Visitor plan for 2022 agreed by Highland councillors
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A new visitor management plan for 2022 has been agreed by Highland Council's tourism committee.
The plan will see further cash for roads, rangers and waste management, among a number of priorities to support a rise in visitor numbers to the region.
At Monday's meeting, it was agreed to deliver the draft visitor management plan and members also gave their backing to a number of other ongoing projects, including the reopening of public toilets in Wick.
Cllr Gordon Adam, chairman of the tourism committee, said: “Members are supportive of the delivery of the council’s draft visitor management plan 2022 and the roll out of the projects across the region.
“Tourism is vital to the economic recovery of the Highlands. Tourism-related jobs can represent up to 43 per cent of the workforce in some areas across Highland and it is really important that we continue to strive to improve infrastructure and how we manage the growth in visitor numbers in Highland communities.
"Significant data gathering has been collated throughout the busy 2021 season, the useful information has been carefully considered by members and officers in order to learn from last year and to prioritise the key improvements for the 2022 visitor management plan.”
Council members and officers attended a workshop on November 5 to help define the range of activities and money required for the new plan. Highland Council says the workshop allowed members to consider the feedback and evidence gathered and give their views on what the priorities might be before officers produced the draft plan.
The council will now work with other agencies involved in tourism and visitor management to deliver the plan.
The plan includes £240,000 for road management and improvements, £160,000 investment in parking management, £350,000 for seasonal access rangers, £190,000 on public toilets, £220,000 on waste management, £55,000 for improved provision for motorhomes and waste disposal points, £15,000 for communications and a £160,000 joint initiative with the Cairngorms National Park Authority to improve visitor management in Glenmore corridor, including public toilet provision.
Councillors also welcomed the wide range of additional projects across the region that are under way or soon to start and which will complement the activities in the plan. These are expected to be ready by spring/summer 2022 and include a plan to upgrade and reopen the public toilets in Wick.
Other projects in the north mentioned include Helmsdale public toilets, Brora motorhome waste disposal and signage, and Dornoch visitor parking
In tandem with the visitor management plan, the council is developing a tourism infrastructure plan which aims to identify the longer-term tourism infrastructure requirements of the region.