Business owners are urging council chiefs not to turn Auchterarder into a ghost town when thousands of people descend on Gleneagles for an international golf tournament.
The 2019 Solheim Cup is expected to attract more than 30,000 spectators each day, as well as around 5,000 staff and journalists from around the globe.
Locals say visitors have been put off venturing into Auchterarder during major events in recent years due to local road closures and scaremongering about traffic chaos.
Perth and Kinross Council and Transport Scotland held a joint public meeting on Monday to allow residents to raise their concerns about traffic management during the event, which will see Europe’s finest female golfers face-off against the USA in September.
Maggie Robin, owner of ladies’ formalwear shop Bear Necessities, said tourists were put off visiting Auchterarder during the 2014 Ryder Cup, leaving the town quieter than usual despite more than 50,000 people flooding Gleneagles.
“Auchterarder will be open for business during the Solheim Cup but if it is not handled right it will just shut us down again,” she said.
“When the Ryder Cup was on we had practically no trade because people had been put into a panic and told they would never get parked and there would be constant jams, which wasn’t the case at all.
“People come for the golf, they don’t come to shop, but with so many extra people in the area it would be crazy not to want to promote the town.
“I just want people to know that Auchterarder is open for business and that we want to welcome visitors but we haven’t been considered in previous plans, in fact I would say local businesses have been disregarded.”
The only road closure will be the A823, around the venue and park and rides facilities will be set up in Stirling and Perth’s McDiarmid Park.
Karen Howie, owner of Forget-Me-Not Fashions, called for closures to be kept to a minimum, to encourage people to venture into the town.
“When they have closed the roads for other big events it has been really damaging for businesses,” she said.
“It’s a shame for local businesses who don’t get the benefit of all the extra people in the area. We want to bring people into the town, not send them away.”
A statement from Auchterarder Business Network said the town had “little or no benefit” from the Ryder Cup.
“Spectators were transported in from park and ride areas or directly from the train station,” it said.
“Auchterarder businesses saw little or no benefit from the event itself and lost quite substantially as people who would normally have visited stayed away thinking the town would be busy.
“Initially it was believed that spectators would be able to visit the town throughout their day at the event but this proved not to be so. It is to be hoped that these conditions will not be repeated at the Solheim Cup.
“The Auchterarder community and businesses are fully supportive of these high profile events being held at the Gleneagles Hotel. However, when they end up suffering as those around them profit, this is not a sustainable method of working.”
This comes just weeks after Perth and Kinross Council was criticised for its “over the top” travel arrangements for the BBC’s Biggest Weekend festival at Scone Palace.
The council, Transport Scotland, Gleneagles Hotel and tournament organisers are said to be working to ensure “minimum disruption” to residents and businesses.
Council leader Murray Lyle said: “The Solheim Cup is estimated to bring £15 to 20 million in economic benefits.
“Drawing on the experience of the 2014 Ryder Cup, we want to involve local communities as early as possible in planning for a successful event.”