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Tourism hotspots across Courier country to share funding windfall for infrastructure improvements

St Cyrus beach
St Cyrus beach

Tourist sites throughout Tayside and Fife are to share part of a £3 million windfall to help make the great outdoors more attractive to visitors.

St Cyrus National Nature Reserve will receive just over £200,000 to improve parking at the internationally-renowned attraction close to the Angus border.

In Fife, £375,000 will go towards an infrastructure partnership project which will boost tourism facilities and electric vehicle charging provision for visitors.

The Fife Coastal Path.

And more than £300,000 is to be given to Perth and Kinross Council to upgrade facilities for Loch Leven Heritage trail users.

The spend is part of a drive to help popular spots cope with increasing visitor numbers.

Last summer saw huge numbers take advantage of the relaxation of lockdown and glorious weather.

But the popularity of the great outdoors led to problems of overflowing car parks, choked rural roads and complaints over littering and so-called dirty camping.

At St Cyrus, £201,925 will be used by Aberdeenshire Council and NatureScot to provide 40 extra parking spaces for cars and motorhomes.

The project includes refurbishment of the toilets to include a changing places standard toilet, and provision of additional cycling racks, EV charge points and a chemical disposal point.

Loch Leven

Ben Ross, NatureScot head of nature reserves said: “St Cyrus is one of the richest and most diverse National Nature Reserves in Britain so it is no surprise that it is extremely popular with visitors.

“Like many of our beauty spots, last year saw an increase in the number of people coming to the reserve to enjoy the great outdoors.

“This funding will help to ensure the facilities at St Cyrus are better able to meet that increased demand in future, helping more people to connect with nature at this special place.”

The Fife scheme is a partnership initiative between Fife Council and Fife Countryside Trust.

The money will be used to provide a network of parking, toilets, interpretative and renewable energy points for EV and EB charging, serving the Fife coastal path, the Pilgrims Way and Fife 191 driving route.

A yet-to-be confirmed sum will also be spend on toilet provision improvements in Glenshee.

More than a dozen popular tourist sites across Scotland have been recommended to receive cash from the latest round of the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF).

It is managed by VisitScotland on behalf of the Scottish Government.

The RTIF was created to help areas which have faced infrastructure pressures due to increasing numbers of visitors.

It aims to reduce the impact on local communities and facilities and create a more collaborative and sustainable approach to infrastructure provision.

The third round funding programme was opened to applications from councils and National Park authorities, in partnership with their communities.

It will also include £375,000 for the Trossachs visitor management project and a similar sum to tackle visitor pressures in Glencoe and Glen Etive.

The Courier Country projects were selected from more than 66 expressions of interest led to 36 funding bids.

Tourism secretary Fergus Ewing said: “While the tourism industry is currently halted due to the national lockdown and the need to keep supressing coronavirus, it’s essential we continue supporting our tourism businesses, especially in rural and remote areas, so they are in the best position possible for welcoming visitors again when conditions allow.”

VisitScotland chief executive, Malcolm Roughead said:  “We all need to play our part in being responsible visitors and improvement works like these are crucial to ensuring our visitor destinations remain sustainable for years to come.

“Tourism is a force for good and if managed responsibly, sustains communities in every corner of Scotland, creates jobs, tackles depopulation and improves the wellbeing of everyone who experiences it.”