Tourist trail between national parks launched in heart of Scotland

A 200-mile trail linking Scotland's national parks has been launched to encourage more tourists on foot, bikes and cars to the heart of Scotland.

The trail stretches from Loch Lomond to the Cairngorms (pictured).

The Heart 200 forms a route between Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, and the Cairngorms and aims to stem the decline of tourists visiting the region.

Promoters of the circular route, which also includes Perth and Stirling, say there has been a drop in visitor numbers of 17% since 2011 and hope that the "leisurely journey through the stunning heart of Scotland" will attract more tourists.

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A website has also been launched with an online tourist guide and planner featuring hundreds of attractions in the area, accessible by public roads, within the 200-mile route.

Robert Cairns, managing director of Heart 200 and owner of the Fortingall Hotel near Aberfeldy, said: "With visitor numbers declining year on year in this region for several years now, Heart 200 has been designed to encourage tourism back into the heart of Scotland.

"We aim to offer visitors a unique holiday experience; a leisurely journey through the stunning heart of Scotland, giving visitors the option of staying in the area for as long as possible.

"We are delighted to have officially launched our website, designed to be a go-to resource for those who are looking to holiday within the vicinity of Heart 200.

"The website is full of ideas for planning a holiday, providing suggested itineraries and tours and highlighting the numerous attractions and places to stay, eat and spend time."

Caroline Warburton, VisitScotland's regional leadership director, said: "Spanning Perthshire, Stirling and Scotland's two National Parks, the Heart 200 route is an exciting initiative which takes in some of the country's best assets.

"New ideas like this are an excellent example of innovation within Scotland's tourism industry to keep up with ever-changing consumer demands and ensure visitors continue to have memorable experiences.

"These visitors represent a major benefit to areas across Scotland. Tourism is more than a holiday experience, it is the heartbeat of the Scottish economy and touches every community, generating income, jobs and social change."

Leader of Perth and Kinross Council Murray Lyle said: "Perth and Kinross Council is delighted to support the creation of Heart 200, a new and exciting initiative which will bring a welcome and significant increase in tourist numbers and a great boost to the local economy."