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Scottish tourist strategy bangs drum for more resort development

Words: Roger Milne

Scottish councils have signed up to a new tourism blueprint for the country, which calls for hotel resorts to be considered for the country’s world heritage sites and national parks.

The framework strategy just published by VisitScotland warns that the industry is being held back by a lack of new accommodation in rural locations.

The organisation says this is proving a “barrier to growth” of tourism linked to activities like golf, walking, mountain biking and watching wildlife.

It identifies gaps in the market in so-called ‘honey pot’ locations in St Andrews, Inverness, Oban, Ullapool, Skye, the Outer Hebrides, Shetland and Perthshire. It highlights world heritage sites, nature reserves and national parks at Loch Lomond & the Trossachs and in the Cairngorms as “possible locations” for resorts.

Any new resorts would “need to be sensitively and sustainably located to benefit the visitor economy and avoid damaging the character of the asset”, stresses the organisation.

The document highlights that Scotland’s tourism industry stands to benefit from capital investments (many transport-related projects) of over £16 billion in the next three years.

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said: “The visitor economy in Scotland supports many jobs across the country and is often the cornerstone of local economies. Realising its growth potential to 2020 through the planning system is an important opportunity to grasp, especially in our challenging economic climate.

“We are excited by the level of investment in Scotland’s tourism future and aim to ensure this close working between local authorities and planning departments continues, creating real opportunities and benefits for many years to come.”

VisitScotland says the strategy would “help inform the investment programmes of public agencies and infrastructure providers, as well as shaping planning policy for the Scottish planning system to realise development opportunities to 2020”.

Cabinet secretary for tourism Fiona Hyslop said the document would “provide an important point of guidance for development planning authorities to help secure growth”.

The framework can be downloaded here.

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