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Funds offered to rural tourism ventures


Popular series such as Outlander have prompted interest in film locations in Scotland

A new fund designed to help rural areas in Scotland invest in the quality of their tourism offering opens to applications today.

Administered by VisitScotland, the Scottish Government Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund will support sustainable, well planned, inspiring and collaborative infrastructure projects to enable more visitors to enjoy Scotland’s rural communities.

Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop last month announced three pilot projects on Skye and Orkney were to be among the first to benefit from support.

The Fairy Pools and Neist Point on Skye and the Standing Stones of Stenness on Orkney have received up to £480,000 towards the completion of urgent works ahead of the main tourist season.

Now, local authorities or National Park authorities have been invited to submit applications on behalf of their communities for a share of the £6m fund, which was announced by the First Minister last year and will run for two years.

It follows the growing popularity of Scotland’s scenic areas, as well as increasing interest in film tourism, and successful initiatives like North Coast 500, which has led to an influx of visitors to some of the country’s more remote destinations.

In order to secure funding, successful applications must demonstrate the following:

  • An enhanced visitor experience – through the provision of improved visitor facilities and infrastructure, particularly in areas that have experienced pressure from increased visitor numbers, leading to a positive impact on the local visitor economy.
  • A sustainable approach –  take a strategic and long term approach to planning, use of materials, impact on the environment and legacy implications of the asset created after project completion.
  • Community capacity building – creating more resilient communities, more able to cope with peak tourism demands and the creation of new local business opportunities.
  • Effective partnerships and collaboration – engagement with local community groups, destination organisations and tourism businesses, demonstrating how partnership working can increase awareness, advocacy and the quality of the final project.
  • Project viability and deliverability – provide a clear strategic rationale for their proposed activity as well as a delivery plan, timescales, details of experiences and a budget outline.

Ms Hyslop said: “Tourism is a vital part of our economy, bringing jobs and investment to many rural communities across the country. While visitor numbers increase, it is important communities have the infrastructure to support this.

“The pilot project completed at Neist Point has been very successful, providing additional parking for visitors to the area.

“This fund will help more rural communities improve visitor experiences to ensure our world class destinations can be enjoyed for generations to come.”

Riddell Graham, VisitScotland director of partnerships, added: “Many of Scotland’s rural areas are home to the breath-taking scenery that helps attract thousands of visitors to our shores every year. Tourism is vital to the Scottish economy, creating jobs and sustaining communities.

“This fund will help these communities improve their facilities and enhance their offering to welcome more visitors in the future. VisitScotland is committed to working closely with partners to identify appropriate infrastructure requirements to help improve the quality of the visitor experience.”

The deadline for final applications is 27 July 2018. For a full list of criteria, conditions and guidelines to apply to the Scottish Government Rural Tourism Infrastructure fund, go to from 5pm today (30 March) or contact

> Small grants of around £5,000 each will be made available to promote Scottish produce. Recipients will include local food and drink producers, and regional food and drink networks, who traditionally can find funding difficult to attract.  The fund will open for applications in May and be overseen by Scotland Food & Drink.

Speaking at the Scotland Food & Drink Annual Conference, Rural Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “It’s one of our key Programme for Government commitments to promote locally sourced, and locally produced food.

“The success of those producers then helps to bolster regional economies, and ensures that local food and drink continues to be produced in the area it originates from – which can be integral to a product’s identity.  

“Last year a was record one for Scottish exports – with more than £6 billion of Scottish food and drink consumed worldwide. Given the continuing lack of clarification from the UK Government regarding our position with those international trading partners, post-Brexit, it’s more important than ever that we ensure a robust market at home for our regional food and drink producers.”

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