SCOTLAND’S answer to America’s Route 66, the North Coast 500 (NC500) tourist trail, needs strong co-ordinated support from the public sector to ensure its long-term sustainability.
Experiences of the initiative should also be shared around the country looking to develop similar projects.
These are the messages sent out by Scotland’s cabinet secretary for culture, tourism and external affairs Fiona Hyslop during a visit to Inverness.
Ms Hyslop attended a meeting of the NC500 working group, launched in 2015, which includes officials from public sector bodies across the north who have joined forces to develop a support plan for the route.
A report commissioned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise estimated it attracted 29,000 visitors and £9 million additional spend in its first year.
The study highlights challenges to ensure long-term success of the route including maintaining the condition of roads, ensuring sufficient parking, waste facilities and public toilets, and continued efforts to encourage better driving.
Ms Hyslop said: “The NC500 is an excellent example of an innovative project, driven by industry, that is boosting the tourism economy in the Highlands. The role of public sector bodies in ensuring the longer term sustainability of the route is crucial.”