Highland Council considers action plans to tackle littering, wild camping and toileting in tourism hotspots

The Press and Journal – Nicola Sinclair

Councillors will tomorrow consider detailed plans to tackle tourism in four visitor hotspots in the Highlands

The hotspots include Durness, Glenbrittle, Assynt and the Road to the Isles. The council’s access rangers say these areas are struggling to cope with the explosion in visitor numbers since the pandemic. 

The Highlands attracted 2.9 million overnight visitors in 2019 and 9.6 million day trips. These visitors added £1.6 billion to the local economy.

However, these figures are pre-pandemic, and the growth in the staycation marketsuggests the real totals will be much higher.

Take Durness in north-west Sutherland, for instance. The tiny village has a population of just 250. Yet that population swells to up to 1,000 every night in the summer.

Larger tourist areas have the infrastructure to cope, for the most part. That’s not the case for the rural areas on the NC500.

With that in mind, Highland Council’s seasonal access rangers have compiled a detailed 168-page report for tomorrow’s meeting of the tourism committee.

The report sets out common challenges across the four hot spots, and a range of ideas to get to grips with tourism.

While the report offers specific action points for each area, the themes are common across all four. These are traffic congestion and verge parking, informal overnight camping, wild fires, littering, toileting and antisocial behaviour, to name a few.

Highland Council says irresponsible tourism is damaging fragile ecosystems and threatening the livelihood of local farmers and crofters. It’s no fun for the tourists either.