vital part of our island economy, providing valuable jobs across sectors such as food and drink, construction and transportation. This investment by the Comhairle and Scottish Government will help ensure that the industry develops sustainably to help ensure its continued success."

More about Tourism Outer Hebrides 2020 is available here:

 https://www.visitouterhebrides.co.uk/dbimgs/TH2020%20Strategy%20-%20Final%20-%20Aug%202015(1).pdf

(Additional content from CnES has been added to this release since it was first published)