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Flush of success for Highland toilet facilities as North Coast 500 stops pledged upgrade funding

By Calum MacLeod

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Kinlochewe's Community Out West Trust has taken over the village toilets to ensure the facility remains available for locals and North Coast 500 tourists and other visitors.
Kinlochewe's Community Out West Trust has taken over the village toilets to ensure the facility remains available for locals and North Coast 500 tourists and other visitors.

Visitors to Ross-shire and Sutherland communities on the world famous North Coast 500 driving route will be able to look forward to more comfortable comfort stops as part of a £3 million nationwide upgrade of Scotland's tourism facilities.

Kinlochewe Tourist Facilities, a partnership between Highland Council and Kinlochewe's Community Out West Trust has been awarded funding to provide new carbon neutral toilets and shower facilities, as well as a waste disposal facility adjacent to Kinlochewe River.

The exact amount has still to be confirmed.

the second phase of Assynt's Cludgie Project, to create a much-needed motorhome/campervan waste disposal service and fresh water provision at Assynt Leisure Centre carpark, is to receive £102,345.

They are among 13 project across the country which have been recommended for approval – subject to conditions –to receive cash from round three of the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF).

Managed by VisitScotland on behalf of the Scottish Government, the RTIF was created to improve the quality of the visitor experience in rural parts of Scotland that have faced pressure on their infrastructure due to increased visitor numbers.

It aims to reduce the impact of visitor numbers on local communities and facilities and create a more collaborative and sustainable approach to infrastructure provision and long-term maintenance of local facilities for the benefit of communities, when it is safe to welcome back visitors.

Round three was open for applications from local authorities and National Park authorities, in partnership with their communities, and is aimed at funding infrastructure improvements such as parking, campervan facilities, including disposal points, viewpoints and toilet provision.

A total of 66 expressions of interest were initially made when round three funding was announced. Of these, 36 applications were submitted and 13 of these recommended for funding approval.

Round three applications recommended for approval include:

Other awards in the Highland area include £192,000 towards the Ardnamurchan Lighthouse Project following the transfer by Highland Council of Scotland's most Westerly mainland lighthouse to the community group, £151,343 for improvements to the Photographers Knoll footpath at the Old Man of Storr on Skye, and £375,000 to address increasing visitor pressure in Glencoe and Glen Etive through improved visitor infrastructure such as better car parking provision, paths and visitor management measures.

VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead.
VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead.

Scotland's tourism minister and Inverness and Nairn MSP Fergus Ewing said: “While the tourism industry is currently halted due to the national lockdown and the need to keep supressing coronavirus, it’s essential we continue supporting our tourism businesses, especially in rural and remote areas, so they are in the best position possible for welcoming visitors again when conditions allow.

“The Rural Tourism and Infrastructure Fund is key to supporting critical tourism projects in our more remote areas. 13 projects will get support in this latest round of funding, improving visitor facilities and enhancing the visitor experience.”

Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland's chief executive, added: “I am delighted to announce these 13 projects which have been recommended for approval for RTIF funding. It is so important that we support work that aims to improve visitor facilities and the visitor experience, particularly when the tourism, hospitality and events industries remain closed under the current restrictions.

“We all need to play our part in being responsible visitors and improvement works like these are crucial to ensuring our visitor destinations remain sustainable for years to come. This funding will help local communities improve their facilities, as well as enhancing the visitor experience both for now and in the future when conditions are right and it is safe to do so.

“Tourism is a force for good and if managed responsibly, sustains communities in every corner of Scotland, creates jobs, tackles depopulation and improves the wellbeing of everyone who experiences it. We believe this fund is helping to ensure that the tourism infrastructure for visitors meets current and future demand.”

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