Fife is preparing for a summer surge in tourists with a £2 million investment in vital visitor facilities.
Public toilets, car parking, caravan sites and access will all be improved ahead of a predicted influx of visitors once lockdown eases.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned against travelling abroad this summer but suggested staycations may be possible.
This could mean an increase in holiday-makers visiting Fife’s tourism hotspots if Covid-19 restrictions allow.
Fife Council is keen to welcome visitors once the pandemic has eased and case numbers fall.
But members want to avoid a repeat of last summer when some beauty spots were swamped with visitors.
Tourists flocked to the East Neuk and St Andrews, while parks, forests and beaches across Fife were also packed.
This led to fears over a lack of social distancing and the potential to spread the virus.
Roads became blocked and there were complaints about a lack of parking, toilets and other facilities in areas unprepared for the influx.
The council has now pledged to invest £2.1 million in tourism and community services as part of it’s 2021/22 budget.
Toilets and car parking
Toilets at key sites will be renewed or refurbished depending on their condition.
Access and car parking will be improved and more sites for caravans and mobile homes introduced.
The upgrades will take place at popular attractions across Fife, including Lochore Meadows and Dunfermline Glen.
Tourism convener Altany Craik hopes much of the work will be complete before the peak visitor season.
“We’re going to have a much heavier wave of people coming to Fife than ever this year because they can’t go to Spain or wherever,” he said.
“We’re looking at things like what toilet facilities we have and what we need.
“We’ll be supporting the coastal path communities as well as other areas.
“We know that it can get difficult in communities like Anstruther and Elie and we’ll be able to do something about it by this summer.”
The Labour councillor said the move would also support the Fife economy given 9,500 jobs rely on tourism.
We’ll be supporting the coastal path communities as well as other areas.
Councillor Altany Craik.
“It’s all very well people coming here but if we’ve nowhere for them to spend their money it becomes difficult,” he said.
“A lot of businesses are trying to come back out of lockdown and we need to make sure they get the benefit of an increase in visitors.
“We need to make sure the infrastructure is there.
“We now have resources to invest and we will be better.”
‘Even more popular this summer’
East Neuk councillor Bill Porteous expressed alarm last summer after roads became clogged and camper vans pitched up at beauty spots.
Sewage systems also backed up in some areas due to demand from wild campers.
In Elie, a makeshift car park was opened in a field to cope with numbers.
The Liberal Democrat councillor said that while visitors were very welcome, improvements were needed.
“With Covid-19 restrictions on foreign travel it was obvious that our welcoming and beautiful area of East Neuk and Landward would become very popular,” he said.
“They will probably be even more popular this summer because so many people have had the vaccine.
“Fife Council has now recognised this and I’ve been assured work will happen quickly.”
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