The tourist industry in the Western Isles has a chance to win government funding for projects to assist local visitor services – but it has less than three weeks to think them up! (as of Saturday April 7, 2018).

The types of projects which can be supported include:

  • Parking and scenic lay-bys
  • Camping facilities
  • Waste disposal points (especially for camper vans)
  • Toilet provision
  • Essential improvement works to paths (where they alleviate visitor pressures)
  • Recycling points

The support comes from the Scottish Government’s £6million Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF), formally launched on Friday 30 March.

The Fund is administered by VisitScotland, with applications submitted by local or National Park authorities.

The RTIF aims to support collaborative projects that focus on improving the visitor experience in rural areas that have faced pressure on their infrastructure or negative impacts on communities due to significant increases in visitor numbers.

The trade group Outer Hebrides Tourism is telling members: “This is an excellent opportunity to improve the experience for our visitors and alleviate some of the problems we encountered last summer.

“We would like you to guide us by highlighting the most severe pressure points and areas which have suffered a negative impact.

“We also need your input as to what the solutions might be. The fund is limited - with a maximum award of £300k - so we need to think creatively and work together across the tourism, public and private sectors.

“Please email Mairi at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with suggestions.”

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar will be working in partnership with the Tourism Outer Hebrides 2020 Leadership Group - which comprises representatives of VisitScotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Outer Hebrides Tourism - to develop evaluation criteria to assess potential projects in order to ensure that a robust application is submitted and the maximum benefit is derived from any funding approval.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar intends to submit an Outer Hebrides wide application on behalf of the tourism sector. The deadline for the initial expression of interest is 27 April 2018. Full applications are to be submitted by 27 July 2018.

Councillor Donald Crichton, Chairman of the Sustainable Development Committee, said: “This is an excellent opportunity to improve the experience for our visitors and alleviate some of the problems we encountered last summer. The Comhairle is looking for community input to highlight the most severe pressure points and areas which have suffered a negative impact.

“We also need input as to what the solutions might be. The fund is limited - with a maximum award of £300,000- so we need to think creatively and work together across the tourism, public and private sectors.

“We will be working in collaboration with the Tourism Outer Hebrides 2020 Leadership Group to ensure that a robust application is submitted and the maximum benefit is derived from any funding approval.”

Further information on the RTIF can be accessed here - http://www.visitscotland.org/business_support/advice_materials/funding_opportunities/rural_tourism_infrastructure.aspx