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Highland Council to consider restrictions on alcohol consumption to combat 'selfish' tourists


By Scott Maclennan

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There have been complaints about gatherings on Dores beach.
There have been complaints about gatherings on Dores beach.

Highland Council’s tourism committee is to look at ways of cracking down on on antisocial behaviour in tourist hotspots.

Measures on alcohol consumption could target those heading to the countryside to party in certain locations, with Dores beach being a likely example.

Over the summer, dozens of young people sparked fury by leaving behind broken bottles and lighting fires as well as defecating in public areas.

It is among ideas to be discussed by the council's tourism committee tomorrow.

Problems posed by the region’s popularity as a tourist destination have come into sharp focus since the end of the lockdown. A wave of tourists visited the north during the summer, prompting some local anger at selfish or inconsiderate behaviour including littering of the countryside, human waste disposal and fire-lighting.

The debate is seen as a trade-off between quality of life for residents and the ongoing success of an industry that employs thousands each year and which the region remains highly dependent on.

The issue that has sparked the most heated debate is that of so-called dirty camping, but the council has admitted that it is in a legal bind because it has to uphold the right of access while recognising it is locals who have to shoulder the problems.

The principal officer for Europe, tourism and film, Colin Simpson, said: “There are many strongly-held views both from those that want to protect Scotland’s hard won and progressive rights of access, which the Highland Council also has a statutory duty to uphold, and from those individuals and communities that suffer the consequences of those who do not act responsibly.”

The local authority is looking at “approaches that target the secondary activities that might be causing the issues as opposed to simply trying to prevent wild camping”.

Mr Simpson said: “Restrictions on alcohol consumption in certain locations that can be the reason for larger groups ‘party camping.’ Alcohol consumption can also make it difficult to move on some people as they may be unfit to drive.”

The council is looking at the closely-linked issues of tourist infrastructure and visitor management – to manage visitors and limit the harm done, the region needs more infrastructure. Among the areas highlighted are Beauly’s coach parking and drop off, the Clava Cairns, Dores beach, Drumnadrochit, and Suidhe Chuimein viewpoint.

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