Scotland’s tourism ‘pressure points’ to be reviewed

Scotland’s national tourism agency is carrying out a country-wide review of infrastructure amid growing fears that areas like Skye, Glenfinnan and the North Coast 500 route are being swamped with visitors, The Scotsman can reveal.

Scotland’s national tourism agency is carrying out a country-wide review of infrastructure amid growing fears that areas like Skye, Glenfinnan and the North Coast 500 route are being swamped with visitors, The Scotsman can reveal.

Growing numbers of complaints about overcrowding, dangerous driving and a lack of facilities have prompted VisitScotland’s rethink after one of the busiest ever summers for some of the nation’s most remote areas.

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It is set to refocus its marketing efforts on lesser known parts of the country and encourage visitors to holiday in Scotland outwith the current peak periods in a bid to spread the benefits of the 
£11 billion industry.

VisitScotland is examining every part of the country to assess whether they are geared up to cater for current and future demand. However senior officials say the industry will need “a sensitive touch” over the next few years to ensure new facilities do not “destroy the fabric or essence of” significant sites.

A bid to ease “pressure points” is likely to see new campaigns showcasing different parts of the country at different times of the year to take visitors “off the regular beaten path”.

A spokeswoman for VisitScotland said: “It’s our role to market Scotland – in its entirety – to the world, and we will continue to do this, however we’re aware of the pressure points. We’re looking at ways we can ensure visitors go to different parts of the country at different times of the year. We’re in constant communication with our industry partners and staff on the ground to gain insight on which areas of the country may be under more pressure than others.

“We also work with local authorities to ensure there is significant infrastructure investment happening throughout the country. Scotland’s reputation as a quality destination relies on continued investment and innovation to ensure current provision meets future demand.

“We need to be careful we don’t overplay busy times of the year as a trend which will put off future visitors. We also have to ensure any infrastructure needs do not destroy the fabric or essence of the historic or culturally significant sites that are under pressure. This requires a sensitive touch working with businesses, councils and communities to find solutions that suit everyone’s needs.”

VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead said: “There’s no doubt that there are parts of Scotland where we need to have a look at how we ensure the infrastructure meets current and future demand. This includes looking at how we can share the tourism windfall with lesser known parts of Scotland or outwith peak times.

“Tourism is the heartbeat of the economy and is one of its most sustainable and enduring industries.

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“We need to continue to work in collaboration to ensure visitors see us at our best throughout the year.”