Aberdeenshire gearing up for another influx of tourists

With the wintry weather – hopefully – coming to an end, Aberdeenshire is once again looking forward to welcoming an influx of visitors to its countryside and coastline.
Last year there were a number of issues reported at many of our beautiful locations including damaging fires.Last year there were a number of issues reported at many of our beautiful locations including damaging fires.
Last year there were a number of issues reported at many of our beautiful locations including damaging fires.

Having been battered by a number of damaging storms in the early part of 2024, the region will be enjoying a bit of respite as the Spring and summer months beckon, with residents and visitors eager to get out into the fresh air and enjoy the wealth of sights, scenes and activities the region has to offer.

A strong tourist season is essential for our villages, towns and rural communities to thrive – and provides a much-needed boost for our hard-working businesses.

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A mecca for local people and visitors alike, Aberdeenshire relies on a strong tourism strategy to support many of its communities and businesses.

During recent years, despite the obvious impact of the Covid pandemic, it’s been great so see such strong visitor numbers enjoying the services our communities continue to offer as they support our local shops and services.

It’s also been heartening so see the vast majority of visitors showing respect for the great outdoors and ensuring our parks, forests and beaches were kept in tip-top condition.

However, last year there were again a number of issues reported at many of our beautiful locations – most notably damaging fires, littering, dirty camping and public toileting.

From the stunning sandy shores at Balmedie Country Park to gorgeous Glen Muick in the Cairngorms National Park, these tourist hotspots suffered unnecessary damage.

Looking ahead to the forthcoming season, Aberdeenshire Council is once again joining forces with Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and a host of other local partners in a bid to protect the region and ensure everyone can enjoy a fantastic stay in the north-east.

Leader of Aberdeenshire Council, Cllr Gillian Owen, said: “Our region boasts some of the finest landscapes, stunning beaches, historic castles, top-class golf courses, wonderful food and drink offerings, and world-renowned attractions that Scotland has to offer and we welcome tourists from across the country and beyond with open arms. We want everyone to enjoy our beautiful scenery and attractions, but of course that comes with the need for everyone to treat Aberdeenshire with respect. Through engagement with communities and those invaluable local volunteer teams who continue to help us keep areas clean and tidy, council teams are busy preparing our country parks, beaches and other attractions to ensure that the facilities are in place to welcome visitors and make their stay as pleasant as possible.

Cllr Alan Turner, chair of the Infrastructure Services Committee, added: “We are so grateful that the majority of visitors treat our region with the respect it deserves, but sadly we saw once again last year that some minority elements seem intent on damaging our fragile environment. We don’t want to see repeats of fire-blackened woodlands and dunes habitats damaged by campfires or barbecues nor do we want to see litter blighting our countryside and coastline. Keeping Aberdeenshire litter free requires us all to work together, so whether you are using our parks, countryside or our beaches, the message remains the same: please take your litter home with you.”

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In a bid to prevent sites exceeding capacity and traffic congestion, Aberdeenshire Council Ranger Service is once again encouraging people to have a Plan B when visiting the countryside.

The Ranger Service is also reminding us all that the right to countryside access is only applicable when visitors behave responsibly. This is a very busy time for farmers and land managers with lambing continuing to take place across Aberdeenshire and preparations for calving and sowing well underway. We are also about to enter bird nesting season, wildlife which is particularly suspectable to disturbance.

If you are visiting our countryside with a dog it must be under proper control at all times. In areas where there is livestock or ground nesting birds, this means the dog should be on a short lead or close at heel, and you should not enter fields where there is livestock.

Dogs not under proper control can kill or injure livestock or wildlife causing emotional distress for those who have to deal with the aftermath. It’s therefore important that visitors follow reasonable requests and signage and respect those who live and work in our countryside.

When you are out you should not enter farmyards and please stay clear of farm machinery.

If an area feels too busy, move on to your Plan B site.

Echoing messages from many groups including NatureScot and the Cairngorms National Park Authority, our key message remains the same:

Take home or bin your waste – Please ensure you dispose of all litter and bagged dog waste in our bins or, if they are full, take your waste home

Plan ahead – Some hotspots could be busy and car parks will undoubtedly fill up quickly – so check the relevant website and be prepared to move to your Plan B site

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Be responsible – Take extra care to follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, especially on farmland. For more details on the code please visit www.outdooraccess-scotland.scot

Meanwhile, toilets operated by Aberdeenshire Council and community groups will be opened from April to September from 8am-8pm. You can find out where they are at www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/leisure-sport-and-culture/aberdeenshire-tourist-and-visitor-information/public-toilets/

Key messages

Stay safe and camp responsibly

Aberdeenshire is a beautiful place and we can all do our bit to help look after it, by following the Scottish Outdoor Access Code

If you are going wild camping, make sure you have as little impact on our stunning countryside as possible and still have a great time.

Wild camping is discrete, considerate of other visitors and nature. It is lightweight, in small tents for up to three nights only. Groups of tents, large tents or campervans are not wildcampers and should use designated campsites.

You must be responsible when lighting a campfire or barbecue. Never light a fire in forests, woodlands, in peaty soil, farmland, in a cultural heritage site or near a building. Never light a fire anywhere in our countryside during a prolonged dry period or high fire risk.

- Take your litter home with you – and that includes used toilet paper and sanitary items

- If you need the toilet and there isn’t one nearby please ensure you go at least 30 metres away from open water, people or buildings

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- Bury your waste and replace the turf or bring resealable bags or containers and take your waste away with you

- Use a stove for outdoor cooking

- Please be aware that ticks - which can carry Lyme disease - are present in the countryside especially during the Spring and summer months

Motorhomes and campervans

Travelling and staying in a motorhome or campervan is one of the most flexible ways to get about and enjoy Aberdeenshire - allowing you to explore and stay in different places.

Whether you are an experienced motorhome user or hiring a vehicle for the first time, here are some Do’s and Don’ts to help you plan and have a great visit to the region


Plan ahead - popular places are likely to get busy especially at weekends and holidays - so it’s best to book in advance where you can

Use designated campsites wherever possible – this helps protect the environment and supports local businesses too

Always use proper facilities to dispose of chemical waste and litter. If there aren’t facilities where you are, hold on to your waste and rubbish until you find a suitable point

Support local businesses – you can help small and local businesses get back on their feet by using campsites, visiting local cafés, restaurants and shops

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Not every location you visit will have a bin to put your litter in, so please carry it with you until you find a suitable place - if bins are full when you arrive, don’t leave them next to the bin even if others have

Park your vehicle responsibly at all times – never block gates, access routes or other vehicles

It’s great to take in all the sights when moving around Aberdeenshire but be aware if traffic is starting to build up behind you. Be prepared to pull over in laybys or passing places to let other vehicles go on their journeys, then continue to enjoy yours


Park overnight in passing places – these are a crucial part of our roads network and required to allow the free flow of traffic

Use laybys for extended stays – these are essential parts of the road network allowing drivers to take a break on journeys and for short overnight rest stops only