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Beecraigs Visitor Centre is one of eleven projects that have been recommended for approval to receive cash from round four of the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund as part of Scotland’s drive for sustainable tourism.
The fund is managed by VisitScotland on behalf of the Scottish Government and was created to improve the quality of the visitor experience in rural areas that have faced pressure on their infrastructure due to the increase in 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. Improvements could take various forms including parking with EV charging points and e-bike facilities, campervan facilities – including disposal points – viewpoints and toilet provision.
Ivan McKee, business and tourism minister, said: “Scotland’s breathtaking natural scenery and rich historical sites attract many visitors and help the local economy. However, this can also put pressure on communities, services, transport and facilities - particularly in rural areas.
“The Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF) is dedicated to helping deal with increasing demand, driving sustainable tourism and increasing visitor experience in rural Scotland.
“This funding will help our tourism industry as it recovers by supporting the ongoing creation of much needed infrastructure such as new car parks, charging points for vehicles and e-bike facilities at some of our most iconic rural and natural attractions. This investment is crucial so that visitors from home and abroad can continue to enjoy our fantastic landscape, culture and hospitality for years to come in a sustainable way.”
The fund’s fourth round was open for applications from local authorities and national park authorities in partnership with their communities.
The applications recommended for approval include £167,000 to West Lothian Council to increase provision at Balvormie toilets, located at Beecraigs, with plans for six toilets and one unisex accessible toilet, as well as to aid the transition of Beecraigs Country Park towards a low carbon future.
Tom Conn, executive councillor for the environment at West Lothian Council, said: “We are delighted to receive funding from the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund which will help to improve local facilities within Beecraigs Country Park. We have seen an increase in the numbers of people visiting the park and the funding will go towards improving facilities within Beecraigs.”
Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland’s chief executive, added: “We all need to play our part in being responsible visitors and these improvement projects will ensure our visitor destinations remain sustainable for years to come.
“VisitScotland is committed to working with the industry and communities to create a long-lasting sustainable tourism destination which will protect the environment and benefit visitors and residents alike.”
Twenty-five applications were received as part of this round, with 11 local authorities having taken part.
Beecraigs Country Park is one of 11 projects recommended for approval by assessors, with other successful applications having been in the Highlands, Stirling, Argyll & Bute, Perth & Kinross and Moray.