The fund has been set up by Crown Estate Scotland, which manages the country’s seabed and around half of its foreshore, to promote sustainable development of the marine tourism sector.
It will also help economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic by helping coastal communities expand their ability to manage an increase in visitors to their area, including creation of new shore-based and harbour facilities.
The new initiative is the first of three challenge investment funds set to be launched by Crown Estate Scotland, with schemes for local partnerships and innovation with natural resources to follow.
Together the funds will total approximately £9 million and will take the form of direct commercial investments by Crown Estate Scotland.
The organisation has stressed its commitment to finding new and innovative ways to support the coastal economy, especially after what has been a particularly difficult time for communities dependent on visitors.
Grants of £350,000 to £750,000 are available through the scheme, to applicants that can demonstrate their project’s ability to make a positive impact on boat-based tourism and have a strong track record of partnership working.
Andy Wells, director of property for Crown Estate Scotland, said: “People come from all over the world to enjoy Scotland’s seas and coastline, and we want to do all we can to help Scotland’s coastal communities fully benefit from a revived tourism sector.”
Scottish tourism minister Ivan McKee said: “Many of these communities have been strongly impacted by the pandemic and this initiative will support long-term economic recovery of coastal communities, increasing opportunities for enhanced visitor spend.
“As we begin to lift restrictions we are determined to do all we can to further develop sustainable tourism growth in Scotland.”
Alan Rankin, chief executive of Sail Scotland, added: “The fund has come at a critical time for the sector.
“Marine Tourism will play a key role in the sustainable recovery of the national economy and is recognised as the life blood of many rural coastal and island communities.
“This specific fund is most welcome and will drive vital investment into infrastructure and help build the quality of the world-renowned boating and marine experiences around our shores.”