Supporting visitor management in rural areas
Today I met with the Visitor Management Steering Group to discuss ongoing efforts to address some challenges that are arising due to a rise in visitors in rural areas.
As someone who lives in a rural constituency with an abundance of natural beauty spots, I know only too well that an influx of visitors and a lack of services can sometimes bring undesirable issues such as littering and antisocial behaviour. Scotland has world-leading legislation giving people rights to access our countryside but it’s important that these are exercised responsibly and with respect for others, for wildlife and for the land itself.
We are encouraging people to staycation this year and I have been clear that the Scottish Government will support rural communities as much as possible to cope with increased numbers looking to enjoy the best of what Scotland has to offer. We have already doubled the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund to £6.2 million and provided an additional £2.75 million for more seasonal rangers, temporary toilets, car parking and campervan facilities in our rural areas.
A lot of work has been taken forward already by the Visitor Management Steering Group and I commend them for their efforts. There has been a marked improvement compared to last year but we know some areas are still facing some difficulties. The extensive forward planning by this group has ensured rural beauty spots were better prepared for visitors this year and we will continue this collaborative effort.
Investing in visitor management and supporting our rural communities is a crucial part of sustainable tourism growth.
Kate Forbes, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy
The Visitor Management Steering Group consists of members from NatureScot, VisitScotland, Police Scotland, local authorities and the National Parks.