Tourism Investment on North Coast 500 approved by Highland councillor

John O’ Groat Journal and Caithness Courier – John Davidson

A new round of investment to improve facilities for tourist on the North Coast 500 and elsewhere in the Highlands was approved this week.

It will see £1.5 million spent on a range of measures designed to support tourism and protect the environment.

Meanwhile, Highland Council’s tourism committee, which met on Wednesday, also noted a strategic plan that looks to improvements that need to be made in the next two to five years.

The Strategic Tourism Infrastructure Development Plan (STIDP) aims to complement the Visitor Management Plan, which includes smaller scale and shorter-term objectives.

Those shorter-term measures will see investment in hotspots including Durness and Assynt in Sutherland, where remote communities have felt the brunt of a rapid increase in visitor numbers. Glenbrittle in Skye and the Road to the Isles in Lochaber will also be the focus of targeted spending.

The decision to approve the visitor plan will see significant investment in road and parking improvements and new signage to improve behaviour. It also pays for seasonal wardens and destination managers, who will work with stakeholders in new local forums.

Councillor Margaret Paterson said the main focus should be education. She said many visitors were “behaving worse than animals”.

Colin Howell, head of roads and infrastructure, said some of that education relies on national messaging. Mr Howell told members that VisitScotland’s new campaigns centre around a ‘tread lightly’ message.